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SOM drafts reuse plan for Bertrand Goldberg’s vacant Elgin Laundry Building

Working with Landmarks Illinois, the designers envision the hanger-like space as a new recreational facility

A long vacant and somewhat neglected building from modernist master architect—and Marina City designer—Bertrand Goldberg could be resurrected as a community amenity should a preliminary adaptive reuse study from SOM (Skidmore Owings & Merrill) and Landmarks Illinois be realized. Built in 1967 in suburban Elgin, Illinois on the campus of a former mental health hospital, the accordion-shaped Elgin Laundry Building and its 110-foot by 240-foot unobstructed interior space has been envisioned as a multipurpose sports and recreation community hub.

Penned with maximum flexibility in mind, the reuse plan would see the structure serve as an extension of Elgin’s existing recreation complex and host a variety of sports programing such as basketball, soccer, martial arts, wrestling, and dance. The proposed rehabilitation also features retractable curtain walls, bleachers for up to 350 spectators, locker rooms, administrative offices, and public reception areas.

Though currently looking a bit rough on the outside, the study confirmed the structural soundness of Goldberg’s 49-year-old creation. SOM aims to preserve the overall integrity of the aging building and restore its exterior facade back to its original, unblemished condition. Modern sustainability upgrades such as enhanced natural daylight and ventilation are also being explored. The building could even see the addition of photovoltaic cells and rainwater harvesting systems.

According to a statement from Landmarks Illinois, the project’s designers would engage and work closely with the village of Elgin, its residents, and other stakeholders should the plan for the Elgin Laundry Building be pursued in earnest. The complete design study can be viewed here, on Landmarks website.