A Helmut Jahn Valentine to Chicago’s Nighttime Lights

List Price: $1.575 million
The Property: You may recognize 600 North Fairbanks by its glassy curved corner or the cantilever on its north side that makes it appear the building was squeezed onto its site…


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List Price: $1.575 million
The Property: You may recognize 600 North Fairbanks by its glassy curved corner or the cantilever on its north side that makes it appear the building was squeezed onto its site.

There was no squeeze; that’s a design flourish by Helmut Jahn, the architect behind this and several other edgy Chicago buildings. They include the United Terminal at O’Hare, the Thompson Center in the Loop, some sharp dorms at IIT, as well as other renowned buildings all over the world.

On the ground level at 600 North Fairbanks, Jahn captured the energy of Chicago’s street life with a long, glassy lobby that seems to bring the sidewalks and street inside. You get a bit of his 21st-century refined industrial aesthetic, with expanses of glass, open space, and the silkiness of big concrete pillars.

And on the 40th floor’s southwest corner, you get all of downtown Chicago spread out at your feet. Wrapped in walls of windows 14 feet tall, this 1,850-square-foot condo has skyline views that made me salivate. So, as you will see in today’s video, I kept my back turned to it while pointing out other features of the home.

The kitchen is set beneath a soffit that brings the high ceiling down a few feet for more coziness. The kitchen is sleek, with dark Italian cabinets, quartz countertops and a stainless steel tile backsplash that picks up the steel mullions of the windows. The kitchen is great room–style, opening into the large living room area.

One bedroom faces south. It’s the smaller, second bedroom, but by no means secondary. It has a very large bath and laundry room, and its breathtaking view showcases major buildings on both sides of the Chicago River: Aqua, the NBC Tower, and Aon. We were there at night, but the seller, Glen Arenberg says that, during the day, you also see Shedd Aquarium and a lot of Lake Michigan.

The master bedroom faces west, its view stretching from Trump Tower all the way up Michigan Avenue to the Hancock and west nearly to Iowa (or so it seems at night). All the windows have electronic shades, but in the master there are also blackout drapes. Behind the bedroom wall is a dressing area with custom-fitted valet cabinetry; beyond that is the large master bath. That’s the second full bath; there’s also a powder room in the front hall, notable for its timber-patterned marble floor.

One flight up from this condo is the building’s club floor, with a workout room, a stainless steel swimming pool, and a large rooftop terrace facing south and east. On the parking floors there’s a covered dog run.

All that’s nice, but the major asset of this condo is the view. On a warm night, the 28-foot-long balcony that flanks the living room’s south wall would provide a cinematic sweep of city lights. Arenberg says that, when filming in Chicago in 2010, Transformers 3 used his balcony to get a panoramic view.

That’s understandable, given that the condo’s views take in virtually every downtown landmark’s night lights. One that isn’t lit up but is visible is the Wacker Drive building where Helmut Jahn has his top-floor studio. It’s easy to imagine the architect looking across the city at his 600 North Fairbanks with a deserved measure of pride.

Price Points: Francesca Rose, the listing agent, will put the condo on the market next week at $1.575 million. A condo on the same floor, with south views only and with about 300 square feet less, sold in 2011 for $1.34 million. “I believe [today’s condo] is attractively priced amongst upper-tier buildings, in an undeniably stronger market,” she told me in an email.

Listing Agent: Francesca Rose of Prudential Rubloff; 312-350-4900 or frose@rubloff.com

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