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Marina City Replaces Evacuation Maps…with Laundry Room Memos

(Photo: Is this cute polar bear worth dying for?)

This news nugget is short, sweet, and highly stupid. Monday morning now marks eight consecutive days that management here at the Marina City corncobs has covered the legally required high-rise emergency evacuation maps in the complex’s East Tower with a cute-polar-bear-emblazoned laundry room memo.

The backstory: last week, the Marina Towers Condominium Association completed a month-long renovation of the 20th-floor laundry room in East Tower (the residential condo tower fronting State Street.) During my four-and-a-half years residing here, ordinarily when announcing official news the Draper and Kramer-run management office  directs building maintenance staff to slip individual memos–usually printed on condominium association or management office letterhead–underneath the approximately 450 apartment doors in each tower.

Maybe the official office printer ran out of ink. Instead, last Sunday, November 29th, a flyer similar to the above-pictured memo appeared in front of the legally required evacuation maps in the elevator lobbies on every single East Tower residential floor from 21 through 60. They announced the opening the following day of the new East Tower laundry room–which promptly flooded, thanks to a workman who didn’t bother to hook one of the new washers up to a drain.

But I digress. Here’s the incredible part. After breaking the law (wait for it) by covering up 40 floors of emergency evacuation maps with cute polar bear memos, a second memo–like the one pictured above which I found on floor 37–was posted in the evacuation-map holders, replacing the first, and continuing to hide the legally required maps.

Here’s a cuddly close-up:


The only difference between the two memos? This one announces the laundry room as already open (instead of “opening tomorrow”.) Although the memo displays neither a date nor a condominium association nor management office letterhead marking, as you can see, the content is clearly of an official nature. Unless we have a resident here at the corncobs who’s highly committed to letting their neighbors know about laundry room news by walking up and down 40 floors with a stack of memos every few days, I’d like to know who else is responsible for this memo and its predecessor?

If you look really closely at these photos, you can even make out the emergency evacuation map the cute polar bear is swimming on. But to save you the strain, here’s the very map that was sitting beneath the above memo:


And, in case you were wondering, the Chicago ordinance that makes this cute polar bear memo illegal is amended Title 13 of the Municipal Code of Chicago, Chapters 13-78, otherwise known as the Evacuation Ordinance for High-Rise Buildings. Find a summary here.

Better yet, download–and read–the entire ordinance as a PDF, here. I did. Here’s what I found–none of which would make that polar bear very happy.

Apparently, the Marina City corncobs are Class A (residential) Category 2 (from 540 to 780 feet tall–each Marina City tower measures approximately 585 feet) towers. That means they’re required to have official emergency evacuation plans in place and on file with the city’s Office of Emergency Communications.

Most importantly, Section 13-78-080 lays out the minimum evacuation plan requirements. Sub-section (c) here specifically requires:

“…the creation and posting, in all elevator lobbies, of the high rise building’s core floor plan, showing floor-by-floor corridors, stairways, evacuation routes, areas of rescue assistance and elevator lobbies. With respect to residential high rise buildings, the core floor plan also shall be made available to each residential unit for posting inside the residential unit.”

That means, in vulgar parlance, evacuation maps. You will notice, the subsection says nothing about cute polar bears–who are now, sadly, public offenders.

Equally interesting to me as a longtime Marina City resident, Section 13-78-100 (b), on the distribution of evacuation plan information in residential buildings, says that residents should receive annual copies of the official evacuation plan. And Section 13-78-090 (b), covering safety drills, specifies that buildings like Marina City should conduct safety drills at least once a year.

As far as I know, neither of the above legally required actions occurred at Marina City last year–or this year, for that matter.

So it’s probably also worth noting Section 13-78-110. That’s the section on enforcement. Let’s skip down to Sub-section (c):

“(c) Any violation of any provision of this Chapter shall subject the owner, tenant, or other responsible party to a penalty of not less than $500.00 and not greater than $10,000.00, for each separate and distinct offense. Each day that such violation continues shall be considered a separate and distinct offense.”

If the city were actually paying attention to any of this, those might turn out to be 80 very expensive polar bears…

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Michael Thaddeus Doyle

I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.

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5 replies

  1. Hi Mike,
    I wonder if they are still using my photography without my permission or payment? Please let me know if you see the friendly waving polar bear around any more. Thanks

  2. LOL. They did the same thing in the West Tower over the summer, too. I’m just glad to know y’all aren’t hogging our laundry room anymore!

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