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Photography: Bob Coscarelli
Styling: Barri Leiner Grant
How much modernism can you squeeze into a standard, 25-by-125-foot city lot? Quite a bit, if you’re Brock and Liz Haldeman. Their Lincoln Park house, completed in 2011, is as cleanly minimalist as it gets—and as bright and open.
The front and back are entirely glass, for one thing. And the brick-and-limestone sides have large frosted glass windows that obscure views of the houses next door while letting in plenty of diffused natural light. “I’m surprised I don’t see that more often, just as a basic principle” in urban architecture, says Brock, who, like his wife, is a graphic designer. (They are the founders and creative directors of Pivot Design.) “Why would you want to see your neighbor’s siding two-and-a-half feet away?”
Two primary architects were involved in this project. Mark Peters of Studio Dwell designed the shell; Patrizio Fradiani of Studio F worked on the interior. Central to the overall effect is a dramatic staircase, sided with glass panels, that connects all four floors. Anchored to limestone columns on either side, it has cantilevered landings that float out over a stairwell atrium; a delicate Bocci chandelier hangs there, from the tippy top all the way down. “Its longest cable is 40 feet long,” Brock says.
Vertical space is also important in the two-story living room, where the oversized arc of a floor lamp extends out over crisply geometric furnishings. Beyond are a sleek white kitchen, a dining area, and a family room whose spaces flow easily into one another and out to a terrace through folding glass doors.
Bedrooms and a playroom for the Haldemans’ sons, three and six years old, are on the second floor; a master suite with a green-roof terrace off the bath occupies the third. Guest quarters and a wine cellar are on the lowest level, where the stairwell atrium ends in a dry “reflecting pool” of smooth pebbles with limestone stepping stones.
At one end of the rooftop, solar panels help provide energy for hot water and radiant floor heat throughout the house. At the other, an all-weather stainless steel kitchen with a dumbwaiter connecting it to the main kitchen makes alfresco entertaining a breeze. The garage has a rooftop terrace, too, accessed via a spiral staircase.
How well does modern minimalism play out, practically speaking, in a family with two active little boys and a dog? “It’s totally workable,” Brock says. “The same things that happen anywhere happen here—the kids zip around on their scooters, the dog chases around and tears up the floor.”
For all the restrained aesthetics of the house, it has surprising warmth and a highly appealing, almost spa-like feel. “There’s a misconception that if you have a modern home it’s going to be very cold and sterile,” Brock says. “This is not that, at all. This is a great, peaceful place to come home to.”