Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Elgin Mental Health Center-Goldberg Buildings- MID 540 Studio Specialization Project

I have selected The Elgin Mental Health Center in Elgin, IL as my site location. Upon visiting the facility we stumble across a hidden gem, Bertrand Goldberg’s Medical buildings located right here in Elgin! Fascinated by this cylindrical-modern structure, Lauren and I begin to research. We found a book in our local Gale Borden Library, which focuses on the history of the Elgin Mental Health Center. Lauren contacted the author, Bill Briska. He has been a wealth of knowledge in the development of our project. Bill, having worked at EMHC for 25+ years has so generously given his time to explain his experiences and knowledge of Bertrand Goldberg's Medical buildings.

Bertand Goldberg's Medical Surgical Building
Fact Sheet-
Bill Briska

Purpose: to replace the 80 bed General Hospital Building constructed in 1921.

Cost $5 million

Architect: Bertrand Goldberg and Associates

Ground breaking: Former Gov. William Stratton present. Date: 1965?

Construction phase: Spring 1965 thru Nov 1967.

Occupancy: 11-20-1967

Formal dedication: 5-24-1968, Gov Sam Shapiro present.

Capacity: 176 beds.  Double rooms with shared baths,  four single rooms per floor. Four floors.  Actual capacity varied throughout the years with most years having less than the designed capacity of 176.

Milestones: Surgery ended within a few years of opening the building.  Lab services gradually phased in late 1980s and early 1990s. These services contracted out to community based medical hospitals.

Conversion of patient units to office space begins in about 1987. Last patient leaves in 1992.

Building vacated: July 2002 virtually all operations moved out of the building. Some switchboard and computer file servers functions continued in one small area.

Prepared by Bill Briska, May 22, 2007

Medical Surgical Building- Notes from meeting with Bill Briska 2/23/2011
104,000 sq. ft.      1967 – 2002, Concrete construction.

Goldberg's attention to detail in the hospital building is apparent. Why are there no windows in the square building? Does this have something to do with contrast? (Note: Need to do further research.)

The building was considered a prototype for circular plan hospitals and building later constructed in Chicago.

Problems to address in redesign-
Problems with hospital building- Lack of way finding-color would be a good way to resolve this.
Everything looks the same on every floor. Patients with dementia get lost trying to find their rooms
·         Limited storage/office space
·         Concrete masonry walls- very hard to retrofit for new utilities and or redesign.
·         Not a flexible plan.

Louvers on exterior, motorized controlled on roof top to allow for sunlight control into patient rooms.
·         Trouble maintaining
·         About 50 hinged louvers per column. 
·         Eventually all louvers were left at a 45 degree.

This became a privacy issue for patients. At ground level looking up, not much privacy at all. (Note: Louvers we an interesting feature and part of the design intent, how can we preserve this concept?)

Patient Rooms- General notes:
·         2-4 patients per room with shared bathrooms
·         Plan-elevators and stairs in the central core
·         Nursing stations on the outer walls of patient rooms
·         Nice layout for nurses to see patients.

Square building-
·         Upper and lower level-Related to functions very well.
·         Dark hallways, no light to offices, no windows
·         Plan-Reception, switch board, offices, podiatry, Audio room, eye, dentist, surgery, exam, med records, central supplies, pharmacy, labs and x-ray
·         Loading dock

Lower level-
Plan-Kitchen, cafe, morgue, chapel, storage, mechanical
No windows

Plans from research-
Medical building map
Hospital building plan

Medical buildings-elevations

Hospital building deatiled plan

1 comment:

  1. Hello! I am actually researching about restoration and reuse projects in modern hospitals. I am really interestes in wether and how the architecture of Bertram Goldberg will be preserved (see for instance the debate about the Prentice Hospital in Chicago). From your article I didn't get if the Elgin Mental Health Center has been somehow adapted to new exigences or what kind of interventions have been done until now? I looked for the book by Bill Briska but I wasn't able to find it: could you please specify the title?
    Thank you very much for your help.
    Please contact me at: a.castelbarco@libero.it