The Chicago Files


Marina City

Marina City – An architectural achievement designed by the late Bertrand Goldberg which was completed in 1964.  These interesting structures are 587 feet (179 m) in height.  Do you see an uncanny resemblance to a food favorite?  Affectionately labelled as the “Corncob Buildings”, Marina City sits on the North bank of the Chicago River in the heart of downtown Chicago.  I took this photo on a recent architectural boat cruise.

Both buildings contain 65 stories, with the bottom 19 utilized for parking, one floor for laundry facilities, and the rest are condominiums.  Interesting note:  the parking is exposed (wiring prevents an accidental plunge into the Chicago River below), and cars are only situated by backing into the parking spaces.  You’ll love this:  parking is only completed by valets, not by residents.  I don’t know if I’d quite like that scenario.  It’s evening, you are hungry (and seriously, how could you not be when your building resembles a cob of corn 365 days of the year); but wait! No, I mean literally, “wait” for the valet to get your car out of its spot in order for you to drive to the nearest all-night diner.

As if living in a corncob structure wouldn’t in and of itself elicit hunger pangs, how’s this for an added foodie feature:  the units are pie-shaped!   Containing almost no interior right angles, the middle of each floor is circular, with 16 pie-shaped wedges adorned around the circle.  And yes, you guessed it, your unit is one interesting piece of the pie!  Say, Agnes, fancy a game of cards at my place?  Why certainly; but I can’t remember, are you at the apple or the cherry?  Silly girl, I’m at the key lime!

Many movies have been filmed with either the Corncob Buildings in the background, or actually in the movie itself.  The movie, “The Hunter” (1980) starring none other than Steve McQueen, had a scene in which Mr. McQueen participates in a high-speed chase through the parking garage in one of the Corncob Buildings.  You are probably ahead of me; yes, the car makes an airborne appearance straight through the parking space opening and plunges into the Chicago River!  For the film, a car was actually launched into the river!

So there you have it! Fun-shaped structures resembling food for a city that is known for its, “foodies” and fantastic fare! Corncob Buildings and pie-shaped living spaces.  I’d say we were in for one heck of a picnic, wouldn’t you?

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