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Bertrand Goldberg Hidden Gem in Uptown Buena Park

4251 N Clarendon is the home of  Joseph Brennemann Elementary School.

It’s a long, rectangular structure, with a wall of glass on the first floor, and on the second: a massive, steel enclosure not unlike a self-storage unit.

Under the steel facade though, are intricately curved concrete shells, coverings for still intact windows long hidden from the outside – and the 24 classrooms below –for three decades.

The school’s architect was Bertrand Goldberg.

You may recognize Goldberg’s famous Marina City, the twin corncob towers on the Chicago River. Some of his other Chicago buildings include River City in the South Loop and Hilliard Homes near Chinatown.

Goldberg, a modernist Chicago architect with a flair for curving concrete forms, designed some of the city’s most distinctive buildings in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Some, such as Marina City, are beloved city treasures. Others, such as Prentice Women’s Hospital, have met the fate of a wrecking ball.   WBEZ  did a great story recently on the building and the architect!

I firmly believe that there is need for schools which are scaled both in concept and in size to young people who will be using them and who, I hope, will grow as individualists.-from letter written by Bertrand Goldberg, July 1962

At a cost of $851,000, Brenneman School was the most expensive school per square foot than any yet approved by the Board of Education. However, for years following its construction it retained the reputation of having one of the lowest costs per pupil of any contemporary facility. Unfortunately, because of Chicago’s dramatic fluctuations in temperature, the building was subject to leaking due to expansion and contraction of the roof structure.

The entire roof structure has since been covered over.   🙁

 

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