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Marina City, Chicago
Model consists of approximately 5,000 pieces.
About this creation
This is my eleventh custom skyscraper model and my twenty-fourth overall. Marina City is a mixed-use complex occupying an entire city block on State St. The complex is comprised of two corncob-shaped highrises, the House of Blues, the Hotel Sax, as well as a few restaurants. It is named after the marina it houses for use by residents. Marina City was one of the first ever city building complexes to introduce the idea of "a city within a city." The residential and commercial space blended together in a rather confined area formed the basis for thoughts on what a skyscraper should be and what it should accomplish.

This is my twelfth Chicago skyscraper model. Ever since I started making skyscraper models, I have always wanted to do this building. However, I never thought of a feasible way to pull it off until late 2012. In this instance, it wasn't the non-existence of certain vital parts that kept it off for so long, it was more that I wasn't able to think of a suitable way until one day it simply came to me. Design time was about a month and a half, build time was about a week, and overall time, from inception to completion, was about five months. Model completed February 14, 2013.

Brickshelf photos here

LEGO® Digital Designer file here

Blogs and articles about this model:
North Loop News Chicago
Chicago B96

Upon completion in 1964, the Marina City towers became both the tallest residential buildings and the tallest reinforced concrete buildings in the world. Designed in 1959 by architect Bertrand Goldberg, Marina City was built in a joint venture with Brighton Construction Company and James McHugh Construction Company. Interestingly, the James McHugh Construction Company went on to build Water Tower Place and Chicago's Trump Tower; both of which became the tallest reinforced concrete buildings in the world at the time.

On the north end of the complex sits the Hotel Sax Chicago. This four-star luxury hotel serves as a place where visitors can stay within the complex as the two towers are reserved for residences. The Hotel Sax is supported by stilts that attach to the lower floors. In the model, dark bluish-gray R2-D2 legs are used as the stilts; because of this method, the lower floors required a vast array of technic pieces on the inside.

A close-up of the back of the hotel, lower rooftop details, and the structural stilts.

Another aspect of Marina City that attributes to its status as a city within a city, is the on-site theater, the House of Blues. Built in the shell of the complex's former under-used movie theater, the House of Blues offers live music venues for entertainment of both the public and residents of the complex.

The marina along the Chicago River offers docking space for the residents' pleasure crafts. The floors above are used as restaurant space for the on-site Smith & Wollensky steakhouse restaurant.

Marina City was the first building in the US to be constructed using tower cranes. For the model, the key element in giving the towers their shape was actually first produced in 1982. These 1x8 technic plates are unique in that the rounded ends have double female-female connectors that allow for a normal stud connection on bottom as well as an inverted connection on top. Each column is built this way. The corncob shape is then accomplished by simply rotating the 1x8 plates about centered jumper plates.

Between each tower's parking levels and the residence floors are sections where the structural columns are exposed. To accomplish this shape, I used a nifty little trick in which 1x2 plates with side bars are rotated around a 2x2 round brick, then bound in place using a rubber band. The rubber band itself is in fact LEGO® as well. The overall experience of designing the towers was rather enjoyable. Thanks to the new 6x6 round plate, it was quite simple to take advantage of circumferential similarities between the various round pieces that work well together and allowed for the model to take shape.

The House of Blues was especially difficult to design. The saddle-shaped roof is accomplished using a LEGO® cloth, originally made as the cape for an oversize Bionicle-style minifigure from the Kingdoms line. The majority of the cloth is folded underneath the outside and is held in place by the white flex tubes which outline the edge of the roof.


 I like it 
  April 5, 2014
Gorgeous Tower here as usual Rocco! This is one of those towers that confounds you both in Lego and in person. I criss-crossed those bridges and one-way roads more than a few times looking for that perfect picture angle of this one last time I was in Chicago. You've reproduced it mnasterfully, just like you do with all your towers. Great MOCing!!!
 I like it 
  May 22, 2013
Great MOC. Blogged on MicroBricks The cloth roof is particularly inspired.
 I like it 
  April 12, 2013
Fantastic! Can you do the Old Prentice Women's Hospital by Bertrand Goldberg? Contact me via email - I would be interested to sponsor! Great Work!
 I like it 
  March 24, 2013
Love this one! All your buildings have such great detail!
 I like it 
  March 24, 2013
You are to my LEGO skills as Keith Emerson is to my piano skills--far better than I will ever be. This is an amazing piece of work and probably my favorite skyscraper of yours. Good work! I love the diversity of shapes and how cleverly you replicated them in LEGO
 I made it 
  March 23, 2013
Thanks for all the positive feedback everyone! I hope you enjoyed Colors of Chicago!
 I like it 
  March 23, 2013
Overflow of different shapes here. I like it!
 I like it 
  March 22, 2013
Another beautifully created building. Well done. --Blast--
 I like it 
  March 22, 2013
Awesome work!
 I like it 
  March 22, 2013
Incredible techniques, once again!
 I like it 
  March 21, 2013
 I like it 
  March 21, 2013
Beautifully made.
By Rocco Buttliere
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LEGO models my own creation MOCpages toys shop Marina City, ChicagoLandmarks

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