Architecture: Marina City- The first circular apartment buildings in history.

15 Nov

Old postcard from Chicago

One of the most iconic towers in the skyline of Chicago is the Marina City complex. I was very lucky to have a friend who lived there last year,so I had the chance to take this tour in person. What I really like about this building is that you can see how it looks by watching the tower next to you.

Views from the rooftop.

John Hancock Tower in the back left.

Marina City is a 65-story mixed use residential and commercial building. Built between 1960 and 1967 at a time when Chicagoans were fleeing to the suburbs, the hugely ambitious project was Goldberg’s collaborative attempt at urban revitalization, as he called it, “a city within a city.”

The building complex, with its iconic corn cob towers, has identical floor plans.  It was designed as a self-contained town, full of residential and commercial units. Marina City was part of an effort to reintroduce downtown Chicago as an attractive place to live. It is actually a complex of five structures: two residential towers (65 stories each, with the first 18 stories reserved for parking), an office building (10 stories), and a theatre building all standing upon a large commercial platform. Its total height is 587 feet (179m).

Chicago Daily News Image

Each tower contains more than four hundred apartments and a continuous, upward-spiralling ramp of parking spaces. The circle gave the highest ratio of usable floor space to exterior skin. Marina City is notable in that it is the first building in the United States to be constructed with tower cranes.
The structure is composed by a central reinforced concrete core (where the elevators are) and a radial disposure of the beams. This is very symbolic because to Goldberg, this point of union was exactly where the core structure was: with the elevators, the meeting point.

Floor Plan

This is the symmetrical unit type where my friend lived.

Views of the corridor.

Views of the living/dining/bedroom.

Every amenity imaginable could be found within – such as a swimming pool, gym, ice skating rink, bank, barbershop and even a grocery store. The first of its kind, it truly was a city within a city.

Views from the balcony of his unit.
Watching the sunset.


This last amazing pictures are his own. Find out more about living in Marina City at Nathan Choe’s Blog.


Some interesting videos about Marina City:
This is Marina City (Part 1/2)
This is Marina City (Part 2/2)

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8 Responses to “Architecture: Marina City- The first circular apartment buildings in history.”

  1. mj December 1, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    Amazing pics. Thanks for visiting my blog,and giving me the chance to see your great work here.

  2. Eddie Two Hawks December 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    Chicago’s curious skyline would not be the same without Marina City. You have a wonderful collection of photos here with your story to discribe this unique inner city development.
    thanks for following me…

  3. traveleum December 17, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    Great pictures, plus.. I love Chicago! Regards :-)

    • Virginia Duran March 19, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

      Chicago is one of the best cities in the world, isn’t it? Can’t wait to be back :D

  4. Tom O'Grady March 17, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    Hello Virginia,
    Thanks for sharing this with us. We love your photos and the descriptions.
    My girlfriend and I live in Marina City and we truly enjoy the views and the convenience of being so close to many shops, theaters, music venues, Lake Michigan!, the lakeshore paths for bicycling, scooting on our Zooters, and picnicing.
    Tom O’Grady

    • Virginia Duran March 19, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

      Hello Tom,

      Thanks for stopping by. Glad to hear that you enjoy living in Marina City. I was lucky and one of my best friends lived there last year so I spent a lot of time in the rooftop taking pictures. As you say, its convenient location makes it a great place to walk/bike around. Marina Towers and Aqua Tower are my favourite spots for living in Chicago.
      All the best-Virginia


  1. 23 Buildings You Shouldn’t Miss in Chicago If You Are An Architect | Virginia Duran - November 21, 2013

    […] It was designed as a self-contained town, full of residential and commercial units.. Read more here. ______________________________________________________________________________13. Museum of […]

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