A Mies van der Wow Renovation

List Price: $779,000
The Property: Sixty years ago, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe changed the way Chicagoans—and people around the world—lived with his paired apartment towers at 860-880 Lake Shore Drive. Although they came after his Promontory Apartments in Hyde Park, their steel-and-glass muscularity made them the icons…


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List Price: $779,000
The Property: Sixty years ago, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe changed the way Chicagoans—and people around the world—lived with his paired apartment towers at 860-880 Lake Shore Drive. Although they came after his Promontory Apartments in Hyde Park, their steel-and-glass muscularity made them the icons. Working for the developer Herb Greenwald, Mies turned his back on Chicago’s tradition of fussy, ornate brick and limestone apartment buildings and created something new, sleek, and modern.

Richard Savage and Lane Adams, a pair of Los Angeles designers with Chicago ties, bought a two-bedroom unit in the 880 building five years ago. “It was in worse condition than original,” says Andrea Tucker, the Koenig & Strey agent now representing it for them. They undertook a total renovation, keeping in mind throughout “what the Mies style would look like if he were here today,” she says.

The result is a Mies van der Wow. From the black and steel kitchen through the carpet patterned in a grid that suggests the buildings’ exterior and on into the master bath that picks up the travertine marble and glass elements of the building’s lobby, the space nicely complements the landmark architecture. As you will see in the video, even the bedroom doors honor Mies: they are opaque glass panels that slide into the wall to open the bedrooms into the main living era, a literal version of the architect’s idea that walls would appear to slide past one another.

Those sliding doors are just one of the ways that various rooms attach themselves to their neighbors. The smaller of the two bedrooms has a pair of barn-style doors that swing out to open it to the kitchen. And then in front of the kitchen is a bar space; the wall opening between them and a side doorway make it possible to use just one, the other, or both spaces, depending on the scale of the meal or entertaining that’s going on.

The centerpiece of the condo, though, is the main room, which combines living and dining modules in a long space, its floor-to-ceiling windows opening onto an expansive view of Navy Pier and Lake Michigan. The sellers furnished it with a combination of custom-made pieces and Mies tributes, such as a pair of Barcelona chairs. (The furnishings are available at a separate price from the condo.)

Savage and Lane also updated mechanicals, including installing laundry machines (many condo owners in the buildings still use common laundry rooms) and light and sound systems. Tucker has lived in the 860-880 buildings for two decades. They were “designed brilliantly,” she says, and this condo was “reincarnated to something that is more today.”

Price Points: Because the building is owned cooperatively, Cook County property records do not say what Savage and Lane paid for the condo. Tucker declined to say. She claims that the quality of the renovation sets the condo well above other units for sale in the building, such as this $420,000 listing; its flooring and kitchen are older, and it has a west view into the neighborhood instead of her listing’s lake view. Tucker also notes that a potential buyer will want a veteran’s guidance on the complicated process of buying there, because the building is both a co-op and governed by a trust. It’s doable, but takes care.

Listing Agent: Andrea Tucker of Koenig & Strey; 312-893-8101

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