My husband wanted me to see the $40 million in-progress transformation of Chicago’s Merchandise Mart last weekend. As you’d expect in a business operation catering to interior designers and their well-heeled clients, the Mart wanted to freshen its look by opening space both inside and looking out.
At 4.2 million gross square feet in its two city block and 25-story structure, the Merchandise Mart has bragging rights for being the second largest office building in the world (the Pentagon is in first place.)
The food court where CTA el users exit is one of the biggest transformations. Large windows now feature views of River North and the elevated train station. Comfortable seating, modern lighting and a mirrored ceiling go along nicely with food from Billy Goat Tavern or Mezza Mediterranean Grill.
Also stunning is the 50-foot wide marble staircase rising from the lobby. Red leather seat cushions make the steps another innovative place for people to congregate with a retractable 25-foot wide projection screen above the “Grand Stair.”
Another new area to the Mart is River Drive Park with umbrellas and seating arrangements overlooking the Chicago River. The project designers even included an area for food trucks to park during warm weather months.
Whether you work in the Mart or near it, this is now a destination to check out, at least once.