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A Gut Renovation for a Retro Chicago Apartment in the Iconic Marina City Towers

By Dwell @dwell
Marina City Towers exterior

Often likened to corncobs or honeycombs, each Marina City tower has 19 levels of open-air garage parking beneath 40 levels of residences. Their strident pose beside the river, atop a podium of shops, restaurants, services, and a marina, was part of their financer’s effort to build a showstopper that would keep 900 families in the city at the height of urban flight.

The twin towers of Marina City, designed by modernist master Bertrand Goldberg, are closing in on landmark protection—something most Chicagoans probably assumed they already had. When Jean Dufresne of Space Architects + Planners embarked on a gut renovation of a Loop- and lake-facing two-bedroom unit for a new owner. The space presented as it did upon the towers’ completion in 1964: shag carpeting, a mint green bathroom, metal cabinets, and laminate counters being the currency of the day. “It all sounds cool and retro, but it had not been maintained,” says Dufresne. “The view, now that was amazing.” The client, a single dad, wanted an exhilarating space that fully capitalized on that vantage point.

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