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Here’s What $2 Million Gets You at 880 Lake Shore Drive

The half-floor unit, gut-renovated a few years ago, combines four original one-beds on the seventh floor.

860/880 Lake Shore Drive.
860/880 Lake Shore Drive.   Photo: Ian Spula

Price: $1.995 million

A 3,400-square-foot two-bed at Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe’s 880 Lake Shore Drive arrived on the market last week as the building’s most expensive listing—and the priciest since the famed “Stainless Steel Apartment” sold atop neighboring 860 Lake Shore Drive in two weeks in summer 2013. “It’s a really unusual opportunity to have a unit renovated to an amazing degree come on the market so soon after,” says Berkshire Hathaway co-listing agent Andrea Tucker, a longtime building resident.

Sellers Susan and Joe Credle (vacationing in Spain and unable to talk) purchased the unit in 2009, stripped it down to two pillars, and set about rebuilding the entire space. Joe, an architect with a practice centered in the southeast, directed the project with help from another architect more versed in modernism, Patrizio Fradiani. The redesign hinges on rich, earthen materials planted throughout the half-floor glass box in simple slab forms. Strikingly patterned marble and onyx along with walnut millwork form partitions that delineate rooms and hallways without walling off any spaces.

The seventh floor space claims the best orientation to the lake and city, with three exposures converging on the northeast corner. Even the full-on lake view keeps its excitement at night; the water goes dark but Navy Pier and the Drive explode with light and energy. Thirty-two aluminum-framed floor-to-ceiling windows—original Mies—make the most of this site. In the evening, when the unit becomes totally transparent to the outside world, motorized blinds seal it up while preserving the envelope’s uniformity. This is also the time to make the most of the 100 recessed lights, all new and only possible because of the 18-inch crawl space Mies planned for between floors—also a great sound dampener.

The Credles installed travertine floors to match those in the lobby and plaza, and the sharp lines formed by the intersection of off-white travertine, walnut, and flamboyant marble give the space its electricity. There are no doors here, only passageways with ingenious allowances for privacy. An accordion door gives the guest room separation from the living room, and collapses into a walnut partition that also hides closet space and utilities. The master suite on the far side of the unit closes off to the family room and foyer by another accordion door and a stealthy flip of a walnut panel.

Otherwise, free movement reigns supreme. A great little den is a cocoon-like chamber created by walnut partitions and pillars, and you can slide in and out of it at all four corners. The minimalist kitchen is open to the family room, and in that sense is very social. But its eat-in island with built-in wine cooler, hidden appliances, and shimmering white and metallic surfaces lend intimacy, too.

Unsurprisingly, no design decisions were informed by kids. “It’s an adult apartment in many ways,” says Tucker. “The whole building is.” People come here for the location and the architecture, and typically stay awhile. Modern amenities for the most part are whatever the city and lakefront have to offer. The reason for the Credles’ abrupt departure is that Susan took an ad job in New York. Formerly chief creative at Leo Burnett, credited with a number hit campaigns and national rebrandings, she is taking the global chief creative position at FCB Worldwide.

880 Lake Shore Drive was designed with all one-bedroom units. Combinations are the norm, but most take in two or three apartments. This home consists of four original units, re-imagined as a porous two-bed. It can be hard to find the right price for such a property, particularly with beautiful and brand new renovation, but brokers at a recent open house felt the pricing was fine. Co-op ownership shrinks the pool of buyers somewhat, although it’s hard to say how much. It certainly helps that sales have been plentiful and brisk over the last year and that 860/880 is known and loved the world over.

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