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The following article is from Chicago the World’s Youngest City published in 1929, written by Claude A. Wells, General Manager.
Merchandise Mart Will Be The World’s Largest Building
“Colossus of marketplaces” is a term that appropriately describes a structure that will be the world’s largest building, the Merchandise Mart, being erected in Chicago, at the crossroads of American commerce. It is intended, for the purpose of general merchandising, to simplify wholesale buying and selling and to foster broader and better inter-industry co-operation through centralization of efforts.
Merchandise Mart Concept Drawing
The main facade of this mammoth structure faces the Chicago River and Wacker Drive, with eighteen floors and a six-story central tower. The building extends two blocks east and west, between North Wells and Orleans Streets, on a rhomboidal slant along the latter to Kinzie Street. Its riverside front measures 577 feet. Due to the oblique angle of the western end, the Kinzie Street length is 724 feet. The Merchandise Mart is an air-rights development built over the tracks of the Chicago & North Western Railroad. This mighty monument of steel, concrete and stone rests upon 45S reinforced concrete caissons with truncated-cone spreading bases reaching down eighty to one hundred feet below the street level. This number of caissons is more than twice the number ever before utilized in the foundation of a building. The Mart comprises approximately 4,000,000 square feet of floor space, or about 200,000 square feet to each floor. The use of sales and display quarters along its 650-foot corridors will permit a practical merging of the progressive functions of entire mercantile industries. Thus is put into the hands of manufacturers, distributors and importers of goods of kindred nature an opportunity to solidify their internal relationship, to deal on a more economical basis with their merchant customers, and to receive the manifold benefits of a decidedly new factor in commercial endeavor
The Merchandise Mart will establish a comprehensive exposition of manufacturers’ wares within the easy reach of the average buyer, saving him several hours’ time in travel, and considerable expense. Spaces for display rooms, sales-rooms and for flexible storage are to be arranged scientifically, always with a view to the most practical concentration of goods. The third to eighteenth floors, inclusive, will be devoted to merchandise showrooms and sales offices. The building’s largest tenant, Marshall Field and Company (Wholesale) will occupy the entire third to sixth floors, inclusive.
The lobby floor is to provide all the modern time-saving and convenience requisites, such as a buyers’ service department where the visitor may obtain directions for his trip in the building; bank, restaurant, barber shop, cigar and news stands, telegraph offices, telephones, branch postoffice, drug store, etc. On the second floor will be the exhibition halls to be used for temporary exhibits, fashion shows and special displays of the Marc’s tenants. In the tower, on the twentieth to twenty-third floors, inclusive, is to be the Merchants’ Club, with complete facilities for the accommodation of visiting retailers. On the twenty-fourth and topmost floor will be found the convention hall.
In the tower of the Mart building the National Broadcasting Company is to install the largest radio-broadcast station in the world. There will be six studios, all equipped with the latest devices to meet their needs. Studio “A” will be the largest radio theater in the world. It will be seventy-five feet long, fifty-one feet wide, with a total floor space of 3,820 square feet, and a total content of 99,450 cubic feet. The studio will have numerous innovations in equipment. Instead of the usual drapes utilized in the regulating of acoustical effects, it will be walled with adjustable narrow panels.
The other studios will vary in dimensions, to meet acoustical requirements. The total floor space devoted to the six broadcasting rooms will be 10,228 square feet, and total content will be 265,928 cubic feet. Each studio will have a soundproof, glass-enclosed balcony, to enable invited guests to see the performers in the studio and hear through loud speakers as radio audiences hear them All the studios except “F” will be on the nineteenth floor of the Mart, and will be two stories in height.
On the same floor will be the offices of the division engineer, plant and operating engineers, control boards, music library, musicians’ rest rooms and lockers, reception rooms, announcers’ rooms and lockers, artists’ reception rooms, quarters for the library staff and engineering laboratory. From observation rooms on the twentieth floor, visitors will be afforded a view of the performances in the studios.
Perhaps no other location on earth would have been better suited to a structure of the uses and importance of the Merchandise Mart. It will accommodate thousands of wholesale sellers of every kind and variety of goods known as general merchandise, each in his separate or co-operative sales and display rooms. A merchant buyer will be enabled to do all his shopping in the showrooms along one corridor. The immense savings this will bring to stores, not to mention the tenants of this great central market, are not computable. That the Merchandise Mart effects to a major degree for America’s merchants “less time buying, more time selling,” is foreseen.
Entrance Merchandise Mart
Wolf Point, site of Merchandise Mart