September 8, 2008

Doing the Architectural Rounds

I have featured several condominium towers that are so much more than boring blocks. The Regatta, River East Center, Skybridge, and many more are all examples of the great architecture the Chicago skyline has to offer. Today's residential towers, though they look similar, are all eye-catching pieces along the lakefront.

lake point towerAlong the way to Navy Pier, you can't help but notice Lake Point Tower. Completed in 1968, this 645-foot-tall (197 m) skyscraper has three rounded lobes, evenly spaced at 120-degree angles. The building's curves are designed so that residents cannot see into each other's windows. If you think the tower has a 'modern' look, you might be surprised to learn that the design was actually influenced by a plan drawn by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1922!

The developer constructed the tower taller than its original plan (at the architects' request), so that when it was complete, the building had the highest residences above ground in the world. (John Hancock Center surpassed this accomplishment a year later.) It is and always will be the only tall building east of Lake Shore Drive; a city ordinance prohibits construction of any new towers.

Finally, Lake Point Tower was once the home of Chicago Cubs player Sammy Sosa, and it was the temporary home for many actors while they were working in Chicago, including Tom Cruise, Dolly Parton, Anthony Quinn, and Tom Selleck.1

park tower condominiumsLake Point Tower's design influenced two other residential towers on the lakefront. A good friend of mine lives at Park Tower Condominiums, which stands at 513 feet (156 m) with 54 stories and was completed in 1973. Originally an apartment building, it is the second-tallest building in Chicago outside of the downtown area. Both Lake Point Tower and Park Tower were intended to be one of three identical skyscrapers, but in both cases, the other two structures never came to fruition. And while the two buildings do look similar, they are the results of two different sets of architectural firms (Schipporeit-Heinrich and Graham, Anderson, Probst & White for Lake Point Tower; Solomon, Cordwell, Buenz for Park Tower).2

harbor point towerThe youngest of the bunch is Harbor Point, located on the south end of Lake Shore Drive. In 1975, the 550-foot (168 m) tower was in fact the last skyscraper to be built east of the Drive, but when the road was rerouted, the building ended up on the west side of it.3 It was the project of the same team who designed Park Tower Condominiums and provides its residents with great views of Grant Park and Millennium Park.

All three of these residential towers feature shaded windows and three rounded arms that extend from a central axis. They all exemplify how condominium structures can be more than rectangular boxes of glass, steel, and concrete.

Photo credit: (c/o Flickr) afagen, Dr.Flemming

Lake Point Tower: 505 N Lake Shore Dr
Public trans: Bus # 2, 29, 65, 66, 124

Park Tower Condominiums: 5415 N Sheridan Rd
Public trans: Bus # 136, 147, 151 or Red Line train (Berwyn, Bryn Mawr)

Harbor Point Tower: 155 N Harbor Dr
Public trans: Bus # 60

1 Terranova, A. (2003). Skyscrapers. White Star.
2 (n.d.). Park Tower Condominiums, Chicago. Retrieved September 8, 2008, from Web site:
3 (n.d.). Harbor Point, Chicago. Retrieved September 8, 2008, from Web site:

One comment

1 comment to Doing the Architectural Rounds

  1. Jon - The DC Traveler
    September 11th, 2008 at 5:32 am

    I had a buddy living in Lake Point Tower in the late 1970s and always wanted to live there. The views are some of the best in Chicago.

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