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City Within a City

Posted by
Steven (Chicagoland, United States) on 18 September 2009 in Architecture and Portfolio.

The Marina City complex was designed in 1959 by architect Bertrand Goldberg and completed in 1964 at a cost of $36 million financed to a large extent by the union of building janitors and elevator operators, who sought to reverse the pattern of "white flight" from the city's downtown area. When finished, the two towers were both the tallest residential buildings and the tallest reinforced concrete structures in the world. The complex was billed as a "city within a city", featuring numerous on-site facilities including a theatre, gym, swimming pool, ice rink, bowling alley, several stores and restaurants, and of course, a marina.

The two towers contain identical floor plans. The bottom 19 floors form an exposed spiral parking ramp operated by valet with 896 parking spaces per building. The 20th floor of each contains a laundry room with panoramic views of the Loop, while floors 21 through 60 contain apartments (450 per tower). A 360-degree open-air roof deck lies on the 61st and top story. The buildings are accessed from separate lobbies that share a common below-grade mezzanine level as well as ground-level plaza entrances beside the House of Blues. Originally rental apartments, the complex converted to condominiums in 1977.

Marina City apartments are unique in containing almost no interior right angles. On each residential floor, a circular hallway surrounds the elevator core, which is 32 feet (10 m) in diameter, with 16 pie-shaped wedges arrayed around the hallway. Apartments are composed of these triangular wedges. Bathrooms and kitchens are located nearer to the "point" of each wedge, towards the inside of the building. Living areas occupy the outermost areas of each wedge. Each wedge terminates in a 175-square-foot (16.3 square meter) semi-circular balcony, separated from living areas by a floor-to-ceiling window wall. Because of this arrangement, every single living room and bedroom in Marina City has a balcony.

Photo taken September 13, 2009 from the south bank of the Chicago River where I am positioned just above the Vietnam War memorial. The bridge straight ahead is State Street.

SONY DSLR-A300 1/125 second F/10.0 ISO 100 18 mm

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Onlymehdi from Wayne, United States


18 Sep 2009 5:41am

Tamara from Aarschot, Belgium

Very nice compo, congratulations !

18 Sep 2009 7:51am

MadScientist from Düsseldorf, Germany

Great angle, mesmerizing colours! Very cool shot with interesting info.

18 Sep 2009 8:48am

Linda from Riga/Sigulda, Latvia

a great photo, colours are really speaking

18 Sep 2009 9:36am

JannuD from Bengaluru, India

Nice shot

18 Sep 2009 10:53am

Curly from South Shields, United Kingdom

Terrific! You really need to tell us how to achieve this look - perhaps a tutorial?

18 Sep 2009 11:46am

MARIANA from Waterloo, Canada

Bravo for this brilliant framing and processing too . My last picture looks like taken from one of these buildings ( it was 34 th floor ))

18 Sep 2009 1:21pm

Ralph Jones from Detroit, United States

I have always loved these towers. I remember seeing them for the first time as a child, my Dad wanted to see them while my family was vacationing, I must have been 10 and thought my Dad was crazy to stop in Chicago just to see some silly building. Wow my Dad taught me a lot. Thanks for providing the information about them.

18 Sep 2009 2:30pm

john4jack from Corvallis, Oregon, United States

Wow. Classic HDR.

18 Sep 2009 4:05pm

Earnest from Oklahoma, United States

Looks like an artist went wild on this one... I really enjoyed the information too, especially the way it was financed.

19 Sep 2009 10:37am

ManuelaR from Hainburg (Frankfurt/Main), Germany

Gee, this is completely different!!

20 Sep 2009 2:07pm

dj.tigersprout from New York City, United States

so colorful!! what eye popping fun!! love these awesomely designed buildings!

21 Sep 2009 11:18pm

6ft5 from stockholm, Sweden

these "corn on the cob" buildings blows me away. Great capture and processing! There´s lots of great images here! Thanks for sharing them.

24 Oct 2009 6:13pm