The Marina City is a complex of two corncob-shaped 65-story buildings and was branded ?a city within a city? at the time it opened to the public. Aside from its residential use, the complex also consisted of recreational amenities (such a swimming pool, ice rink, bowling alley and a gym), office spaces, several stores and restaurants, banks, a theater and 19 stories of parking space. The design of the Marina City inspired the changes in the architectural perspective of the city of Chicago and brought architecture one step beyond. It is extensively attributed with emphasizing the image of Chicago as a city on the frontage of modern urban architecture and introducing the residential revitalization of American inner cities.
Completed in 1964, the towers of the Marina City were both the tallest residential buildings and the highest reinforced concrete structures in the world. The construction of the Marina City was financed to a large extent by unions composed primarily of building janitors and elevator operators who dreaded that the depletion of people from the cities in the early sixties would lead to a decrease in jobs. They believed that the Marina City is a good alternative to the villages and small towns. So everything was made available in this small area.
In 1965, the American Institute of Architects awarded a prize to the towers of the Marina City for its pioneering design. It was said that a comparable design for the Corinthian Tower in New York was motivated by the corncob form of the towers of the Marina City.
The two buildings of the Marina City were made with identical floor plans, accessible from separate lobbies that share a conjoined below-grade mezzanine level as well as ground-level plaza entrances beside the House of Blues. Both stand 587 feet high with 19 floors of open spiral valet parking incline divided into 896 parking spaces, situated at the lower part of the building. A laundry room that provides a panoramic view of the Chicago Loop is located on the 20th level. From the 21st to the 60th floors, the 450 residential apartments are uniquely set to have balconies on each unit allowing its residents to enjoy the view of the main branch of the Chicago River with an impressive view of the Chicago Loop beyond it. Uniquely, almost no right angles are found in the apartments? interiors. On the 61st and the top story, a 360-degree alfresco roof deck is positioned. There are also five-story elevator and natural plant penthouse.
Remarkably, serving the residential towers are high speed elevators, strikingly set at the center of the towers, which takes roughly 35 seconds to travel from the lower-level lobby to the 61st-floor roof decks. Notably, another uniqueness utilized in the residential apartments is the sole use of electricity for it to function, rather than using natural gas or propane which are commonly used in the households of America.
The Marina City also took advantage of its location (on the north shore of the Chicago River) and built a dock or a small marina for leisure trades. Above the marina, a raised platform cantilevered over non-operational railroad tracks nearby holds the towers of Marina City.