In the mid-1960s, Bertrand Goldberg received an important commission to produce a comprehensive master plan for the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Large university medical centers were still in their infancy at this time, and his planning for the Health Sciences Center (HSC) involved the complex integration of three institutions: a medical school, large research laboratory, and teaching hospital serving the surrounding community. Goldberg’s remarkable design for HSC retained the independence of these institutions in three towers, yet planned for their cooperation and integration in a seven-story base building that provided common services, supplies, and meeting areas for a transient city of 12,000 daily users.
Goldberg connected the cubic volumes of the Basic Science Building, the Clinical Science Tower, and the hexagonal towers of the hospital with a “diagonal ascension spine” of escalators, enacting the journey of a medical student from classroom to laboratory and finally hospital at the top of the plinth. He crowned the base building with a dramatic artificial topography of terraced gardens and large, recessed courts that allowed natural light for subterranean offices, libraries, and common areas. In the vast base building, Goldberg subdivided space into functional “villages” centered on atria, seating areas, and other focal points to improve navigation and promote social exchange between students, researchers, patients, and professors. In addition to the project’s programmatic innovation, many contemporary critics recognized the affinities between Goldberg’s Health Science City and the megastructure, a form of international experimental architecture integrating many urban functions in large, futuristic structures.
Bertrand Goldberg. Health Sciences Center, Stony Brook, NY, Sectional View, c. 1974. The Art Institute of Chicago, Archive of Bertrand Goldberg, gift of the Goldberg Family, RX23664/134.18.