The Merchandise Mart: A Building Book from the Chicago Architecture Foundation
A huge complex spanning two city blocks, the Merchandise Mart is the largest wholesale design center in the world. The brainchild of James Simpson of Marshall Field & Company, it was planned to house Field's huge wholesale division and prop up sagging sales.Executed by the architectural firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst and White--of Opera House and Field Museum fame--the Mart was the world's most complex mixed-use structure: a warehouse, a department store, and a commercial office tower. All this was presented in a successful blend of elements from the Chicago School, classicism, and Art Deco, built on former Chicago & North Western Railway property and air space over the tracks. Unfortunately, Field's suffered from the Great Depression, and so the Mart stood almost empty during World War II. In 1946 Joseph P. Kennedy purchased the Merchandise Mart for $16 million (it had cost $32 million to build). Under Kennedy's managerial flair; the Mart thrived. Renovations between 1986 and 1991 injected new life into the building and today the Marchandise Mart is an enduring monument to the brash, inventive, and successful Chicago spirit.
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$16 million advance Chicago's advancing public interest air rights Alfred Shaw America's Anderson Apparel Mart architects Art Deco design Booth Hansen boulevard Building Books building's built the Mart central market Chicago Architecture Foundation Chicago River Chicago School Christopher Kennedy city's Civic Opera House classic Conceived in 1927 created Daniel Burnham department store Depression Design exhibits executive Field Museum Field's manage firm of Booth floors Frank Lloyd Wright GAPW Graham Hall of Fame Hedrich Blessing idea interior James Simpson largest commercial building loft Loop Marshall Field Mart management Mart represented Mart was designed Mart was planned Mart's architecture Mart's design Mart's profile Merchandise Mart Hall Merchandise Mart Properties Millionaire Joseph Modern Art multiuse building NEOCON north bank Probst and White purchased the Mart rail yard railroad renovation River North Sears Tower showroom skyscraper structure stylish sunk to bedrock tenants tion Vornado Wacker Drive warehouse wholesale business wholesale divisions wholesale market Wholesaling Center