What’s it like to live in a skyscraper?

Most of the tall buildings in downtown Chicago are offices or commercial spaces –but the iconic Marina City towers offer a chance to live up high in the heart of the city.

The distinctive towers of Marina City rise up beside the Chicago River like giant corn cobs. Designed by Bertrand Goldberg and completed in 1964, they have become icons of the city and embody the architect’s vision for urban living.

Goldberg believed that people would be at their happiest and most economically effective if they lived and worked downtown. He sought to reverse the trend of ‘urban flight’ which saw large-scale migration from the centres of US cities to their suburbs in the decades after World War Two.  

Marina City is a mixed-use building and each of the 65-storey towers feature commercial as well as residential spaces. Living units in each tower begin on the 20th floor; below those are 19-storey spiral parking garages. The apartments are arrayed from a central core like the wedges of a pie, and each has its own semi-circular balcony with awe-inspiring views of downtown Chicago.

Iker Gil is an architect who is proud to call Marina City home. He tells BBC Culture what it’s like to live at a great height in an icon of 20th Century architecture. 

Watch the other episodes of High Life:
The secret life of a tall building
Imagining the cities of the future
The world’s most terrifying view?
How do you build a skyscraper?

BBC Culture is a media partner of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, which runs from 3 October 2015 – 3 January 2016.

Throughout October and November we will look at the work of some of the world’s most exciting architects and examine how buildings shape our lives. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to get the latest from Chicago.