Marina City has been carefully conceived in terms of scale. We first decided that Marina City would be seen from the opposite south bank of the river, then, by people approaching on both the State Street and Dearborn Street bridges. Also, there was an excellent long shot from Michigan Avenue. It was of first importance to consider the appearance of the distant view. This is a view which has no scale except as compared with other buildings in the vicinity. With this view in mind, Marina City will stand out as an intriguing geometric texture of concrete twin towers against a carefully controlled quiet composition of the background commercial building. The theatre building will not be visible to any large extent.
However, upon approach to Marina City, the scale changes tremendously. The towers disappear up above and the pedestrian or the automobile passenger is concerned only with the immediacy of the view.
Here is it necessary to think of the relationship to human size. For this relationship, we have used the Marina City theatre. The central form of the theatre and the sculptural concrete of the theatre has a degree of intimacy which none of the other structures at Marina City has. The theatre, itself, we call the Marina City Center, because it is at this point that people will disembark, and it is from this point that people may reach any other portion of the Marina City under cover with automatic forms of transportation – the escalator, and the elevator.
At an early time of our design, we felt that Marina City required a sizable area for a garden. Later, as we worked through our design, we realized that the size of the garden was not so important as the ability to relate the garden to human scale. In this fashion, we conceived of a design for a sculpture garden, which would surround the sunken skating rink, located near the river front of Marina City. Here it is that people may gather in small groups, talk, sit, contemplate the river, the boats, or the kinetics of the changing lights of the city before them.
We have interesting plans for an annual outdoor sculpture competition for the sculpture garden, but we do not intend to display this in the sense of museum sculpture: rather to let people live among the art work, which is the product of their time.
Marina City has achieved the 24-hour balance of urban activities.
1. We have housing – 900 units – in the two towers.
2. We have commercial offices – 180,000 square feet.
3. We have amusement and recreation centers – theatre, bowling, swimming, skating.
4. We have health centers – a health club, a gymnasium.
5. We have the marina.
6. We have 1200 seat auditorium for political meetings, meetings for discussion, or commercial meetings having to do with presentation of products.
This rubbing together of people through a 24-hour period generates a heat both psychological and economic. As regards the economic heat, the facilities which are contained within the Marina City balance of activities could not possible be supported by single occupancy – either housing or commercial.
And I firmly believe that the concept of total environment creates a pleasurable experience for the occupants. St. Augustin said that beauty is that which gives pleasure. I do not know if that which gives pleasure is also beauty. But we are closer to our objective by creating the pleasurable total life – both physical and spiritual.
This next slide is a close-up of the towers…
The towers have been designed as a central core which contains the elevator shafts, the stairways, all of the utilities, and out from which radiate all of the apartments. The central core is 35′ in diameter. The overall is approximately 105′ in diameter.
The central core is a structural concrete cylinder. It resists the wind and it helps support the building. The shape of the core means that the buildings have only 30% of the wind resistance that they would otherwise have with the same dimension, but in a rectilinear form.
I strongly feel that the shape of these buildings have a relationship of a tree to its branches, as compared with other types of cellular design, which apartment buildings have taken, where each apartment has the relationship of beehive and the cell.
The next slide shows the plan of the building: The central core containing all of the facilities and three typical apartments.
Actually, while these apartments are shown as occurring on a single floor, the plan of the building is somewhat different. There will be 32 floors of efficiency apartments and one-bedroom apartments. There will be eight floors of one-bedroom apartments and two-bedroom apartments.
The buildings will contain 60% one-bedroom apartments, 30% efficiency apartments and 10% two-bedroom apartments.
No apartment door faces into any other apartment door, but rather each apartment door is connected to its trunk – to the core of the building. We feel on a subjective level that this produces a feeling of immediacy and a feeling of the individual house which is not experienced in the beehive type of planning.
These buildings have been described as cylindrical. This is not true. The organization of the building is rather the organization of a tremendous sunflower – where the core is the center of the flower and each of the bays emanating from the core are very much – both in shape and in organization – like the petal of a flower.
The efficiency apartments occupy one of these petals. The one-bedroom apartments occupy a petal and a half; and the two-bedroom apartments occupy two and a half petals.
The efficiency apartment emanates from the core placing the dressing room and bathroom closet to the core where the restricted space in the development of shape makes this most feasible. The kitchen comes next and finally, at the outside of the building, where the function of the building requires the greatest amount of view and light and sensation of openness we have our living-room, dining room, sleeping room combination. Beyond this the balcony which is 10′ by 20′ wide in approximate dimensions with a sensation of continuing expansion of space. When we step out on the balcony, we are at the extreme outside of the petal of the flower.
I am going to show you a view of the interior taken from full-size models, which we have built of these apartments at 316 W. Randolph Street here in Chicago. You may see that there is a feeling of constant expansion – a constant space beyond in that space in which you are presently standing. This is dynamic space in contrast to static space.
The next slide will show the one-bedroom apartment. Here again you may see the way in which we constrict the functional aspects of the apartment to the narrow dimension of the flower petal and expand the apartment continuously from the center on toward the outside. Yet, with all of this expanding space, we have a lower ratio of glass area to square footage of living space than more apartment buildings. This produces an efficiency for electric heating and air conditioning. All apartments, incidentally, will be air-conditioned.
This next slide is a view of the bedroom balcony taken at our model apartment built in Chicago. As you can see, the camera man is suspended well over space.
The next slide shows the interior of the one-bedroom living room. This is actually a combination living room and dining room, and you again can see the unfolding of the balcony beyond the enclosed living space. Still beyond the balcony lies the city. In this instance, the photograph of the city was taken from a helicopter exactly located on the building site at the 40th floor of the Marina City towers. There will be 20 floors above this and of course, 40 floors below.
The next slide is that of the two-bedroom apartment, which contains two and a half petals of our flower. The living room is in the central petal. The dining room shares to some extent the petal adjacent to it with a master bedroom where they both use the same balcony.
On the opposite side of the living room is an additional master bedroom with its balcony.
The balconies serve a double function. In the first instance, they permit the expansion of living space, but in the second instance, they permit easy maintenance of the windows with washing, painting and tuckpointing, and of the heat pumps which both heat and cool the apartments. These are located outside over the balcony doors, and you have seen them in the previous photographs.
The air in the halls or central core will be conditioned by a central plant electric heat pump system and maintained under a positive pressure, so that air leakage will be into, and not out of the apartments.