Launch Slideshow

Chicago Condos

Design quality resumes its place in the residential development formula.

Chicago Condos

Design quality resumes its place in the residential development formula.

  • http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpD021%2Etmp_tcm20-173890.jpg

    true

    600

    Google Earth

    1. 156 West Superior The Miller/Hull Partnership 2. 550 North St. Clair Brininstool + Lynch, Architects 3. The Legacy at Millennium Park Solomon Cordwell Buenz 4. 30 West Oak Booth/Hansen Associates 5. Aqua Studio/Gang/Architects 6. 600 North Fairbanks Murphy/Jahn Architects 7. Fordham Spire Santiago Calatrava SA 8. Culver House Dirk Denison Architects

  • http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpD037%2Etmp_tcm20-173897.jpg

    true

    600

    156 West Superior, The Miller/Hull Partnership, Seattle, Wash. Miller/Hull's first building in Chicago is the only one in this portfolio to utilize a steel-frame structure. Commercial glazing systems and metal-slat screens enhance the industrial character of a design that the architects characterize as an “irreducible living machine.” Associated Architect: Studio Dwell Architects - Primary Contractor: Skender Construction Co. - Developer: Ranquist Development - Financing: Withheld by owner - Construction Cost: Withheld by owner - Status: Completed July 2006 - Total Dwelling Units: 11; One-Bedroom: 3; Two-Bedroom: 7; Three-Bedroom: 1 - Number of Floors: 9 - Gross SF: 26,000 square feet - Structure: Steel frame and CMU - Amenities: Arclinea kitchens, private decks, media rooms

  • http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpD029%2Etmp_tcm20-173988.jpg

    true

    600

    550 North St. Clair, Brininstool + Lynch, Architects. This structure sports a contemporary aesthetic that's the specialty of architect David Brininstool and his partner, Brad Lynch. Most apartment plans use interior glazing and eschew traditional hung doors for sliding panels to create more open, modern layouts—a quality that the building's marketers are deliberately highlighting. Primary Contractor: Linn-Mathes Inc. - Developer: Sutherland Pearsall Development Corp. - Financing: Private - Construction Cost: $42 million - Status: Due for completion summer 2007 - Total Dwelling Units: 112; Studio: 18; One-Bedroom: 26; Two-Bedroom: 36; Three-Bedroom: 24; Other: 8 penthouses, each with 3 or more bedrooms - Number of Floors: 26 - Total Height: 296 feet - Gross SF: 224,000 square feet - Structure: Post-tension, cast-in-place concrete - Amenities: Indoor pool, fitness center, garden

  • http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpD048%2Etmp_tcm20-173904.jpg

    true

    600

    The Legacy at Millennium Park, Solomon Cordwell Buenz. The Legacy at Millennium Park will have extraordinary views of the park, but it's a block away—so the “at” designation seems to be a bit of the marketer's artful ploy. Rooftop gardens are situated atop four existing structures, which will house parking, retail, and School of the Art Institute facilities. Primary Contractor: Walsh Construction - Developer: Joint Venture: Mesa Development and Walsh Investors - Financing: La Salle Bank - Construction Cost: $225 million - Status: Due for completion late summer 2009 - Total Dwelling Units: 355; One-Bedroom: 27; Two-Bedroom: 199; Three-Bedroom: 112; Four-Bedroom: 17 - Number of Floors: 72 - Gross SF: 1,050,000 square feet (589,000 square feet net sellable residential) - Structure: Concrete structure with curtain wall exterior cladding - Amenities: Balconies, resident parking, lap pool, gardens

  • http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpD058%2Etmp_tcm20-173911.jpg

    true

    600

    Solomon Cordwell Buenz

    The Legacy at Millennium Park, Solomon Cordwell Buenz

  • http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpD068%2Etmp_tcm20-173918.jpg

    true

    600

    30 West Oak, Booth/Hansen Associates. Square buildings are no longer de rigueur. Booth split 30 West Oak into two opposing volumes: a slightly canted concrete structure to the north and a gracefully curving glass lozenge to the south. Large living spaces occupy the glazed volume, while smaller, more-private rooms fill the concrete portion. Primary Contractor: Smithfield Construction Group - Developer: Smithfield Properties - Financing: Withheld by owner - Construction Cost: Withheld by owner - Status: Completed October 2006 - Total Dwelling Units: 46; One-Bedroom: 4; Two-Bedroom: 12; Three-Bedroom: 23; Four-Bedroom: 6 - Number of Floors: 24 - Gross SF: 169,000 square feet - Structure: Concrete - Amenities: Two rooftop terraces, exercise room

  • http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpD078%2Etmp_tcm20-173925.jpg

    true

    600

    30 West Oak, Booth/Hansen Associates.

  • http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpD088%2Etmp_tcm20-173932.jpg

    true

    600

    Aqua, Studio/Gang/Architects. While cast-in-place concrete has long been the norm for high-rise apartment construction in Chicago, no one since Bertrand Goldberg (with his iconic Marina City) has explored the sculptural possibilities inherent in the material. Jeanne Gang's Aqua promises a new take on the box, using computer and GPS technologies to form more than 80 floors of undulating slabs. Associated Architect: Loewenberg Associates - Primary Contractor: McHugh Construction - Developer: Magellan Development Group - Financing: TBD - Construction Cost: $300 million - Status: Due for completion summer 2008 - Total Dwelling Units: Hotel: 210; Condo: 234; Studio: 12; One-Bedroom: 46; Two-Bedroom: 44; Three-Bedroom: 44; Three-Bedroom Duplex: 4; Penthouse: 2; Rental: 476; Convertible: 30; One-Bedroom + Den: 36; Two-Bedroom + Den: 18; Three-Bedroom + Den: 4 - Number of Floors: 81- Gross SF: 1,750,000 square feet - Structure: Reinforced, cast-in-place concrete - Amenities: Indoor and outdoor pools, library, coffee bar, roof gardens

  • http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpD098%2Etmp_tcm20-173939.jpg

    true

    600

    600 North Fairbanks, Murphy/Jahn Architects. Helmut Jahn's first commercially developed residential structure in Chicago is being marketed closely with his globetrotting persona; promotional materials for 600 North Fairbanks use “Helmut Jahn Architect” rather than the corporately correct “Murphy/Jahn.” Primary Contractor: Bovis Lend Lease - Developer: Schatz Development - Financing: Fremont Investment & Loan - Construction: Cost Withheld by owner - Status: Due for completion March 2008 - Total Dwelling Units: 227; One-Bedroom: 118; Two-Bedroom: 77; Three-Bedroom: 32 - Number of Floors: 41 - Gross SF: 452,277 square feet - Structure: Reinforced concrete - Amenities: Balconies, swimming pool, media/party room, landscaped roof deck

  • http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpD022%2Etmp_tcm20-173946.jpg

    true

    600

    Fordham Spire, Santiago Calatrava SA. The 1,450-foot-tall Sears Tower capped Chicago's skyline in 1974. Since then, many have proposed taller, but none have succeeded. Local developer Chris Carley announced Santiago Calatrava's design for a 2,000-foot tower in July 2005, but Carley sold the site to an Irish developer a year later. The new owner has indicated interest in building the Spanish architect's design, but many technical details remain undeveloped, and the gradual slowing of the city's real estate market suggests that Chicago's legacy of unbuilt tall towers may gain another entry. Associate Architect: DeStefano+Partners - Primary Contractor: Undetermined - Developer: Design produced for The Fordham Co. Ownership of site transferred to Shelbourne Development Ltd. - Financing: Shelbourne Group; Anglo Irish Bank - Construction Cost: $1.2 billion - Status: Proposed (predicted spring 2007–2010) - Units: 300 (+ 150 hotel rooms) - Number of Floors: 124 - Gross SF: Undetermined - Structure: Undetermined - Amenities: Undetermined

  • http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpD023%2Etmp_tcm20-173953.jpg

    true

    600

    Culver House, Dirk Denison Architects. East Elevation: The east façade of Culver House faces Washington Square, one of Chicago's oldest parks and the center of a city landmark district. Architect and developer Dirk Denison (see Q&A) weaves green terraces and trees throughout the glassy façades of his six-story Culver House to enhance each apartment's living spaces and to represent the ecologically sensitive nature of his project's conception. Denison is selling the apartments with design services that customize each unit to the individual buyer's needs. Primary Contractor: Undetermined - Developer: Culver House - Financing: Withheld by owner - Construction Cost: Withheld by owner - Status: Undetermined - Expected Opening: Undetermined - Total Units: 8; One-Bedroom: 1; Two-Bedroom: 3; Three-Bedroom: 3; Four-Bedroom: 1- Number of Floors: 6- Gross SF: 27,100 square feet - Structure: Concrete - Amenities: Undetermined

  • http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpD024%2Etmp_tcm20-173960.jpg

    true

    600

    Culver House, Dirk Denison Architects. Roof Garden: Denison designed the building's perimeter as an interlocking sequence of roof gardens, terraces, and sunrooms.

  • http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpD025%2Etmp_tcm20-173967.jpg

    true

    600

    Culver House, Dirk Denison Architects. Interior: The interior layouts and finishes derive from Denison's extensive experience as an architect of high-end houses.

  • http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpD026%2Etmp_tcm20-173974.jpg

    true

    600

    Culver House, Dirk Denison Architects. Buffer Zones: Sunrooms serve as a thermal barrier between apartment interiors and Chicago's extreme climate.

  • http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpD027%2Etmp_tcm20-173981.jpg

    true

    600

    Culver House, Dirk Denison Architects. Buffer Zones: Sunrooms serve as a thermal barrier between apartment interiors and Chicago's extreme climate.

It's hip to live modern in Chicago, judging from the designs of many new condominium towers proposed or under construction in the city. It wasn't always this way. Chicago earned its reputation as the birthplace of modern architecture more for large-scale commercial projects than for the occasional residential standout such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's 860-880 Lake Shore Drive and Bertrand Goldberg's Marina City. Most postwar apartment buildings in Chicago are banal and uninspired exercises in modernism, with little to distinguish them from the city's notorious public housing projects.

Such was the state of affairs until the current residential building boom started to transform the skyline. When the office market tanked in the early 1990s and it became obvious that a business-only downtown would never become a 24/7 activity zone, the city's planning department encouraged residential building in the Loop and the area immediately to the north. The earliest residential high-rises completed under this strategy were hefty and undistinguished. Generally constructed with exposed concrete frames, these new features on the skyline caused considerable consternation within the local design community.

That frustration eventually echoed through city hall. In February 2002, Mayor Richard M. Daley proclaimed (via a banner headline in the daily Sun-Times), “No More Ugly Buildings.” Fortunately, developers took the hint, and some architecture firms raised their aspirations to meet the new design-based demand.

Another fortuitous development has been the city's rigorous new energy code and the availability of a new green building technology: innovative thermal glazing that makes glass-sheathed high-rises more energy efficient than their concrete-clad predecessors.

Not every new residential building in Chicago meets the high standards demonstrated by this portfolio, and the uncertain housing market may affect the trend toward design quality. Crain's Chicago Business reports that local investor-buyers are exhibiting the same skittishness as in other big-city markets. While the average price of a Chicago condo rose by 7 percent in the second quarter of 2006, overall sales were down 21 percent as compared with second quarter 2005. If reports continue to predict the end of the housing boom, at least the Chicago market is experiencing an upswing, aesthetically speaking.