When completed in 1962, Marina City was one of the first residential and commercial mixed-use buildings built in the United States and was also the tallest reinforced concrete building in the world. Marina City, arguably Goldberg's most significant work, was remarkable for its sculptural use of precast reinforced concrete forms attached to a central mechanical core. Marina City was originally designed in both steel and concrete iterations—the former in response to pressure from the steel workers' union—but bids on both designs confirmed Goldberg's suspicion: that concrete was simply more economical. Similar economies were achieved through the cylindrical shape of the towers, which were originally conceived as rectangular forms. The fluidity of the structural forms in Marina City distribute stresses in a way unlike that of a standard rectilinear environment, allowing great savings in materials such as metal reinforcing bars.

Marina City's greatest achievements, perhaps, weren't technical, or even strictly architectural in nature. Keenly aware that the built environment was "responsive to its social and political environment, whether it leads it... or follows it," Goldberg sought architectural solutions that would have the power to improve the social conditions in which people lived—and Marina City was his grandest solution to date. As Mies's glass and steel architecture was rooted in the political upheaval of the Weimar Republic, so were Goldberg's designs rooted in the social and cultural upheaval of late 1950s, early 1960s America. Conceived as an antidote to the post-war exodus of the working class to the suburbs, Marina City strove to induce people to live downtown, something previously unheard of. Goldberg's diverse floor plan also anticipated an emerging "new family constituency." As increasing numbers of women entered the workforce, couples delayed having children, and divorces became more socially acceptable, new configurations of families—including single parents, and older children living on an independent basis—began to develop as an alternative to the dominant archetype of the nuclear family. Institutions, however, were slow to recognize this shifting landscape, and only due to Goldberg's own personal lobbying efforts was he able to persuade the Department of Labor that Marina City was appropriate to qualify for funding under their regulations, which stated that "the FHA was for family living."

  1. Marina City, Chicago, IL, 1959-1967. Rental brochure, "Plan for 24-hour Living" c.1963.
  2. Marina City. Construction view of core, October 13, 1961.
  3. Marina City. Exterior view of office building, c.1963.
  4. Marina City. Rental application, c.1963.
  5. Marina City. Exterior view of tower and office, c.1963.
  6. Marina City. Construction view of core and floors, c.1961.
  7. Bertrand Goldberg to Perry I. Prentice, Time, Inc., May 2, 1966.
  8. Bertrand Goldberg to Fran P. Hoskin, Women's International Network News, December 10, 1975.
  9. Marina City. Aerial exterior view, c.1963.
  10. Marina City. Exterior view of balconies, c.1963.

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