235 Van Buren, Chicago

This residential tower turns a box into three-dimensional sculpture. The freeway-facing southern façade features staccato balconies protruding from a concrete frame, a response to the adjacent taller buildings and the highway’s energy. “It makes a kinetic billboard, a Mondrian-like façade that picks up the movement of traffic,” says Ralph Johnson, FAIA. The northern side, viewed from a shorter distance, is more intimate in scale, and its flush grid of inset balconies reflects the skeleton-expressed buildings of the Chicago school of architecture. To save on exterior wall costs, the units are deep, with rear bedrooms borrowing light from the loftlike living spaces.

“The building changes from different angles,” a judge said appreciatively. “It’s a big gesture, something Chicago is good at.”

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Project Credits

Principal in charge: Ralph Johnson, FAIA, Perkins+Will
General contractor: Bert Brandt, Lend Lease, Chicago
Developer: Colin Kihnke, CMK Development Corporation, Chicago
Landscape designer: Danielle Kowalewski, TERRA Engineering, Chicago
Unit size: 522 square feet to 2,272 square feet (penthouse)
Site size: 0.513 acre
Construction cost: Withheld
Sales price: $199,999 to $439,900
Units in project: 714
Photography: James Steinkamp

Product Details

Bathroom cabinets: Kentucky Cabinet Corporation kcccabinets.com
Bathroom fittings: Grohe grohe.com/us
Bathroom fixtures: Toto USA totousa.com; Jacuzzi jacuzzi.com
Cooktop: GE geappliances.com
Countertops: Granite Innovation gistone.com
Dishwasher: GE geappliances.com
Doors (unit entry doors): VT Industriesvtindustries.com
Exterior siding: Centriacentria.com
Flooring (carpet): Mannington mannington.com
Flooring (lobby tile): Royal Mosa mosa.nl
Flooring (mail room): Ecosurfaces ecosurfaces.com
Flooring (wood): Kultur
Garbage disposal: Falcon falconappliances.com
Green roof: GreenGrid greengridroofs.com
Kitchen cabinets: Kentucky Cabinet Corporation kcccabinets.com
Kitchen fittings: Grohe grohe.com/us
Kitchen fixtures: Elkay elkayusa.com
Oven/range: GE geappliances.com
Paints/stains/wall finishes: Sherwin-Williams sherwin-williams.com
Refrigerator: GE geappliances.com
Roofing: Firestone Building Products firestonebpco.com
Trellis; Greenscreen greenscreen.com
Windows: Traco traco.com; PPG ppg.com