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River City, Aerial Perspective

Ink sketch of curvy building from birddz eye view.

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  • Ink sketch of curvy building from birddz eye view.




Bertrand Goldberg
American, 1913–1997

About this artwork

In 1932 eighteen-year-old Bertrand Goldberg left his native Chicago to study at the Bauhaus in Germany, becoming one of the first Americans to work under the guidance of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The next year, he returned home and worked at various Chicago firms until he founded his own practice in 1937. He is best known for Chicago’s Marina Towers, America’s first mixed-use urban-housing complex, which he completed in 1967. Two decades later, Goldberg made plans for the even more ambitious River City. Conceived as part of a huge marina along the south branch of the Chicago River, the development was to consist of a vast complex of linked towers housing thousands of residents. Believing that architecture should address the needs of the many, Goldberg envisioned River City as a self-sufficient environment that would foster a sense of community. Six clusters of seventy-two-story buildings, featuring the architect’s now trademark curvilinear concrete shell construction and cantilevered balconies, would wind a serpentine path along the river’s edge. Although the full scope of River City was never realized, a scaled-back version was built in 1987. Despite its diminished proportions, River City drew high praise and was hailed by the New York Times as “a remarkable space, unusually lyrical and soft in feeling for a structure finished in harsh concrete.”


Currently Off View


Architecture and Design


Bertrand Goldberg (Architect)


River City, Aerial Perspective


Chicago (Building address)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Designed 1979


Ink and graphite on tracing paper


45.6 × 57.9 cm (18 × 22 13/16 in.)

Credit Line

The Archive of Bertrand Goldberg, gifted by his children through his estate

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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