Marina City: A Chicago Architectural Icon

Marina City, an architectural marvel located in Chicago, Illinois, USA, is a testament to innovation and urban living. Designed by the visionary architect Bertrand Goldberg, this mixed-use residential-commercial complex has captured the imagination of visitors and residents alike. In this article, we delve into the history, design, and significance of Marina City.

History and Construction

Marina City's construction spanned from 1961 to 1968, at a cost of $36 million, making it a pioneering project of its time. It was funded in part by the Building Service Employees International Union, aiming to revitalize downtown Chicago and reverse the trend of suburban migration. The complex consisted of two 587-foot, 65-story apartment towers, at the time, the tallest residential and reinforced concrete structures globally.

Innovative Design

One of the defining features of Marina City is its unique design, characterized by its corncob-like towers. The complex's two towers offer identical floor plans and are surrounded by a spiral parking ramp on the lower 19 floors. Each tower contains 450 apartments spanning from the 21st to the 60th floor, offering spectacular city views.

Distinctive Living Spaces

What sets Marina City apart is its unconventional apartment layouts. The circular hallway envelops the elevator core, with 16 sector-shaped units arranged around it. The interior features bathrooms and kitchens, while living areas extend outward, leading to semi-circular balconies for every unit. This design ensures that each living room and bedroom has its own balcony, creating a unique living experience.

Elevators and Amenities

Marina City is renowned for its high-speed elevators, allowing swift access to the rooftop decks in just 33 seconds. The complex was awarded for its innovative design by the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 1965. Additionally, Marina City offers various amenities, including a theater, gym, swimming pool, ice rink, bowling alley, stores, and restaurants. The House of Blues concert hall, a popular attraction today, was constructed within the complex's former movie theater.

Electric-Powered Living

A noteworthy aspect of Marina City is its reliance on electricity for all its utilities. Unlike conventional buildings of its era, Marina City apartments do not use natural gas or propane. Residents individually pay for electricity to run water heaters, heating, cooling units, and electric stoves.

Architectural Influence

Marina City's striking design has not only captivated Chicago but also inspired similar architectural endeavors worldwide. It served as a muse for the design of the Corinthian Tower in New York.

Controversial Ownership Claims

In 2007, the condominium board stirred controversy by asserting common law copyright and trademark rights to the name and image of Marina City. They claimed that any commercial use without permission constituted a violation of their intellectual property rights.

Current Use and Recognition

Today, Marina City houses the House of Blues concert hall, the Hotel Chicago, 10Pin Bowling Lounge, and several restaurants. In 2018, it was honored as one of the Illinois 200 Great Places by the American Institute of Architects Illinois component.

Marina City's enduring appeal lies not only in its architectural splendor but also in its role as a catalyst for urban development and its continued vibrancy as a cultural and residential hub in the heart of Chicago.

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