The Photography of Obsolescence: Goldwater Hospital Exhibition

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March 1st, 2016 no comments
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Goldwater Hospital | Charles Giraudet

In his design for Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island, Isadore Rosenfield encapsulated the architecture of recovery. This idea — that good design, in addition to cleanliness, medicine, and talented doctors and nurses, can help patients get better — faded from public consciousness with the rise of antibiotics, but is now in vogue again. Rosenfield was one of its foremost practitioners. Down to the lighting fixtures, Goldwater was built to maximize the chronic patient’s privacy and peace of mind without hampering the practice of healthcare.

The main patient buildings of Goldwater, for example, which opened in 1939 as the Welfare Hospital for Chronic Disease on what was then Welfare Island, were shaped like chevrons. This brought two advantages, Rosenfield explained in 1937. It maximized the buildings’ sun exposure, and “increased the angle of vision of the channels of the river so as to make patients feel that they are facing the river rather than facing the back of a building.” The architect’s intuition would be validated 45 years later by Roger Ulrich’s famous study showing that patients with views of nature recovered from surgery more quickly.

Goldwater Hospital | Charles Giraudet

Goldwater closed on the last day of 2013; its patients were transferred to area hospitals. Over the next few months, photographer and architect Charles Giraudet roamed its empty halls, amassing a collection of more than 18,000 images. A selection of those photographs ran on Urban Omnibus in 2014, eliciting remembrances from former patients and others with personal connections to the place. Goldwater, Giraudet wrote, “spoke of an age where architecture could ambitiously address social needs for the public good.” Some aspects of its design had been compromised by regulation and modernization. (The balconies were closed off, for example.) But the place remained a tribute to thoughtful, public design.

Goldwater is no more; in its place, a new campus for Cornell Tech is rising and will open in 2017. But the hospital lives on in Giraudet’s photographs, a selection of which will be exhibited at the offices of Urban Omnibus and The Architectural League. On Friday, March 11th, at 6 p.m., Urban Omnibus will be hosting Giraudet and photographer Christopher Payne in a conversation about photographing architectural ruins.

Regular hours to see the exhibit are as follows:

Autopsy of a Hospital
Photographs by Charles Giraudet

Time & Place
Friday afternoons, 3 to 6 p.m.
March 18 — April 29

The Architectural League of New York
594 Broadway, Suite 607
New York, NY

No reservations necessary.

Visit the League’s website for more information on the upcoming event:

Autopsy of a Hospital
Photographs by Charles Giraudet
In conversation with Christopher Payne

Time & Place
Friday, March 11, 2016
6:00 p.m.

The Architectural League of New York
594 Broadway, Suite 607
New York, NY

Tickets
This opening reception event is currently SOLD OUT.



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