Tag: Marina Towers

Architectural Abundance: You live in a……..Corncob?


Chicago is a mecca for the world’s finest architects.  I remember the first time I visited Chicago.  It was fascinating to me that so many buildings could be aesthetically opposite to one another and yet look symbiotic at the same time.

Two of my favorite buildings (well, they are identical) in the entire city are the buildings of Marina City.  These two buildings sit on the North bank of the Chicago River.  Bertrand Goldberg designed these two beauties in 1959; by 1964, they were completed.

There are several businesses at the base of each building.  As we go up, way up, there are 19 floors of exposed parking, and the rest of the 61 floors (save floor number 20 for laundry) are condominiums.

These round-shaped wonders are affectionately known to the locals as, “The Corncobs”.  Ah, yes, to be known by the rest of the city as sky-high vegetables.  What floor do you live on? Floor? Why, I live in Kernel #502 dontcha know (hhhmmppph……floor….really…..).   The picture below was taken by a friend of mine when we were on an architectural boat tour.

I know someone who has lived in one of “The Corncobs” since the early 1970’s and absolutely loves it.  I suppose if one has children and wanted to give them a ‘time-out’ in the corner, that would be a rather difficult task, given the buildings are round! “You, little Johnny, go have your time-out in the, um, well just run around in a few circles for a minute.”

With respect to parking, apparently (and the picture below seems to coincide with what I’ve heard on the streets!) you have to ‘back into’ the parking spaces.  Now, you are probably wondering if a car has ever decided to take a plunge into the Chicago River to test the waters, as it were.  I do believe this happened once; ah, but it was for a movie shot so I guess that counts only in the technical sense.

D65-310288 - © - Walter Bibikow

When “The Corncobs” are all decked out with butter, um, I mean at night with Christmas lights on, this is what they look like:

Marina Towers at night

Chicago’s famous, “House of Blues” is located at the bottom of one of “The Corncobs”.  Gee, I wonder what they sing about? Perhaps the theme song could be something like this:

“Oh I’m stuck in the bottom of a corncob,

And I don’t know what to do,

Oh yeah I’m stuck in the bottom of a corncob,

No, butter, no salt, that’s why I’m feeling oh so blue.”

If you are ever in Chicago, head downtown and ask anyone where “The Corncobs” are located.  No one will point you to the supermarket, that is for sure.

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