Mystery Spot: Merchandise Mart

November 12, 2009 6:41:07 AM PST
The Merchandise Mart was designed by the Chicago architectural firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst and White to be a "city within a city." Second only to Holabird & Root in Chicago art deco architecture, the firm had a long-standing relationship with the Field family. Construction begain in 1928 and was completed in 1931. It was built in the same style as the Chicago Board of Trade Building.

The Mart was previously owned by the Marshall Field family and served to centralize Chicago's wholesale goods business by consolidating vendors and trade under a single roof.

Its cost was reported as both $32 million and $38 million. The building was the largest in the world in terms of floor space, but was surpassed by The Pentagon in 1943, and now stands twenty-fifth on the list of largest buildings in the world.

The Mart became LEED certified in 2007, making it the largest LEED-EB building in the world.

The Merchandise Mart is partially cooled by ice and the Chicago River. Every evening, The Mart uses off-peak electrical energy to freeze 2.2 million pounds of water - which is then melted and use to cool the building during the day. This plant, which exists in the lower level of The Merchandise Mart, has been modified and expanded and now provides cooling to 100 buildings in the surrounding neighborhood.

In 1945, the Merchandise Mart was purchased for 12.5 million by former Ambassador to Great Britain Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. the father of future U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Later managed by Sargent Shriver, the building was owned for more than 50 years by the Kennedy family through Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc. until 1998, when MMPI was acquired by Vornado Realty Trust.

The Mart's president is Christopher Kennedy, grandson of Joseph Kennedy and son of Robert F. Kennedy.

The Mart encompasses:
* Twenty nine million bricks ?
* 760,000 tons of steel ?
* 74,000 windows ?
* 7380 miles of wiring ?
* 40 miles of plumbing ...
* Five miles of corridors ?
* 16 major trade shows that attract anywhere from 5,000 - 55,000 visitors ?
* over four million square feet of space ?
* Three million visitors ?
* Two full city blocks ...
* 1500 plumbing fixtures