Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Review: Marina City: Bertrand Goldberg's Urban Vision

Note: This review previously appeared in our sister publication, The Chicago Architecture Blog, published July 26, 2010.

"The Corncob Towers." "The Pie Spires." "Aunt Flo's Curlers." People may not always know what the twin towers on State Street at the Chicago River are called, but they at least know them.  Bertrand Goldberg's penultimate architectural creation, Marina City (300 North State Street), has inspired and amazed a generation of tourists and locals.  Now a new book chronicles how the buildings we see today were shaped, and what went on behind the scenes.

The book is called Marina City: Bertrand Goldberg's Urban Vision (published by Princeton Architectural Press) and its 176 pages are packed with great information about the development of the buildings, starting from inspiration through construction and on to occupation.

Many people don't realize it, but Marina City was Chicago, and America's first downtown revitalization project.  It proved that if you built a city-within-a-city, you could attract people to the urban core where they would live, work, and thrive.  Since then the idea has been copied and expanded in Chicago and around the world.  Today a responsible developer wouldn't think of embarking on a huge project without considering the live+work+play model.  But in the 1960's, a time when suburban cul-de-sac developers and auto dealers were demonizing America's urban cores, this was considered revolutionary.

More than just the story of a building, this book tells the tale of the people behind Marina City -- the deals that had to be brokered, the challenges faced, the hurdles surmounted; with enough politics and intrigue to make this a truly Chicago story.

As someone who travels around the world frequently, whenever I mention Chicago to someone, I cringe in anticipation of the inevitable reference to Al Capone.  But did you know that Marina City was celebrated around the world as a new symbol of Chicago's renaissance?  It was influential enough to supplant Capone as the first notion people had of Chicago.  American Airlines published a guide to Chicago that featured Marina City on its cover.   Even in Cold War-era Moscow, Marina City was known and considered a symbol of the city.

As interesting as all the facts and background material are, it's the photos that really make this book.  Historic pictures and diagrams of Marina City that show it with the old TV tower still on top.  There are pictures of the skyscrapers when they were new and clean, and not festooned with twinkle lights and blow-up dolls as they frequently are now.  Perhaps if today's residents of Marina City read this book, they might treat their home with a little more respect and pride.

If you have even a passing interest in Chicago's history or architecture, I recommend picking this book up.  It's a quick and easy read and contains a lot of good information.

Details:
Marina City: Bertrand Goldberg's Urban Vision
By Igor Marjanovic and Katerina R├╝edi Ray
Published May 26, 2010 by Princeton Architectural Press
176 pages - Paperback
US $35.00, UK £25.00

Note:
This book was sent to me unsolicited by Princeton Architectural Press.  I have received no monetary or other compensation for this review.  If you would like to send a book for review, contact me at editor@chicagoarchitecture.info and I'll send you the mailing address.

If you're interested in the book, here's an Amazon.com link allowing you to buy it at a discount. By using this link, you help financially support this web site.

Architecture Exhibition Coincides With London Olympics

If you're among those looking forward to the 2012 Olympics in London, then this press release just sent over by Populous (formerly HOK Sport) will be of interest to you:


Friday, July 23, 2010

City Scene: Gift Shop, Ngong Ping

Wherever there is a buck to be made in China, someone is trying to make it.  This is a gift shop outside of a monastery and shrine in Ngong Ping in the New Territories of China.  It is well equipped to handle the needs of anyone who forgot to bring their sacrifices, or perhaps realized too late that their sacrifices pale in comparison to their neighbors sacrifices.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

City Scene: Graves' Grave Grave

This is the final resting place of Dexter Graves in Chicago.  It is easily the creepiest gravestone we've ever come across.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

City Scene: Deutsche Orientbank, Istanbul


The beautifully ornate Deutsche Orientbank is evidence of a different period of time in geopolitics, when Germany was a colonial power with aspirations for Middle East expansion.  Today the once glorious building is on a back street in Istanbul, and no longer the presence it once was.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

City Scene: Explosive Fishing, Hong Kong


This sign at Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong warns against using electricity, poison, or explosives while fishing.  You have to wonder about the kind of society that warrants this sort of warning.

Monday, July 19, 2010

TweetEcho: July 19, 2010

For those of you who don't subscribe to our Twitter feed, here are the tweets we posted over the last week or so:

  1. L.A. Unified's faulty vision for schools on Ambassador site -http://ow.ly/2dIhI
  2. Britain 'will be scarred as cuts end a golden age of architecture' http://ow.ly/2dHFn
  3. Four photos of downtown #Bellevue have been added to the Around The World In 80 Pix gallery at Towrs.http://ow.ly/2d92p
  4. RT @WATG "We're excited about the opening of the RoyalOperaHouse in Muscat." We are too, WATG. Any pix we can use for our web site readers?
  5. Added the Yeong Wo Building - 746 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, California - Photos and Informationhttp://ow.ly/27knA
  6. Added the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts - 701 Mission Street, San Francisco, California - Photos and Informationhttp://ow.ly/27knc

City Scene: Breaking News, Toronto

A television live truck crashes through the wall of a building in downtown Toronto.  The truck is a work of art placed there by CITY Television back when this was the CHUM-CITY Building.  Later, as stations were bought and sold in the market, the truck was repainted with the CityPulse24 logo.  The media companies have since vacated this building.  Last we heard, it was undecided if the truck would stay.  Some consider it a great piece of folk art and a landmark of the neighborhood.

Friday, July 16, 2010

City Scene: Christ the Redeemer, Ischia Porto

A statue of Christ the Redeemer looks out over the harbor of Ischia Porto on the island of Ischia in Italy.  Over the decades it has welcomes countless sailors, tourists, and others to the sheltering waters of the calm harbor.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

City Scene: Brussels Metro

The yellow and blue trams of the Brussels Metro sail into Brussels Midi station.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

TweetEcho: July 12, 2010

For those of you who don't subscribe to our Twitter feed, here are the tweets we posted over the last week or so:


  1. Added #Microsoft Building 92 - 15010 Northeast 36th Street,#Redmond, Washington - Photos and Informationhttp://ow.ly/27km1
  2. Towrs building of the day: Eight One Nine in #Vancouver,#BritishColumbia http://ow.ly/1XHiA
  3. Added the King County District Courthouse Northeast Division - 8601 160th Avenue Northeast, Redmond, Washington - Photos and Information...
  4. Towrs building of the day: Fox Plaza in #SanFrancisco,#California http://ow.ly/1XHir
  5. Redmond City Hall - 15010 160th Avenue Northeast, Redmond, Washington - Photos and Informationhttp://ow.ly/27klt
  6. Towrs building of the day: 2016 Main in #Houston#Texashttp://ow.ly/1XHio
  7. The Redmond Marriott Town Center - 7401 164th Avenue Northeast, Redmond, Washington - Photos and Informationhttp://ow.ly/27klf
  8. Towrs building of the day: 22 Battery Street in #SanFrancisco,#California http://ow.ly/1XHih
  9. Added the Redmond Public Safety Building - 8701 160th Avenue Northeast, Redmond, Washington - Photos and Information http://ow.ly/27kl3
  10. Added the #Redmond Town Center - 16495 Northeast 74th Street, Redmond, Washington - Photos and Informationhttp://ow.ly/27kkz
  11. Added the Willowmoor Farm Windmill - 6046 West Lake Sammamish Parkway Northeast, #Redmond, Washington - Photos and Information...
  12. Prince Charles Defends His Involvement in Architecture Dispute - ArtsBeat Blog - NYTimes.com http://ow.ly/27krR
  13. Maltese architecture showcased at the London Festival of Architecture 2010 http://ow.ly/27krl
  14. Towrs building of the day: The Republic Building in #Houston,#Texas http://ow.ly/1XHhX
  15. Los Angeles police headquarters, L.A. LIVE complex win architectural awards http://ow.ly/27cwW #LA #LAX#LosAngeles #architecture
  16. Bank of America is foreclosing on Newark's tallest skyscraper | NJ.com http://ow.ly/27cuH #Newark #skyscraper #recession#artdeco

City Scene: BP Pedestrian Bridge, Chicago

The BP Pedestrian Bridge snakes across Columbus Drive in Chicago.  The sun glints off its stainless steel scales as the serpentine structure carries pedestrians between Millennium Park and Grant Park.

Monday, July 5, 2010

TweetEcho: July 5, 2010

For those of you who don't subscribe to our Twitter feed, here are the tweets we posted over the last week or so:


  1. Towrs building of the day: Capitol Records Building in #LosAngeles,#California http://ow.ly/1XHhN
  2. We've added another 50 #SanFrancisco buildings to the Towrs web site: http://ow.ly/26S7I #SFO #architecture #skyscraper
  3. Towrs building of the day: Two Shell Plaza in #Houston,#Texas http://ow.ly/1XHht
  4. Towrs building of the day: Cathedral Place in #Vancouver,#BritishColumbia http://ow.ly/1XHhf
  5. I.M. Pei's vision http://dld.bz/jGNn (via @CCBGArchitects)
  6. Towrs building of the day: The Byrd Building in #Houston,#Texas http://ow.ly/1XHh5
  7. Towrs building of the day: Fisherman's Wharf in#SanFrancisco#California http://ow.ly/1XHgV
  8. We've teamed up with Whrrl to make exploring the world's#architecture more fun and social! Get the app here:http://ow.ly/251wC
  9. Towrs building of the day: The Hong Kong Club in#HongKong#China http://ow.ly/1XHgN
  10. Added another dozen skyscrapers to the #SanFranciscosection of Towrs: http://ow.ly/24UlX #skyscraper#architecture #BayArea
  11. New 16-story office tower planned for #Austin:http://ow.ly/24U08 #architecture #skyscraper #Texas
  12. An interview with #architect Rafael Vinoly about his plans for Battersea Power Station in #London http://ow.ly/24rR0
  13. Towrs building of the day: Congress Plaza in #Houston,#Texas http://ow.ly/1XHgB
  14. How Architect I.M. Pei's Vision Redesigned Our Skylines - Investors.com http://ow.ly/24pYU
  15. The house of the future will be like living in an #iPad:http://ow.ly/24iRT
  16. The American Swedish Institute in #Minneapolis unveils new glass addition by HGA http://ow.ly/24ji9 #architecture #MN#MSP
  17. New Abu Dhabi #skyscraper leans 4x more than the Tower of Pisa: http://ow.ly/24iRi #architecture #UAE
  18. Latest #FreedomTower construction picture. Taken yesterday (26Jun2010): http://ow.ly/23Y2z #WorldTradeCenter #WTC#NYC #911
  19. Towrs building of the day: The Pomaria in #Vancouver,#BritishColumbia http://ow.ly/1XHgr
  20. Transport for #London no longer first tenant at #skyscraperas #Shard backs out of agreement | Needofficespacehttp://ow.ly/23Tyl