Marina City


Just to be a great big cliché, I bought an issue of Monocle to accompany me on a flight recently. Amongst all the unintentionally ridiculous articles (in their "things to improve your life" section, one of the suggestions was "buy your own island"), one piece really grabbed my attention: Life in the round, Hugo Macdonald's profile of Chicago's Marina City.

The 1964 building complex, with its iconic corn cob towers, was designed by Bertrand Goldberg to be a self-contained town – full of residential and commercial units (and a blues club), it's possible to live there and rarely set foot outside. This sort of 20th century architectural/urban planning idealism fascinates me – reading about this reminds me of the thinking behind the Barbican in London. You just can't beat a good concrete citadel.

Macdonald's piece, accompanied by David Robert Elliot's stunning photography, looks at the people who live there and the variety of ways the apartments have been remodelled over the years. Of course, Monocle being Monocle, you can't actually read the article unless you're a subscriber. There is however a book, Marina City: Bertrand Goldberg's Urban Vision, that looks rather good (and would be right at home next to David Heathcote's Barbican: Penthouse Over the City).

And so the obsession begins: Marina City goes straight to the top of my places-to-live wishlist. Just above that private island.