Goldwater: Autopsy of a Hospital

Work by Charles Giraudet
Goldwater Hospital. photo / Charles Giraudet
Goldwater: Autopsy of a Hospital exhibition
The exhibition Goldwater: Autopsy of a Hospital is currently on display in Bibliowicz Family Gallery. William Staffeld / AAP
Goldwater: Autopsy of a Hospital exhibition
An interior view at Goldwater Hospital, part of the exhibition Goldwater: Autopsy of a Hospital. William Staffeld / AAP
Goldwater: Autopsy of a Hospital exhibition
Goldwater: Autopsy of a Hospital in Bibliowicz Family Gallery. William Staffeld / AAP
Goldwater: Autopsy of a Hospital exhibition
Goldwater: Autopsy of a Hospital in Bibliowicz Family Gallery. William Staffeld / AAP
Goldwater Hospital. photo / Charles Giraudet The exhibition Goldwater: Autopsy of a Hospital is currently on display in Bibliowicz Family Gallery. William Staffeld / AAP An interior view at Goldwater Hospital, part of the exhibition Goldwater: Autopsy of a Hospital. William Staffeld / AAP Goldwater: Autopsy of a Hospital in Bibliowicz Family Gallery. William Staffeld / AAP Goldwater: Autopsy of a Hospital in Bibliowicz Family Gallery. William Staffeld / AAP

When Goldwater opened its doors in 1939 it was acclaimed with a kind of civic pride that is rarely seen nowadays. Every aspect of the facility had been meticulously designed by its architect, Isadore Rosenfield, to make it a haven for chronic disease patients, a place where architecture itself would be an instrument of healing. Care and research would be directed toward debilitating diseases and enabling patients to lead productive lives. Creating a path to integration for society's most unfortunate was also understood as the best way to build democracy.

Though many of these goals were never reached, the hospital remained beloved by its occupants and staff, until it was finally closed in 2013 to make room for the new Cornell Tech campus.

Charles Giraudet photographed every room in the hospital from the time the last patient moved out and the hospital was emptied to the erasure of the last building 20 months later, accumulating 18,000 images in the process.

His documentation is an inquiry into Rosenfield's intentions and methods. Following the architecture trail, viewers are invited to witness the use of natural light, the relationships to the environment and the site, the intelligent distribution of functions, and observe traces of human occupation as the structure dissolves into oblivion.

Charles Giraudet is a French photographer and architect. After completing his architecture degree he moved to New York City in 1987 to pursue architecture practice. The son of a photographer, he combined his interests by documenting Romanesque architecture, the temples of Angkor in Cambodia, the landscapes of Iceland, remote villages in Laos and Burma, and the pilgrimage roads to Santiago de Compostela. He sees his photography as an investigation into perception, identity, memory, scale, transformation, and the ways in which the human body and experience manifest their presence in space.

In 2013, upon learning of the imminent demise of the Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island, he began his photographic exploration of the facility. His photographs have been published in The Architectural League's Urban Omnibus and the New York Times. An exhibition of prints of Goldwater was shown at The Architectural League of New York. He is a 2016 recipient of the Clarence S. Stein Institute for Urban and Landscape Studies Award.

Exhibition organized by Charles Giraudet and Thomas J. Campanella, associate professor.