The Marshall Field and Company Building

Zoe Heidorn UPP 501, Parker

1977). The building’s older annex (sftrajan. With floor space reaching almost 35 acres. which emphasizes greater ornamentation (image 3) (Christian. Designed by Daniel H. 2006). The first three floors form the structural base and are supported by a series of lower concrete caissons and an upper granite-covered steel framework. The top three floors of the building feature recessed windows. Elaborate architectural detailing dresses the building sparingly (image 8). 1977). The structure in its final form was assembled over four phases of building between 1892 and 1914. The building is a National Historic Landmark and a Chicago Landmark. the architecture of the building itself remains nearly untouched amidst the cacophony of new development. columns and an ornate crown which caps the building (image 2). Ceiling of the the main atrium (Johnson. Inside. body and top in the Renaissance tradition. feature a granite facade and evenly spaced trios of windows in the style of the Chicago School. Each corner of the building bears a plaque and street name (Daniela. known for a near century as a bustling commercial strip (Christian. 2002). a thirteen-story light well runs through the northwest 4. A merger with the former parent company in 2006 resulted in a change of name alongside fierce protest from Marshall Field enthusiasts. Burnham in 1900. THE BUILDING The building stands in Chicago’s downtown Loop. 2004) 2. The body of the building. its architectural form is composed of base. 2009) 3.The building that houses Macy’s on State Street is one of Chicago’s great landmarks and better known by Chicagoans as the Marshall Field and Company building. Randolph and State (image 1). the fourth through tenth floors. 1. the thirteen story building was for a moment the largest retail structure in the world (Christian. The interior of the building is designed in the “commercial Beaux-Arts style” (Pridmore. While the landscape surrounding the Marshall Field building has changed dramatically in the past century. 1977). The pattern of windows partitioned by vertical piers runs uniformly up to the eleventh floor and ends in a detailed band. The formal front of the building lies on State Street. a region encompassed on four sides by local train lines. Building exterior at the corner of State and Washington (sftrajan. Wabash. It occupies a full city block measuring 340 by 385 feet between the streets of Washington. 2004) . The design of an earlier annex on the corner of Wabash and Washington is in the Italian Renaissance style.

a new shopping center across the street. Original oak flooring and walnut and mahogany wainscoting still shine throughout the building and many of the display cases are original as well (Christian.6 million pieces of glass. and a rail station (Soucek. the eyes are met with a commotion of retail on display. Two cast bronze clocks covered with more than a century of green patina (image 6) are mounted on either corner of the State Street facade (Goddard. Bags and finer office goods dwell in the building’s older annex. apparel. Looking up at the Tiffany glass dome (Patricia. the lingering smell of which is contrastingly masculine from the colognes on display. beneath escalators spanning the open space and connecting each level in a laced fashion. 2010). the largest glass mosaic in the United States (image 5) (Goddard. marked by more elaborate architectural detail in the entrances and stairwells. filled with cosmetics. Entering from the ground floor. Men’s goods sit in an adjacent room. A second Starbucks sits in the ground level at the northeast corner. A food court. shoppers can read out the contents of each department. 2004). known to be among the tallest in the world. 2011). perfumes and jewelry. 2011). 7. 5. 2010) THE EXPERIENCE The smell of perfume invades the nose as one pushes through the revolving doors on State Street. 2011). . linens. high ceilings and tall detailed columns overlook an array of finer merchandise displays. linking it to a fitness center. The structure is connected to the city’s underground pedway system. In the southwest corner is a Tiffany ceiling constructed with 1. candy and pastry shop and Starbucks coffee shop reside in the basement of the building. The main entrance stands between four fiftyfoot Ionic marble columns. Tall gold letters legible from the ground level label every floor. Glass counters run up and down the aisles. The array of merchandise offered is divided by floor and subdivided by room. The building holds nine floors of merchandise: an array of cosmetics. The thirteen-story light well brings natural light into the environment (sftrajan. Regardless of which side of the city block one enters from. At the center of the structure is a glass-topped atrium (image spanned by escalators reaching all floors (image 4). jewelry. Two cast bronze clocks hang on the corners of the State Street facade (Clock at Marshall Field’s). kitchen appliances and home furnishings. 1977). A water fountain intended for the original design by Burnham was constructed at a later date at the center of this open space (Emporis. 6. Looking up from the main atrium.portion of the structure (image 7). Bright foliage and the frequent vagrant surround the building’s periphary.

Many of the landings between these secondary escalators are seemingly barren and unfinished. odd spaces are unused and merchandise is often in disarray. The extensions of the space provided by Macy’s are not unlike those at any other of the retail chain’s locations. 2009). He took advantage of the role of women in the marketplace by offering a dignified place where they could shop without the accompaniment of men. 8. The Walnut Room (The West End. Holiday decorations hang beneath the Tiffany glass dome (demozie. Window displays depicting a wellknown childhood story are installed at the beginning of each holiday season. 2010). The building regains the charm it once wore so dashingly as a monument to civic grandeur (image 9). The escalators outside of the main atrium are shockingly narrow by today’s standard. This time of year boasts a revival of the long-lost energy of the teeming commercial landmark. There is evidence throughout the building to support the notion. He created a environment of luxury in the gritty city.Customers meandering through the building pass a series of escalator and elevator systems. however. 9. One might suspect that the fashionable upkeep of a building of this size would be overwhelming and ultimately unmanageable. Every holiday season a three-story Christmas tree is erected at the center of the room (Soucek. made artful displays of merchandise in windows. These were installed in the 1930s and considered a modern and expensive investment at the time (Goddard. 2002). The Walnut Room located on the 7th floor (image 10) features its original crystal chandeliers and dark Russian Circassian walnut wall panels. Tourists and city dwellers alike are dedicated to the customary holiday Marshall Field visit. THE SPACE IN CONTEXT Working with men who were taking commercial advantage of Chicago’s population boom in the mid-nineteenth century. Elaborate decorations grace the building’s exterior (Kuenstler. and perhaps an afternoon lunch in the Walnut Room (Greene. Lackluster displays pay no tribute to the noble space. Areas of the basement seem relatively empty and the dressing rooms are poorly maintained. 2009) . Marshall Field emerged a pioneer in the way of retail business (Pridmore. some of which seem quite archaic in fashion. 2011). Against a backdrop of handsome architecture is an obvious lack of attention to detail in the modifiable elements of the space. 2005). 2008). and 10. There are. Strips of material are missing from display cases. entailing a viewing of the windows. a few areas of the building which have been magnificently preserved. a token visit to Santa Claus.

He was the first to bring a tearoom into a retail space and by 1920 the building boasted seven distinct areas for dining. department stores are in every city and a dying trend. (Soucek. These services are rendered nearly obsolete by today’s technology and retail standards. Today. the merchandise and displays of today have turned decidedly pedestrian. The great department store of Chicago’s past looks stale amid a sea of rivals. 2005). What was started by Marshall Field became a standard for competing department stores nation-wide. but for social and personal benefit. The Marshall Field and Company building stands as a ghostly monument to a bygone era of retail in early Chicago. Customers were invited to use the space not only for retail transaction. Modern retail spaces echo the same organization and business techniques that gave Marshall Field and his successors such an advantage. There is a palpable disconnect between the physical building and the business it contains. 2010). At one point the building housed a library. reading room and medical facility for use by shoppers.offered a level of customer service not seen in the day (Greene. “Information” and “accommodation bureaus” offering transportation information and telephone services were part of the customer service mantra pioneered by Marshall Field and Company. The available brands are relatively commonplace and the racks are prone to seasonal clearances. What Marshall Field accomplished in his time was unprecedented. . The luxury and strength of the space at its height popularized its role in the marketplace and offered something new to shoppers. Contrary to the era of commercial luxury the building’s architecture harks back to.

2011. (2002).britannica. United States Department of the Interior. (Photographer). Inc. from: http://www. 2011. 2011.Sources Cited Christian. S. Marshall Field’s: the Walnut Room [Photograph].. (2011). from: http://www. J.flickr. (2009). flickr. Retrieved from http://hdl. Retrieved September 4.. sftrajan.com/photos/sftrajan/1237487331 sftrajan. K. Retrieved September 2. Charleston. (2005). Marshall Field & Co.net. [Photograph]. Inc. Marshall Field’s Wabash & Washington Bg (1892) [Photograph]. (2008). 2011.cc. Christmas in Chicago-Marshall Field’s 3 [Photograph].com/photos/sftrajan/1238360226 Soucek. (Photographer).html . 2011. M. (Photographer). (2006). from: http://www. Marshall Field’s [Photograph]. Goddard. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. (2011). Retrieved September 10.chicagohistory. Retrieved September 8.focus. 2011. Retrieved from http://www. (2004). Retrieved September 2. from: http:// www.. Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Marshall Field’s [Photograph]. (2005). (2009).gov/docs/NHLS/ Text/78001123.. (2004). California: Pomegranate Communications.com/application/?nav=building&ln g=3&id=marshallfieldcompanystore-chicago-il-usa Greene.com/photos/thewestend/3788281510 Twyman. Marshall Field’s: a building from the Chicago Architecture Foundation. G. R. South Carolina: The History Press. (Photographer). Charleston.com/photos/sftrajan/2073197166 sftrajan. from: http:// www. South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. Marshall Field’s: The store that helped build Chicago. (1954). Retrieved September 10. Retrieved September 2. R.flickr.com/photos/rocknrolldetox/207058080/ demozie (Photographer). from: http://www. Macy’s at State Street. from: http://www. 2011. Encyclopædia Britannica. (Photographer). (Photographer).com/photos/tamarackgold/4442352638 Pridmore. Remembering Marshall Field’s.com/photos/stvk5/4170984352 Patricia. W.flickr. Retrieved from http://www.proxy. from: http://www.flickr. L.flickr.handle. Retrieved September 4. Retrieved from http://www. Retrieved from http://pdfhost.emporis. J. Still Marshall Field’s to me [Photograph].00319 Wilson. UK: Pomegranate Communications. (2004). (2010). Marshall Field’s food and fashion.edu/2027/heb. from: http://www. Warwick.com/photos/10847211@N04/2998415936/ Emporis. Retrieved September 2. R. com/EBchecked/media/141910/One-of-two-clocks-at-the-Marshall-Fields-flagship-department Daniela. (Photographer). History of Marshall Field & Co. Marshall Field’s Chicago [Photograph].flickr. 2011. 2011. Johnson.org/pages/2663. 1852-1906. (1977).uic. Marshall Field’s [Photograph].encyclopedia. National register of historic places inventory-nomination: Marshall Field & Company Store. (Photographer). (2010). J.com/photos/aka_kath/3510450068 Kuenstler.pdf Clock at Marshall Field’s. Marshall Field’s State and Washington 2004 [Photograph]. (2009).nps.flickr. The West End. Rohnert Park.flickr.

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