Gold Coast International Style: Mid 60s

By the mid-1960s, the hour for Modernism was growing late. High-minded design ideals had largely (ahem) left the building when it came to multi-family residential development – even the city’s most expensive and luxurious tower paid little heed to exterior design.

1000 Lake Shore Plaza – Sidney H. Morris & Associates, for Chicago Highrise Corporation, 1963

1000 Lake Shore is a 55-story reinforced concrete building, a tall (590 feet) and slender tower with a low garage box attached to the back, fronting onto Oak Street. The building held 137 apartments, at 2 and 3 apartments per floor.


The garage and the building’s spandrels are sheathed in glossy olive green brick that’s close to, but not quite a match for, the cladding on the older 1000 Lake Shore Drive building next door, by the same architect and developer.

Left, 1000 Plaza; at right, the older, more textured bricks of 1000 LS Drive.

1000 Lake Shore Plaza, was a big deal in its day. Developed by Harold L. Perlman, the building was widely touted as the tallest reinforced concrete apartment building ever built, as well as Chicago’s most expensive and most luxurious residential address. The tower was billed by a book-sized sales brochure that cost some $5 a copy to produce and promised “the right to be pampered with luxuries not available even to Cleopatra”.

Ground was broken in January 1964 in a ceremony attended by Mayor Daley. On the building’s tall, narrow mechanical penthouse was a transmitter used by the Chicago Educational Television Association’s channel WTTW Channel 11, donated rent-free by the building’s owners. Drawn by the public generosity, Illinois governor Otto Kerner spoke at the December 28, 1964 topping out ceremony.

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Amenities included a 9-hole putting green on the garage roof, which should immediately make clear who the target demographic was. Other luxuries included a pool, sun decks, and a “fine restaurant”, commissary, and valet shop on the premises.

Even more than other Lake Shore towers, 1000 Plaza was hyped by its owners: “the most beautiful and spacious apartment in America”, for “sophisticated men of affairs”, aimed at “136 of Chicagoland’s finest families”, “rising majestically to become the tallest apartment building in the world.” The apartments were “designed to satisfy every fastidious desire”. Rents ran as high as $1,400 a month.


It wasn’t all talk, either: square footage ranging from 2000 to 3300 sf, they were quite large. It wasn’t all talk, either. 9 foot ceilings were provided throughout, as was central air conditioning. Maid service was available. The Otis elevators were listed as the fastest residential elevators ever built. Exterior windows were double paned with a 2″ insulating gap with venetian blinds inside. The water supply to the building was softened, “to assist M’Lady in cooking and laundering, and to improve hair and skin care!”

Left, 1000 Plaza; right, 1000 Lake Shore Drive


One item I haven’t been able to figure out is the faux double-height space seen above, on the 8th or 9th floor. It corresponds to the top of the garage and presumably contains access to the rooftop putting green space. The balcony space is doubled in height, but the interior floors seem to continue on as normal.

Sheridan-Hollywood Tower – 5650 Sheridan – Loewenberg & Loewenberg 1960

Clad in textured blue brick, the design ideas of this common apartment tower are hardly distinguishable from those of its high-priced cousin at Michigan & Oak Street. The design is an exposed concrete column structure, with glass and brick infill. The major point of interest is the handsome blue brick itself.


Opened in May 1961 as the 5650 Sheridan Road Apartments, the building featured a rooftop sun deck and solarium, still present today. Studio apartments started at $130 and 4-rooms at $165.



The Statesman – 5601 Sheridan, Milton Schwartz & Associates, 1963
The Statesman
Just around the corner geographically, but a world apart in design terms, is the Statesman building – one of the lakefront’s finest buildings, in my opinion. The building’s profile is wrapped in continuous horizontal bands, broken up into a zig-zag pattern by the projecting balconies. The balcony rails enhance the horizontal motif with their slender horizontal railings.


The ground floor is an odd departure, with a startling driveway and parking ramp that curves up over a ground floor garage entrance. Shoehorned into the tight space, amid descending columns, is a double height glass lobby. Capping off the semi-private spaces is a large full-wrap balcony that extends itself out to become a sun deck, sheltering additional parking spaces.


Above, the building holds 90 condominums, mostly 1- and 2-bedrooms. It was converted from apartments in 1979.

3470 Lake Shore Drive – Raggi & Schoenbrod Inc., 1966

A few miles south, 3470 LSD provides a contrast to show just how artfully the Statesman was handled. This building likewise uses its balconies to powerful effect in creating horizontal banding on its eastern face – but lets the architectural design completely drop on the equally-visible north and south faces.
A powerful composition is left incomplete.


3740 Lake Shore is a 27-story condominium building, opened in May 1967 with one, two and three-bedroom units ranging from $27,000 to $70,000. Amenities include 30-foot long balconies, a 3-story garage in the building’s base, and a pool, sauna and “sky lounge” on the tower’s roof. Larger units include sunken living rooms, and the building provided an interior decorator to help residents finish out their new homes.


Like so many other Lake Shore skyscrapers, it rose on the site of a Victorian mansion, this one erected by Robert D. Lay, president of the Chicago Athletic Association. Mr. Lay died in 1940; his house became an apartment building, then was wrecked in 1966.



Gold Coast International Style – Early 50s

There was an all-too-brief period after World War II when Modernism really flourished and flowered in America, from the end of the war into the early 1950s. Unfortunately, it was not a time of significant construction, so buildings from the era are all too rare. Those that were built, however, are often knockouts. Take for example:

3410 N. Lake Shore Drive – Louis R. Solomon & Associates w/ Josef Guivaner, 1950

A stunning and startling composition, easy to miss due to the incongruous white paint scheme it has been saddled with in later years. A bold C-shaped rim of limestone gives the building the appearance of being set within an incomplete picture frame.

3410 north lake shore drive 1951 ad

When new, the building’s visual impact was far greater; the tiles between the raised sections of windows on the front facade were black, and the bricks in the recessed areas were red. At some point, both were painted white, greatly diminishing the intended contrasts of horizontal and vertical elements.

3410 north lake shore drive historic 02a
Image from the collection of the University of Michigan, donated by Edward Olencki


3440 Lake Shore was built with 220 rental apartments, ranging from studio units (rents starting at $37.50 per month) to two bedrooms up to $182.50 a month. A second-floor parking garage holds 117 cars.

Architectural Record found the building worthy of notice, publishing a short article in October 1951, and small wonder – this is one of a very few Chicago apartment towers to truly aspire to high Modernism, rather than a localized pastiche.


After holding out for two decades while its neighbors went condo, the building was converted to condominiums in the late 1990s.

3440 Lake Shore Drive Apartments – L.R. Solomon & Associates, 1954
A sibling to its slightly-older neighbor, 3440 directly abuts 3410. Construction began in late 1954 and continued into 1956. Though at a casual glance, one might mistake the two for a single building, 3440 is a far less adventurous building than its neighbor, symmetrical and conventional in its form and massing. It is clad primarily in glass and white brick.

3440 included full air conditioning when built, as well as “Cloric built-in ovens and stainless steel sinks with Formic atops. Magnetic door G-E Refrigerators…Bathrooms by Crane – distinctive colored fixtures accented with matching Ceramic tile. Handsomely mirrored with new Lavinettes.” “So advanced it could not have been built before 1955.” It was converted to condominiums around 1981.

3180 Lake Shore Drive at Belmont – Shaw, Metz & Dolio, 1953

Begun in 1953, opened by 1955, this building at the corner of Lake Shore and Belmont is the most stridently 50s structure on the lakefront. Geometric details animate its base on all sides, and its color scheme can’t be mistaken for any other decade.




3180 N. Lake Shore was converted to condominiums in 1975.

1000 Lake Shore Drive – Sidney H. Morris & Associates, 1953

Begun in April 1953 and opened in mid-1954 after a record-breaking construction pace, 1000 Lake Shore contained 183 apartments when new. 185 cars could park in the garage at the base, which is sheathed in glossy green brick.

The target market was well-to-do, as 6 months’ advance rent and a 5-year lease was required to move in. Tenants included the Owings from Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, and a president of Borg-Warner. The building cost $4.5 million to construct.


The building reacts intelligently to its site; the south-facing windows are protected from summer sun by continuous concrete shades, which also poke out to provide sheltering roofs for the balconies.) On the north side, it’s solid glass.


1000 N. Lake Shore has, relatively speaking, a good side and a bad side – and the good side is largely covered up by its looming neighbor. The building did not include central air conditioning, “for reasons of cost”, resulting in a grid of pockmarking AC units sticking out of the facade.


The original windows and mullions are still in place, and are showing their age. The variety of individual window treatments, the aging frames, and the air conditioner units give the north facade a particularly unkempt look today – though it’s nothing a smart rehab couldn’t fix.

The building took some heat in its own time, too; it was among those cited by a 1955 Architectural Forum article that criticized “an incredible rash of imitations and vulgarizations” of Mies van der Rohe’s 1946 Lake Shore Apartments; 1000 Lake Shore was cited in particular for its balconies being too small.


1000 Lake Shore Drive went up on the site of the McCormick mansion, designed by Solon S. Beman. One of the city’s most famous mansions, the McCormick Mansion was a center of high society at the turn of the century and a holdout in Victorian formality until the end. The death of its matron, Mrs. Edith Rockefeller McCormick (brother of John D. Rockefeller Jr.), was page one news in 1932. After being foreclosed and sold at auction, the house became the private Bateman School for a number of years, until owner Metropolitan Life Insurance booted the school out and sold it to a consortium, which demolished the mansion in 1953. Construction on the high rise began immediately.

Numerous articles and letters lament the passing of the old mansions of Lake Shore Drive – but quite a few feature articles also celebrated the new elegance of living in these clean, spacious, airy and modern apartments, which offered spectacular views of the lake and the city, day and night. The Living section in the Tribune featured quite a few of the apartments’ interior decorations, and the vividly described colors make one ache for color photographs: “a turquoise sofa is dramatized against a navy wall” in one; in another, “splashes of briliant color, beginning with the floor carpeting of broad off-white and lilac horizontal stripes.”

The building also includes a stylized sculpture by California sculptor Bernard Rosenthal, representing the African Gold Coast, unveiled on the day of the building’s topping out.

Gold Coast International Style – Twin Towers

Continuing an exploration of the Midcentury Modern apartment towers along Chicago’s lakefront.

Lake View Towers – 4550 North Clarendon Avenue – 1970

A scheme used several times along the lakefront involves a pair of similar or identical high-rise towers, with a low-lying lobby connecting them. The lobby often opens onto a drop-off driveway, usually has a doorman or security worker, and typically serves as a point of architectural elaboration. Some contain large-scale artwork.

Hollywood Towers North – 5701 North Sheridan – Solomon, Cordwell and Associates, 1961

This type of planning keeps a lot of open air on the site, allowing tall towers to retain a view, and fits with the Midcentury trend toward “towers in the park” – a fitting scheme so close to the lake. These buildings made spectacular lakefront views available to thousands of families.

3950 N. Lake Shore Drive – Shaw, Metz & Dolio, 1955

Builders John J. Mack and Raymond Sher broke ground in March 1955 for what was then Chicago’s largest apartment building, with 23 floors, 662 apartments and a projected cost of $10 million. The building is precisely contemporary with downtown’s Prudential, the first tall building to go up downtown since the Depression.

Features included a 400 parking space garage, 10 high speed elevators, and gas range kitchens. Occupancy began in June 1956 and by December the buildings were more than 2/3 filled; it was heavily favored by young families, with rents running from $140 to $235 per month. A 37-person cleaning staff kept the building running, vacuuming corridor carpets daily, constantly cleaning the 6,000 windows, and hauling out two tons of garbage daily.

It’s only clearly visible from the air, but the structure is not symmetrical – the southern tower is offset from the other two, pushed slightly east.


Vacant at the time of construction, the land had 20 years prior been home to the mansion of Countess Sarah Victoria Cavicchia.


I must here humbly submit a correction: when I briefly wrote about this building last year, I misread an article about 1550 Lake Shore as being about this building instead. 3950 did not, to the best of my knowledge, have the rooftop dining and party space that 1550 has. Those wonderful curved penthouses look like they’re purely for mechanicals, and the tower rooftops don’t appear to have any resident access at all.

3600 Lake Shore Drive at Addison – Shaw Metz & Dolio, Architects, 1959
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Twin towers with a vertical emphasis, connected at the base by a common lobby with a landscaped roof. 3600 North Lake Shore is all about rectilinear forms – square tiles, square windows, rectangles of brick outlined by rectangles of stainless steel. Naturally, its two biggest decorative elements are curves – a mesh of steel hoops over the lobby, and the curved front of the porte cochere.



The land was previously home to Issac Miller Hamilton, president of the Federal Life Insurance Company.

Construction on the towers began in April 1959; the buildings opened in June 1960. Its 640 apartments made it the second-largest apartment house in the city. The building, like 3550 just to the south, was a Mack & Sher project. A hair salon named Fred’s Coiffures operated in the lobby, along with a small gift shop.


The building’s relatively small lake-facing windows apparently generated some controversy and discussion among locals; the smaller windows serve bathrooms, while the larger windows in the center are for the bedrooms. True lake views are intended to be from the south and north facing facades, which are generously glazed. Alfred Shaw explained the decision as a result of his own east-facing windows which required him to draw the blinds every morning.

Apparently geared towards middle-class professionals, the building and its residents made little noise in the headlines during and after its construction.


Shaw Metz & Dolio, the lakefront’s most prolific Midcentury architectural firm, formed in 1947 when architect Alfred Shaw withdrew from a previous partnership and allied with structural engineer Carl Metz and electrical & mechanical engineer John Dolio. That same year the firm landed the job of finishing out the interior of the Baha’i House of Worship on the north shore. They firm had a flurry of business in the 1950s as they worked on several large housing projects, downtown buildings, and entered a competition to design St. Peter’s Church downtown (their entry did not win.) John Dolio would eventually split off into his own engineering firm, which continued to work with Shaw & Metz.

Much of their work was for developers Mack and Sher, whose portfolio of nearly a dozen major lakefront buildings was run by Lake ShoreManagement Company.



3550 Lake Shore Drive – Loewenberg & Loewenberg, 1961
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Just across Addison Street to the south, another building with the same concept – two massive slab towers conjoined by a low-lying lobby – opened in 1962.


Lake Shore Management Company billed it as a “distinctive twin tower architectural masterpiece…providing fabulous views of lake and city”, with studio, one and two bedroom apartments.

3550 Lake Shore Drive

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More on this building’s wonderful lobby sculpture here.

Imperial Towers – 4250 N. Marine Drive – L.R. Solomon and J.D. Cordwell & Associates, 1960

Developed by Albert R. Robin, the 29-story Imperial Towers contain 432 apartments per tower. Construction began in 1961; occupancy started in August 1962. It was one of many Chicago projects insured by a section of the national housing act.


The building was marketed as luxury for the budget-conscious, and was intended to attract a mix of older, retired residents and younger families – the owners went so far as to tout a social ambition of giving seniors the choice of “mingling with the younger generations” when and if they chose.

Amenities included an “Olympic” sized rooftop swimming pool over the garage (25 yards, actually, which isn’t Olympic sized at all), and several small stores in the lobby including a coffee shop, a beauty salon, Imperial Drug, and the first of several Jewel Pantry stores, high-end groceries in luxury apartment buildings with a large selection of prepared foods, exclusively open to building residents.

The building has a 250 car garage, accessed through a ramp in the courtyard that went right under the lobby. A less-touted feature, detailed in a New York Times article, was that the garage could be “converted into a fall-out shelter” with room for the building’s population and hundreds more, equipped with emergency generators, special ventilation, heat, water, light and food. Always reassuring in the Cold War age!

The building converted to condominiums in 1977.


Imperial Towers features a Japanese decorative theme, with what were touted as Japanese gardens in the courtyards as well as on the lobby roof. Like many before them, the developers pulled no punches in describing their building, labeling it “America’s most fabulous building” in a 1963 ad.



Gold Coast International Style: White Brick Midcentury

“We feel it takes the drabness away.”

– Architect Alfred Shaw on his white brick buildings, 1965

New York City has, in recent years, been coming to grips with its Midcentury heritage of boxy white-brick high rise apartment buildings, built in the 1950s and 1960s to feed the growing demand for luxury and middle-class apartments. These buildings’ cladding was a break from the darker colors used in the past, representing a vision of a cleaner, more modern lifestyle. The movement is described in a couple of New York Times articles:


When a friend pointed them out to me, my first thought was, “Huh, I guess it’s a New York thing. I never saw buildings like this here.”

Well, guess what I saw not a day later as I biked along the lakefront trail?




777 North Michigan Avenue – Shaw Metz & Associates, 1964

909 North Michigan Avenue – Shaw Metz & Associates, 1962

While not a precise stylistic match to the blocky Manhattan buildings (quite a few of the Chicago examples tend toward New Formalism as much as pure International Style), Chicago does indeed have several buildings representing the same ethos, from exactly the same time period.

These buildings share common elements beyond their cladding. All were built with clean modern designs that practically demand a simplified, modern and efficient life. The designs were matched by a host of modern features like central air, electric kitchens, attached indoor parking garages, even security cameras in the lobby that residents could view from their apartments. Most offered luxury amenities like maid service, 24 hour doormen, and rooftop pools and party decks. Circa 1962, these buildings offered the ultimate in urbane luxury living.

1550 N. Lake Shore Drive at North Avenue – Shaw, Metz & Dolio, 1957

Developed by local builders Mack & Sher, this 33-story tower was planned to include “every conceivable luxury”, including sizable family rooms. Its distinctive top includes a rooftop dining and party space available to the residents. 180 cars can park in the garage. It was topped out in 1959.

The address continued to appear in society pages with some frequency in the years following its completion.



This building rose on the site of the 1910 Richard T. Crane mansion; Mr. Crane died in 1931 and his widow passed away in 1949. The Gothic mansion was razed in 1955, originally for a parking lot.


3150 N. Lake Shore Drive, Shaw Metz & Dolio, 1961

Opened in August 1963, 3150 Lake Shore was described in Lake Shore Management’s glowing prose as “the Crown Jewel of the lakefront!” The 38 story building has 6 elevators, serving only 2 apartments per floor.

The building exhibits a number of curiosities; not least of which is the marked similarity of its massing to its sibling at 1550. Both share a large rooftop mechanical penthouse, artfully designed to cap off the building, rather than left as an unconsidered collection of boxes atop the structure, as has happened so many times elsewhere.

The design also makes the curious choice to have powerful vertical elements on the broad faces, but only horizontal banding on the narrow ends.


The garage is housed in a wonderously pure box of white brick.


3150 LSD was previously the site of a 1919 mansion built by Frank D. Stout, a “capitalist” who made his fortunes in lumber and went on to become director of various banking and railroad enterprises. Mr. Stout died in 1927; his widow passed away a decade later. The mansion became home to the contentious Kenner Hospital, a 65-bed unit, fined in 1948 for operating without a license and repeatedly in the news for its various problems. The Stout mansion was razed in 1959 to make way for the new skyscraper.


3900 N. Lake Shore Drive at Sheridan – Loewenberg & Loewenberg, 1958
3900 Lake Shore broke ground in September 1958, was topped out in November 1959, and opened in 1960. Developed and managed by I. Richard Cobrin, who also did 2970 N. Lake Shore, the building originally contained 240 luxury apartments.

Its construction drew the newspapers’ attention thanks to a couple of high-tech innovations that were used. The first was the French-built Benoto caisson digger machine used by Lake States Engineering in preparing the foundations. The “spider-like” machine that could sink caissons down 83 feet to bedrock in about 8 hours, then “walk” away to the next spot when finished; it was also notably quiet. Also of note was an advanced plaster-pumping technique used to send plaster up to the upper floors, where it could be sprayed or hand-troweled onto the walls.


The building was designed by Loewenberg & Loewenberg Architects, a firm founded by Lithuanian-born brothers I.S. Loewenberg and Col. Max L. Loewenberg, and later joined by Max’s son James Loewenberg. James, now in his 70s, remains an active developer in Chicago today.



3900 N. Lake Shore was renovated and converted to condominiums in 1977.

1300 Lake Shore Drive – Ezra Gordon, Jack M. Levin & Associates, 1963
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Built by developer Ralph W. Applegate (who soon moved into the building, with his adult son living across the hall) 1300 N. Lake Shore was part of the thriving luxury apartment boom of the early 1960s. The 40-story tower strove, along with several of its neighbors up and down the shore, to attract the city’s most well-to-do tenants – doctors and lawyers, executive chefs, CEOs and bank chairmen. Construction was underway by mid-1963. A number of society-notable names were soon among the building’s tenants; rents could run as high as $1800 a month. The 40th floor contained a large ball room originally known as the 1300 Club.

Crime and fatality followed glamour and riches; one apartment was robbed of $100,000 of jewels in 1964, and another saw the wife of a mobster die in a bedroom fire in 1966. The fire filled the whole building with smoke and forced residents to evacuate. Another resident, apparently despondent over his failing health, leaped from a 14th story balcony later that year.

The asymetrical bits along the roofline are a tri-level penthouse, added during the 1976 conversion of the building to condominiums. It was designed and occupied by Jack Levin, one of the original architects.


It’s easy to dismiss 1300 as the quintessential ugly 60s building. Indeed, from a distance, it seems little more than a rote assembly of its parts. Yet if you look closely, you can see what the architects were striving for – elements of geometry appear from the building’s spandrels and bay windows, overlapping planes advancing and receding. Even the balcony railings get in on the act, though it’s not clear if they are the originals or a more recent addition. The effect does not carry over onto the building as a whole – but to say there is no design here is to speak without looking.


Curiously, Mies Van Der Roes proposed an unbuilt project for the same site in 1956.

Lakefront towers

With the weather having taken its inevitable late-fall turn for the crappy, I’d like to skip up and down the lakefront a bit in photographs, and remember both warmer, bluer and greener times, and also some of the lovely highrises that one glimpses while running Lake Shore Drive.


One of the first and most obvious lessons here is the evolution of scale. Just contrast the historicist towers – generally from the 1920s and earlier – with their post-war successors. The size of the latter tends to be hugely inflated.





And yes, the post-war buildings often are a lot uglier. The Modernist ethos of minimalist design soon transmogrified into an ethos of minimal designing. On the flip side, they usually have more generous windows – more light coming in, better views looking out.

But not all pre-war high rises are delicate little flowers! Some are massive chunks of masonry.
3750 N. Lake Shore Drive / 1540 N. LaSalle


The lakefront, being Chicago’s greatest amenity, has long attracted its greatest wealth. Apartment houses were dressed up to the nines, as if for a night on the town.



The Belden-Stratford Apartments, a U-shaped Beaux Arts courtyard building with a Second Empire mansard roofline, is one of my favorites.
1922 – Fridstein & Company


Some of the MidCentury buildings are interesting in their own right.
3470 N. Lakeshore Drive – Raggi & Schoenbrod, Inc., 1967

This one, at Sheridan and Bryn Mawr, is one of the finest towers on the lakefront. Its clean horizontal banding make it an outstanding example of International style architecture.
“The Statesman” – 5601 N. Sheridan – Milton Schwartz & Associates, architects, 1964


And this pair of conjoined towers may look like an overmassed monstrosity, but take a longer look. There’s a lovely offset grid of windows, and those two mechanical penthouses on top, with their curved brick walls, just make the whole thing come together. The penthouses cap off wide brick bays that act like visual wrapping paper – a pair of bows tying the whole package together.
3950 N. Lake Shore Drive – Shaw, Metz & Dolio, 1957, originally with rooftop dining. Built on the site of 1910 Richard T. Crane mansion.


And whatever you think of it, you surely must admit that it’s far better than the dreadful concrete skeleton that stands behind it.

The towers tend to get shorter as one moves further north. Here’s a couple of my favorite Rogers Park high rises, long past Lake Shore Drive’s end.



The Farcroft – 1337 W. Fargo Avenue – Charles Wheeler Nicol



Learn a bit more about this last one, with its delightful bosses, here.

The Cubic Zirconium Coast

The northern reaches of Chicago’s lakefront offer relatively affordable lakeside living, via a series of massive highrises that went up in the 1960s along Sheridan Road. One particularly big cluster stands south of Loyola University, where Sheridan meets Granville.



Some of them have their merits. Others… less so.


But at least two are of some interest.

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6166 N. Sheridan – the Granville Tower – derives interest from its remarkable zigzag balconies. Modernistic bay windows protrude from the west face, as though the building’s framework couldn’t quite contain all the activity within. Emporis lists the architect as Seymour S. Goldstein (1920-2006 – the same guy who designed the Second City building and incorporated the salvaged terra cotta from Louis Sullivan’s demolished Garrick Theater into it), and notes that all the condos within are two-level units.





Across the street, the El Lago condominiums (6157 N. Sheridan) present a serene, handsomely composed facade to the street… even if the building’s broad face is just another sea of undifferentiated brick and glass.



Down at the entrance, a couple of slick little tile mosaics provide some liveliness and color, along with a handsome font for the building’s name.



Emporis gives the name of Irving M. Karlin Associates as the architect, and dates the building to 1959. Mr. Karlin lived from 1902 to 1993.

3550 Lake Shore Drive

If you drive down LSD enough at night, you’ve seen this striking MidCentury lobby.

3550 Lake Shore Drive

It joins two massive 1962 apartment towers at 3550 Lake Shore Drive. Though the folded plate roof is modestly interesting, it wouldn’t be enough to make the lobby a real show stopper. What does the trick is the abstract sculpture running the length of the lobby.

3550 Lake Shore Drive

Clearly visible from the rushing highway, the work is by prolific sculptor Abbott Pattison. Its abstract shapes transform what would otherwise be a plain glass and stone lobby into a quintessentially 1960s mode of expression, and a highlight to be watched for as one flies down LSD.

3550 Lake Shore Drive

3550 Lake Shore Drive

A stormy day by the sea

Lakefront path indeed

This may not impress you if you live near the ocean.

But this Lake Michigan, and one thing I’ve learned in my eight years of living by Lake Michigan, is that Lake Michigan doesn’t do this.

Lake Michigan does not rise up and send waves crashing over the sea wall and onto the bike path. Lake Michigan does not churn up waves that rise up higher than your head. Lake Michigan is not violent or dangerous!


Living by the placid shores of Lake Michigan, it’s easy to forget that it is a lake in name only; in actuality it’s a vast inland sea, large enough to affect local weather patterns, and large enough to do whatever the heck it feels like. Newcomers like me have only seen it at the low water levels of recent years, but in the early 1980s waves were actually crossing Lakeshore Drive and crashing against apartment buildings.


1325 N. Dearborn

When you have a ten mile commute across solid city, there’s a lot of ways you can go. Daily I discover different routes, new places I’ve never seen before or always wanted to find again.

One such trip home this week turned up the Old Town stretch of Dearborn Street. Together with its Rivernorth stretch, Dearborn is a cornucopia of Richardsonian Romanesque, which I intend to cover as soon as I can get the right photos. Meanwhile, here’s this little gem, on the leafy 1300 block.

1325 N. Dearborn

The handy-dandy AIA Guide identifies it as the Lucius B. Mantonya Flats, from 1887, by Curd H. Gottig. Lucius! Curd!

1325 N. Dearborn

Moorish arches, with the little bit of return curve at the bottom, give it an exotic flair. Stained glass and leaded glass adorn the many windows.

1325 N. Dearborn

It’s a diamond among rubies in this tony and historic section of town.