Chicago Day 1, take me to the river, 17th February 2017

After some time in the Loop area of Chicago Michael took us down to the riverside. A pleasant walking area has been laid out on the south bank and we strolled out on that. The weather in Chicago was unseasonably warm. I was prepared (and perhaps hoping for) frost and snow, but the sun shone, the sky was blue and sometimes we could even take our sweaters off. With the light bouncing off the glass of all the modern buildings, Chicago looked spectacular.
Below we are looking down towards the lake over Clark Bridge.  The tall block on the other bank past the brick building is 300 North Lasalle, built in 2009. It is 60 floors high and has received a platinum award from the U.S.Green Building Council. It was designed by Pickard Chilton. The block closest to us on the other bank is 321 North Clark, designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and completed in 1987.

Looking in the other direction, further towards the lake you can see more clearly the walkway which is themed along it's length, although February was not the month to see it at it's best. We were now walking up towards the State Street Bridge. As you go in this direction the architecture gets more and more exciting, but Michael was to save most of this for later in the day. For now we were to concentrate on the older constructions in this neighbourhood.

Towards State Street is Marina City, an extraordinary pair of buildings, meant to be for affordable residential use. It is self contained with parking, shops, recreational facilities, it's own theatre and even somewhere to moor you boat. It was designed by Bertrand Goldberg Associates and was built 1964-67. When it was completed the reinforced concrete towers were the tallest in the world. The shell shape meant that the internal core could be constructed first and then the individual floors could be attached sequentially, saving time and money. The form also reduced wind shear, important in the 'windy city'.  It is flanked on the right by the IBM building by Mies Van der Rohe. Mies Van der Rohe was a director in the Bauhaus School before he left Germany in 1930, moving to Chicago and joining the firm of Holabird and Root. He followed his Bauhaus principles and produced a new type of building, elegant and functional. Furthest on the right is the Trump Hotel, a very razzmatazz building designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill again

Having looked at these we turned and walked the other way. Some repair work was going on under Clark Bridge.

Opposite us was a red brick building constructed for Reid Murdoch and Company a wholesale food operation. It was completed in 1914 and designed by George Simmons. It is based on a concrete and steel frame and once had an extra bay which was removed for road widening purposes. It had sheds for the railway and docking facilities for ships.

We could not miss the enormous Merchandise Mart, all 4 million square feet of it. This was the largest building in the world before the completion of the Pentagon near Washington. It was built 1923-31 and designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst and White. The City of Chicago was encouraging riverfront development and this was made for Marshall Field and Company who brought all their wholesaler activity here. Chicago was growing as a trading city and space like this was needed. In the picture below you can see the elevated train running over the road bridge. 

The street behind us is West Wacker Drive and both buildings below were designed by the same architect, Kohn Peterson Fox. The first finished in 1989 and the second in 1983. The second was constructed to fit on a narrow wedge of land between two branches of the Chicago River, and the facade is able to reflect the river and the sky. The first building is constructed of materials that are reminiscent of those in downtown Chicago and has turrets to tie in with those of the Merchandise Mart. The  horizontal banding recalls the train tracks.

We now turned back away from the river and caught the El train back to the Loop.


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