Chicago’s 90-year-old Merchandise Mart still stands strong

Chicago’s Merchandise Mart building. Photo: Daniel Schwen, CC BY-SA 4.0

Built nearly a century ago, Chicago’s Merchandise Mart is a testament to the long-lasting durability of concrete buildings—and of projects completed by Ceco Concrete, parent company of Tribco Construction Services. In 1930, Ceco completed most of the floor forming for the building. This was a huge undertaking, as the floor area was 4 million square feet, thus requiring 4 million cubic yards of concrete to complete.

Spanning two city blocks, The Mart was once considered the world’s largest building—and it still holds the title of world’s largest commercial building and largest wholesale design center. The building is made of structural steel columns and beams encased with reinforced concrete pan joist slab construction. The foundation is supported by 458 reinforced concrete caissons, sunk between 80 to 100 feet below ground. The structure received LEED Gold certification in 2013 and 2018. For more on the project, and how the building still meets today’s needs, read Build with Strength’s case study.

Concrete structures are resilient and long-lasting. It’s been 90 years since The Mart was first constructed, and it currently serves as one of Chicago’s top international business locations, averaging 30,000 visitors a day before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in March 2020. We are proud that our family of companies’ long history is tied to this magnificent building!

Watch this video featuring historic images from Ceco Concrete’s early days and landmark projects from that era—including the iconic Merchandise Mart.