List Price: $259,000
The Property: When the great Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed his now-iconic twin residential towers at 860-880 N. Lake Shore Drive, completed in 1951, the small and lightless kitchens and baths were in keeping with the era’s attitude, but they look low-rent to us now.

Vladimir Radutny, an architect, set out to remedy that when he and his wife, Yelena Spector, bought a one-bedroom condo at 880 in 2005. He removed a wall that shut the teensy kitchen off from the main living space, creating more of an open-plan effect, and he enlarged the single bathroom—both with added square footage and with light, glass, and mirrors that suggest openness.

The renovation also reworked a narrow foyer to create an office nook and used glass panels to integrate the bedroom and living room. Radutny, a principal in the firm Studio IDE, used a smart visual trick to further the feeling of openness: The slate on the floor throughout the condo, the tile on the kitchen countertops and backsplash, and even the decorative white panels on the main living room wall, while different in size, are all done in the same brick running-bond pattern for a sense of visual unity.

True to its Miesian roots, the condo has fine details to be discovered, including a color palette of white, light green, and pale brown whose inspiration Radutny took from the painted brick, trees, and other elements in the urban view that the west-facing condo takes in.

The changes add up to make the 789-square-foot condo feel quite spacious. Or it did for the two of them, at least, but now they have two children, and no amount of architectural cleverness can make up for their need for much more space.

Price Points: The pair of buildings is a co-op, not conventional condos. That’s largely a legal issue, but it also makes owners’ assessments seem unusually high: $916 a month. Radutny and Spector’s agent, Nancy Weber, points out that this figure includes property taxes, heat, and basic cable TV.

When comparing with another condo in the same price range, buyers and their agents need to fold those other expenses into the assessment in order to get an apples-to-apples look. Many don’t, Weber notes. In a preliminary search, she says, “They screen out anything over $600 [a month], so our listing doesn’t even come up.”
(Because the building is a co-op held in common ownership by all its residents, county property records do not include sale prices for individual units. Thus, I can’t determine what Radutny and Spector paid for the unit.)

Listing Agent:
Nancy Weber of @Properties, 773-220-4205;