Elgin State Hospital

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  • Birdseye view of Elgin State Hospital. (Larry Gordon photo, n.d.) Birdseye view of Elgin State Hospital. (Larry Gordon photo, n.d.)
  • View of column detail, Elgin State Hospital. (Larry Gordon photo, n.d .) View of column detail, Elgin State Hospital. (Larry Gordon photo, n.d .)
  • Model of Elgin State Hospital. (HB Photo, n.d.) Model of Elgin State Hospital. (HB Photo, n.d.)
  • Elevation drawing, Elgin State Hospital. Elevation drawing, Elgin State Hospital.

Elgin State Hospital was the first of Goldberg's completed hospital designs. The circular, drum-shaped hospital was comprised of four floors supported by a circular concrete frame that housed the patient rooms. The circular portion rested on the square base of the building. The building featured external louvers that functioned as sun shades and provided a sense of physical security to the buildings occupants, similar to those used at Astor Tower. Unlike the later hospitals, however, Elgin had a perimeter circulation scheme.

The site also contained a rectangular, stand alone, laundry building connected to the hospital tower via a breezeway.The laundry building was glazed at both ends, similar in design profile to Norman Fosters' later Sainsbury Center. However, here the building uniquely featured concrete trusswork.

The circular form was a response to both schematic and structural challenges. While organizing structural steel requirements for a more conventional bay structure, Goldberg realized each rectilinear steel bay tended to have unique requirements that made standardization of the structural elements difficult. Ironically, he found that a less conventional shape, the circle, was more conducive to standardization and ultimately simplified some structural complexities.

The programmatic complexity of hospitals proved a good match for the industrial and systems interests of the firm. Soon, a large part of the office work revolved around hospitals.

At present the hospital and laundry building are not used, and are threatened.