To build 2 million square feet is in itself a task, but to relate 2 million square feet to the individuals within, rather than produce rooms with numbers on them is really our task. We have to create what I call ‘villages of space.’- Conversations With Architects, 1973
The goal of this design was not just to build a teaching hospital, but to revolutionize healthcare by radically altering the environment in which it was practiced. Designed to accommodate eight colleges with 3,500 students and a daily population of 12,000, this massive complex was a self-contained working and teaching community located on 250 acres adjacent to an existing campus at the SUNY Stony Brook on Long Island. The Health Science Center complex consisted of several buildings: a twelve-story clinical science tower (960,000 s.f.), a 540 bed hospital (700,000 s.f.), and a basic science tower (225,000 s.f.), all located atop a seven-story base building built into the side of a hill which housed support services for all the towers. In addition, the support structure contained the "ascension sphere," a floor that linked all the buildings and also featured a moving walkway. People were able to circulate through the complex vertically through elevators and laterally via the ascension sphere at the ground level and aerial bridges, which linked the towers at the upper stories.
Students entered from the lower level, while patients entered the hospital from an upper level and as a result were often unaware of the larger functions of the building.
Goldberg described his design as an exterior "container" for other buildings that housed the various educational groups or colleges. In order to create "villages of space" within the buildings, Goldberg divided the floors in the base building into modules of 200 feet by 200 feet, thus creating a 40,000 square foot "community." At the center of each community was an enclosed atrium. He divided the upper towers into "cubicles" or areas of specialization. Each cubicle was five stories high and took up a quarter of the floor space. There could be four different cubicles per floor. The cube system met programmatic needs and provided intimately linked spaces within the massive complex.