Marina City
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Architect Bertrand Goldberg
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Location Chicago, Illinois   map
Date 1959 to 1964   timeline
Building Type mixed use-multifamily housing, offices, parking
 Construction System concrete
Climate temperate
Context urban
Style Modern
Notes Twin round towers.


Photo, exterior overview, looking down the river.





Plan Drawing

Plan Drawing

Discussion Marina City Commentary

"Marina City, in 1959, is a thirty-six-million- dollar project built on only three acres of land in the heart of Chicago's Loop. A dramatic landmark in the Chicago skyline, it culminated thirty years of thought and development for Goldberg. Each of the twin, sixty-story towers had four hundred and fifty apartments in its upper two-thirds, with the lower third a continuous parking ramp that spirals upwards, accommodating four hundred and fifty automobiles. Since the residential level starts at the twenty-first story, magnificent views of the city are enjoyed from every apartment. The towers are as popular with Chicagoans as the 'corn on the cob' they are caricatured as in Goldberg's office.

"For many years Goldberg had felt there were advantages in the use of circular forms: the aerodynamic properties in a cylindrical high-rise structure; the structural equidistance from the center, and therefore uniform function of all parts; the absence of special corner conditions; and the creation of centrifugal or 'kinetic' spaces resulting from non-parallel walls. The towers derive much of their rigidity from the 35-foot-diameter cylindrical core that houses each building's services and utilities like a vertical street. Service spaces in apartments were grouped toward this core, giving living areas the light and view. The construction of the core preceded that of the floors, providing a rising foundation for the erection crane, thereby saving many working days. The project is all-electric, with heat and hot water individually produced in each apartment.

"The other elements of the 'city within a city' are a sixteen-story office building; a one- thousand-seven-hundred-and-fifty-seat theater and a seven-hundred-seat auditorium; stores, restaurants, bowling alleys; a gymnasium, swimming pool and skating rink; a marina for seven hundred small craft; and a sculpture garden at the base of the towers—all overlooking the Chicago River. Built for an economical ten to twelve dollars a square foot, Marina City is Goldberg's response to the urgencies of urban redevelopment...."

— from Paul Heyer. Architects on Architecture: New Directions in America. p51-52

"When built, this development's two audacious, 60-story, petal-ringed towers were the tallest residential buildings and tallest concrete structures in the world. Twenty stories of parking space are provided on the lower levels of the towers, while space for offices, shops, and a marina are supplied in a complex of facilities nearby."

— from Sylvia Hart Wright. Sourcebook of Contemporary North American Architecture: From Postwar to Postmodern. p36.

The Creator's Words

"Our time...has made us aware that forces and strains flow in patterns which have little relationship to the rectilinear concepts of the Victorian engineers. We have become aware of the almost alive quality which our structures achieve, and we seek the forms which give the most life to our structures."

"...From the lesson of making steel flow under heat, pressure and impact into a new form he 'became aware, at a sensitive level, of the fact that strength can come from shape rather than weight. If you deform a piece of sheet steel you have a sculptural form with a new moment of inertia, where shape can give strength. In the automobile, designers have been decreasing weights of steel while producing increasingly stronger forms. Produced automatically and endlessly, but in straight lines, the rolled steel forms we were working with from my Miesian background became a very clumsy tool. Whereas we had been talking for years about the machine in architecture, as part of the old Bauhaus tradition, it had more potential than anything we had given it credit for. We could virtually build anything we could imagine. The post-and-beam suddenly became a hangover from the Victorian tradition where the machine had been an expression of the human arm at work, from left to right and up and down. I felt almost like a primitive looking at the machine that could create a material by a process that did not exist before—produce a magic that was not there before."

— Bertrand Goldberg. from Paul Heyer. Architects on Architecture: New Directions in America. p49, 50-51.

Sources on Marina City

Ante Glibota and Frédéric Edelman. Chicago: 150 Years of Architecture, 1833-1983. Paris: Paris Art Center, Musˇe-Galerie de la SEITA, 1986. NA735-C4C394 1983. exterior photo from parking lot, f1, p163. exterior color photo in context, p180. exterior photo from balcony on one of the buildings, p162.

Paul Heyer. Architects on Architecture: New Directions in America. New York: Walker and Company, 1966. LC 66-22504. discussion p49, 50-51.

Werner Hofmann. Modern Architecture in Color. New York: The Viking Press, 1969. NA 642.H6413. LC 72-125823. drawing of garage floor plan, p457. drawing of apartment floor plan, p457. drawing of ground floor plan, p457.

Johnson Architectural Images. Copyrighted slides in the Artifice Collection, AJ1119, AJ1120, AJ1121, AJ1122.

Sylvia Hart Wright. Sourcebook of Contemporary North American Architecture: From Postwar to Postmodern. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1989. ISBN 0-422-29190-6. LC 89-5320. NA703.W75 1989. discussion.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at  Find books about Marina City


Web Resources
Links on Marina City

Marina Towers Condominiumsweb site of the building management

Marina City at ArchiplanetFind, add, and edit info at the all-buildings collaboration

We appreciate your  suggestions  for links about Marina City.

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