Elgin Laundry Building

Designed in 1967 by Bertrand Goldberg, the Laundry Building in Elgin, Illinois, is a rare piece of architectural history. Formerly a part of the Elgin Mental Hospital Campus, the facility was purchased from the State of Illinois by the City of Elgin, which recognized an opportunity to breathe new life into the unoccupied building. SOM has partnered with the city and Landmarks Illinois to develop a vision for a new recreation facility on the former medical campus.

Rectangular in shape with a design defined by large concrete structural members, the hangar-like building—240-foot-long and 110-foot-wide—is a striking example of Goldberg’s work. The proposed reuse celebrates the original design and preserves Goldberg’s architectural legacy in Elgin. It will meet the city's changing needs while serving as a hub for the community, finally integrating the hospital campus into the fabric of the city.

Reimagined as an extension of Elgin’s existing central recreation complex, the reuse proposes a variety of soaring, daylit spaces for hosting an array of recreational functions, including soccer and basketball alongside specialized areas for strength training, martial arts, and dance. The proposal includes a variety of potential configurations, including seating options for nearly 350 guests in fixed bleachers and additional space beyond the building’s retractable curtain walls. New amenity spaces include locker rooms, administrative offices, and a public reception area.

A sustainable design, the Laundry Building reuse incorporates photovoltaic panels, natural daylighting, natural ventilation during spring and fall, rainwater harvesting, and low-flow plumbing to minimize the its environmental footprint. It aims to achieve zero net-energy in line with sustainability goals set by the Living Building Challenge 3.0.