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  5. Bertrand Goldberg
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  7. AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg

AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg

AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg
AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg, © Flickr User: TRAFFIK [US]
© Flickr User: TRAFFIK [US]

© Bert K © Vincent Desjardins © Flickr User: moaksey © Flickr User: Vicious Bits +13

From the architect. Along the eastern branch of the Chicago River lies one of the most formally interesting skyscrapers in all of Chicago, Marina City by Bertrand Goldberg.  Completed in 1964, Marina City, at the time, was the tallest residential projects in the world and still remains one of the densest inhabited developments.  Unlike any project before it, Marina City was an experiment of allocating diverse programs into a “city within a city.”  Although, it is not as widely recognized as the Sears Tower or the John Hancock Building, Marina City’s distinctive “corn-cob” shape has a strong presence among modern architecture, as well as Chicago’s skyline.

© Bert K
© Bert K

In 1959 when Bertrand Goldberg was commissioned for the project, he had no prior experience designing at such a large scale; he mainly worked on smaller scale residential and institutional projects.  However, the developer, William McFetridge, president of the Building Service Employees International Union, entrusted Goldberg to design a complex that would slow Chicago’s urban exodus. At the beginning of the 1960s, those that lived in the city were growing tired of the dense, overcrowded conditions and had taken “flight” to the suburbs for a more open and accommodating way of life.  Marina City was an attempt at combating and reversing the flow of people back into the city, so close to the Loop.  It was a model of efficiency and convenience for modern living in a metropolitan area.

© Flickr User: moaksey
© Flickr User: moaksey

Goldberg thoroughly believed that people wanted to live in downtown Chicago.  His approach to Marina City was to design a “city within a city” that could fully accommodate people’s everyday needs and activities just a short distance from their homes. It was a method of bringing suburban commodities and ease of access to an urban setting.

© Vincent Desjardins
© Vincent Desjardins

At the time Marina City was completed, it was a programmatic treasure trove consisting of a theatre, gym, swimming pool, ice rink, a bowling alley, stores, restaurants, and a private marina for the residents.  All of these amenities were just a few of the measures taken to emphasize that everything one can find in the suburbs is available in one small urban area.

© Flickr User: Vicious Bits
© Flickr User: Vicious Bits

Goldberg’s design of Marina City is the first of its kind for a mixed-use residential project. The buildings programmatic complexity and unparalleled formal aesthetic creates a unique presence among Chicago’s skyscrapers.  Over the three acre site, two cylindrical residential towers bring urban living to a new found height.  The two reinforced concrete towers are designed around a 35’ diameter structural and vertical circulation core that allow for an egalitarian distribution of residential units on each floor. The cylindrical tower design creates 360° views of the “Second City,” while also serving as a structural stabilizer against the strong Chicago winds.

© Vincent Desjardins
© Vincent Desjardins

Each tower incorporates a spiral parking garage on the first nineteen floors. It is one of the first non-enclosed parking garages ever incorporated into the design of a residential high-rise.  The 20th floor of each tower serves as unit storage and laundry services for the residents.  The remaining forty stories of each building offer approximately 450 units; offering a total of 900 units categorized by studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom units.

© Zach Everson
© Zach Everson

The units themselves give Marina City its distinctive features; each unit has a balcony that defines the formal “corn-cob” aesthetic.  Because of the rhythm of the façade and standardization of the units makes the tower seem as a simple design gesture.  However, each floor contains a different type of dwelling unit so that no two similar floors are repeatedly stacked on one another; making for an interesting spatial juxtaposition in regards to the balcony. The wedge shaped units blossom from the core towards the city offering up uninterrupted views of the city.  Every unit is especially unit in that there is not a single right angle in any unit.  The lack of hard edges and sharp corners opens up the plan of each unit flowing from one space to another with ease.

© Flickr User: reallyboring
© Flickr User: reallyboring

Today, Marina City still features most of the original program from when it was completed in 1964.  The entire complex has been transformed for more contemporary uses; the auditorium/theatre has been converted into the House of Blues, adjacent to the residential towers is the Sax Hotel, and above the marina is an upscale restaurant Smith & Wollensky, while the units have been converted into luxury condominiums making it one of the most sought after residences in all of Chicago. Marina City sits as a modern architectural icon along the Chicago River serving as precedent for contemporary practices of cross-programming and dense urban development, as well as gracing the diversely, magnificent skyline of Chicago.

Studio Plan
Studio Plan
Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: Andrew Kroll. "AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg" 11 Nov 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <http://www.archdaily.com/87408/ad-classics-marina-city-bertrand-goldberg/>
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33 Comments

peter · October 27, 2015

Does anyone know of any specific precedents that used Goldbergs 'city with a city' concept or used the construction as a precedent?

REY · March 19, 2013

this building is so extravaganza at that time.. the way of people looking at this building at that time is almost same with us looking at the guangzhou opera house by zaha hadid... LOL just marvelous

Pierre · June 09, 2013 05:57 PM

Hummmm... I dont know about that.
The way I see it, everything about Marina City has a reason/function (raison d'être), whereas the Guangzhou Opera seems like a whimsical sculpture driven by the artistic opinion of one person.

Sofitel Chicago · March 28, 2012

This week&#39s architecture highlight is Marina City by Bertrand Goldberg: http://t.co/3DyT6DWt via @archdaily #architecture

P?nar ÖZDEM?R · April 12, 2011

AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg | ArchDaily http://t.co/wDj6f4s ?ekerparem arabas?n? s?rf rahat yere park etsin diye :)

Mies van der Rohe · November 17, 2010

Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg | ArchDaily http://t.co/x03sIRF #bertrand #goldberg #genius #architecture

Vicens Tort Arnau · November 14, 2010
Graphity · November 14, 2010

AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg http://bit.ly/ay0Sj8 - via feedly.com

MANCO ARCHITECTS · November 13, 2010
Daniel Ashbaugh · November 13, 2010

http://bit.ly/b1MtV9 I eventually need to visit these.

Mark Henderson · November 13, 2010

AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg | ArchDaily: http://bit.ly/cdHAax via @addthis

Mark Gardner · November 13, 2010

AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg | ArchDaily http://www.archdaily.com/?p=87...

Mark Gardner · November 13, 2010

AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg | ArchDaily http://www.archdaily.com/?p=87...

Francisco Ibañez · November 13, 2010

AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg | ArchDaily http://t.co/bmOzhHY via @archdaily

vaclav · November 12, 2010

Marina City: Bertrand Goldberg's Urban Vision a great new book by one of our professors at WashU in STL, Igor Marjanovic

http://www.amazon.com/Marina-C...

pda · November 12, 2010

nothing is wrong with it. It´s a beautiful building!

thomas foral · November 12, 2010

AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg | ArchDaily http://t.co/N4Ti1a4 via @archdaily

tomokazu hayakawa · November 12, 2010

AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg http://bit.ly/9hqnQR

gible · November 12, 2010

AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg http://ff.im/-tBplD

DEZIGN · November 12, 2010

AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg: © Flickr User: TRAFFIK [USAlong the eastern branch of the Chicago ... http://bit.ly/cJzfGE

Raul Fregoso · November 12, 2010

RT @ArchDaily: AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg http://archdai.ly/aCcnme #architecture

Architekt R V Scholz · November 12, 2010

#Architekt #Calau AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg: © Flickr User: TRAFFIK [US... http://bit.ly/c7nMEN #in http://dy.cx/c03

up_today_arch · November 12, 2010

just classic... Only one question, why this is only one building this type... what is wrong with it?...

Barry Maguire · November 12, 2010

AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg via ArchDaily - © Flickr User: TRAFFIK [USAlong the eastern ... http://tinyurl.com/2uk2zbq

Architecture+Molding · November 12, 2010

AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg: Along the eastern branch of the Chicago River lies one of the most... http://bit.ly/cmEWmZ

Hair Eguiluz Ricalde · November 12, 2010

RT @ArchDaily: AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg http://archdai.ly/aCcnme #architecture

GR2TF · November 12, 2010

AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg: © Flickr User: TRAFFIK [USAlong the eastern branch of the Chicago ... http://bit.ly/cJzfGE

arch_related · November 12, 2010

AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg: © Flickr User: TRAFFIK [USAlong the eastern branch of the Chicago ... http://bit.ly/cJzfGE

Sam Giberson · November 12, 2010

I have always loved Marina City RT @ArchDaily AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg http://archdai.ly/aCcnme #architecture

Erik Joya · November 12, 2010

AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg: © Flickr User: TRAFFIK [US Along the eastern… http://goo.gl/fb/23HNg

prabowo harry · November 12, 2010

weww awsm !RT @ArchDaily: AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg http://archdai.ly/aCcnme #architecture

ArchitecturePassion · November 12, 2010

AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg: © Flickr User: TRAFFIK [USAlong the eastern branch of the Ch... http://tinyurl.com/2epg5no

Bocetos Digitales · November 12, 2010

AD Classics: Marina City / Bertrand Goldberg: © Flickr User: TRAFFIK [USAlong the eastern branch of the Chicago ... http://bit.ly/cmEWmZ

Chaz · November 12, 2010

such a great building.

I quite like this photo taken during construction.

http://www.architizer.com/blog...

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