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The Smurfit Building, Chicago IL

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Did you know that this skyscraper is the one chicagoans make more jokes about? Despite it, its shape is among their favorite in the Skyline!

The Smurfit-Stone Building is a 41-story skyscraper with a total height of 582 foot – 177 meter. Its privileged location at the magnificent Michigan Avenue on the corner of Millennium Park gives great visibility and highlights its original and uncommon shape: The slanted diamond roof. Designed by Epstein and Sons its construction began in 1983 and was completed in less than a year!

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View from “The Bean” in Millennium Park

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Smurfit’s back and amazing view over Millenium Park

The Smurfit is an office building cleverly designed according to its context: the service cores are rotated 45 degress from the street grid, producing diagonally-oriented office floorplans to take advantage of the extraordinary southeast views over Millennium Park. Who wouldn’t like to work there with such an inspiring cityscape?  Although the best office space would be in the pent house the five top floors are actually unused, they hold the facilities and the HVAC equipment.

But why this building stands out so much?

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Because from its diamond shaped roof the building started to be referred as “The Vagina Building” from the locally popular but apocryphal story that, with its prominent vertical slit up the front, the building was designed to be a feminine counter to the phallicism of most skyscrapers. At night is highlighted with an outline of white light bulbs, and around holidays they are replaced with coloured lights depending on the festivity: orange-Thanksgiving, green/red-Christmas, pink-Valentine’s day…

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The famous diamond slanted roof

Although the building looks as though it is split down the middle, the two sides are only slightly disjointed until nearing the top where there is a gap between them. At times, its slanted roof – which has been likened to a skyscraper slashed with a knife – displays local sports slogans on its face, such as “GO BEARS” or “GO SOX”

Despite all popular jokes the Smurfit Building really gives a beautifully feminine touch to the city and this original shape enriches even more the architectural variety of Chicago’s Skyline. What do you think?

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Hope you plan a visit and enjoy the experience! We would love to see and share your pictures and anecdotes with the Skyliner community 😉

Safe travels!!

Lake Shore Drive Apartments: Less is More

Skyline Architecture- Lake Shore Drive by Mies-1
Did you know Mies van der Rohe design for these towers was initially not accepted because it was considered to be too extreme?
Curiously the mentality shifted over the years and this advanced aesthetics were copied extensively, being considered now characteristic of the modern International Style as well as essential for the development of modern High-tech architecture.
The materials are common: steel, aluminum and glass. Yet what made these building so special was the structural clarity and composition, which followed his principle “less is more” as it is demonstrated in his self-proclaimed “skin and bones” architecture.

Skyline Architecture- Lake Shore Drive by Mies-2 “the bones” Construction process – Lake Shore Drive apartments

With its 254 ft (82 m) height and 26 floors, the project was completed in 1951. Each building alone is symmetrical with a total of 288 apartments, one tower with three bedroom apt. and the other one with one bedroom apt., over the years many of the units have been combined to enlarge living spaces.

The disposition of the two plans is perpendicular creating and interesting dynamism between them and offering a great variety of breathtaking views, either overlooking Lake Michigan or Downtown Chicago.

Skyline Architecture- Lake Shore Drive by Mies-3 home_floorplan-custom1-v2Floor Plan
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​Sketch of the views Mies van der Rohe was imagining for the apts.

Mies architecture didn’t rely on applied ornamentation, but rather on clarity of form achieved through elegant proportions and exacting detail. Prior to his manifesto, structure was commonly hidden within architecture. Here instead, Mies merged the two by exposing the steel, realizing his own believes: “When technology reaches its true fulfillment, it transcends into architecture.”

Skyline Architecture- Lake Shore Drive by Mies-5Mies perfect detailing lead to prefabrication and quick assembling
Pictures of the Mies van der Rohe Society

At Skyline Architecture we were very happy to have the opportunity to visit these two towers of such historical importance. We were completed amazed by Mies van der Rohe work, from the urban layout, to the innovative aesthetics and perfect detailing. Here are some of our pics!

SONY DSCThe two towers relation
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The ground floor
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Welcoming canopy
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The entrance
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Mies van der Rohe furniture – Lobby
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Materiality
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Corner Detailing
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We thought it was quite impressive to be up there! Definitively worth a visit for its historic importance and architecture greatness. If you would also like to see the breathtaking interiors check this pics from http://www.chicagomag.com
Skyline Architecture- Lake Shore Drive by Mies-15
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​​Enjoy your visit and feel free to share your experience with the Skyliners! Safe travels!!

Marina Towers​: The first circular apartment buildings in history

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One of the most iconic towers in the skyline of Chicago is the Marina City complex. Did you know they were the first circular apartment buildings in history?

At Skyline Architecture we were very lucky to know somebody who lived there, so we will now show you first hand everything we learned about this innovative design.
Marina City is a 65-story mixed use residential and commercial building. Built between 1960 and 1967 at a time when Chicagoans were fleeing to the suburbs, the hugely ambitious project was Goldberg’s collaborative attempt at urban revitalization, as he called it, “a city within a city.”
marinatowers_virginiaduran_0Situated beside the main branch of the Chicago River and really close to Trump Tower, Marina City complex was made by two identical towers.​
The building complex, with its iconic corn cob towers, has identical floor plans.  It was designed as a self-contained town, full of residential and commercial units. Marina City was part of an effort to reintroduce downtown Chicago as an attractive place to live. It is actually a complex of five structures: two residential towers (65 stories each, with the first 18 stories reserved for parking), an office building (10 stories), and a theatre building all standing upon a large commercial platform. Its total height is 587 feet (179m).
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Chicago Daily News Image: Corn Shaped Towers
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Amazing views from its rooftop – Aqua Tower on the right​
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Views from the other side of the rooftop – Hancock Tower on the left
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Standard Studio – Panoramic from its balcony looking insidevirginiaduranblog_choe1
Amazing Skyline views of West Chicago at night
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This are the same views during sunset
Each tower contains more than four hundred apartments and a continuous, upward-spiralling ramp of parking spaces. The circle gave the highest ratio of usable floor space to exterior skin.
Marina City is notable in that it is the first building in the United States to be constructed with tower cranes.
The structure is composed by a central reinforced concrete core (where the elevators are) and a radial disposure of the beams. This is very symbolic because to Goldberg, this point of union was exactly where the core structure was: with the elevators, the meeting point.

virginia duran blog_marina towers- floor planGeneral Floor Plan
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One bedroom apartment

Surprisingly, some of the apartments still preserve its original furniture. The kitchen, for example, feels like a real 1960’s space. A very unique vintage look that now rises the value and appreciation for those units.

Lay down, relax, grab a beer, enjoy the views….. definitively a priceless building for architecture lovers. Wanna join?
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Enjoy your Marina City experience and feel free to share your stories with us! Safe travels Skyliners!!