This tower is one of my personal favorites from the Windy City, and is part of my continued exploration into the modeling curtain wall facades.
Recommended Reading: Edward Windhorst and Kevin Harrington, Lake Point Tower: A Design History, Chicago Architecture Foundation 2009
Lake Point Tower is a 645ft 70 story residential tower in Chicago completed in 1968. At the time of its completion it was the tallest residential building in the world. The design is characterized by a tri-lobed curving bronze glass façade. The building is constructed upon a long, 30ft tall podium which houses amenities such a fitness center and an indoor pool for the residents. A “living roof” park, designed by noted landscape architect Alfred Caldwell, was placed on top of the podium offering trees, a lake, and outdoor swimming pool. The 700 car parking garage is located below this park, effectively hiding it from view of the residences.
Lake Point Tower has the distinction of being one of the few residential buildings ever situated east of Lake Shore Drive in downtown Chicago. Owing to the later rerouting of portions of the roadway, it is now the only one left and will likely remain so due to strict zoning regulations. The building occupies a prime peninsular spot near the entrance to Navy Pier and the clever winged design offers views of Lake Michigan from every residence. Designed as an apartment building with 900 units, the tower was converted over to luxury condominiums in the late 80’s. Due to the reinforced concrete structural design centered about a triangular structural core with exterior columns, there are very few interior columns within the living spaces, allowing the interior walls to be easily reconfigured. Many of the original units have been combined into larger residences.
The building was created by architects John Heinrich and George Schipporeit. It is often incorrectly said to have been modeled after Mies van der Rohe’s 1922 “Glass Skyscraper” study. While the design certainly applies Miesian principles and Schipporeit had work early is his career under Mies, Heinrech later wrote in a letter to Architectural Forum: (You) state the architect’s claim the tower was inspired by an early unbuilt scheme of their teacher Mies van der Rohe. We never made this claim… The development and design for Lake Point Tower was not the result of an arbitrary approach for appearance sake, but was the result of thoroughly analyzing the structural, mechanical, and economic problems associated with the development and design of a speculative building.
The original scheme called for a 1200 unit four-winged (90 degree opposing) design, with linear car ramps bringing residents directly to the lobby on the podium roof level. When funding could not be procured for this larger design, one wing was removed resulting in the eventually constructed (120 degree) tri-winged layout. A resulting bonus was the highly swept façade now provided nearly unobstructed views and made it difficult to see directly into any of the neighboring wings, enhancing privacy. The car ramp idea was also scrapped. Instead lobby access was moved directly inside the podium. A large oculus opens the lobby’s circular curbside to light and a dramatic view of the tower rising above.
A picture I took of the actual building. It would have been nice to have included the banded pixilated appearance of various window shades, but my model isn’t structured with enough “floors” (only about half of what’s in the real tower) to make such an effect realistic.
This is absolutely superb! I grew up in the Chicago area and know this building very well. I remember driving through the tight bend in LSD right near the building whenever we went into Chicago from the North Shore.
Looks like Chicago IS big enough for the both of us :) Love the history behind this building! It certainly is reminiscent of Mies' Glass Skyscraper proposal. Would love to see progress shots or pictures of the inside. Excellent job!