Category: Up to $150,000 in construction cost (category one)
Beautiful light and captivating views are the hallmarks of this renovated, 28th-floor apartment in a Mies van der Rohe-designed Chicago apartment building. Unlike the design team’s previous work in the building, this renovation removed all the unit’s plaster walls to create new vantage points and allow for visual illusions throughout.
To create an urban sanctuary for the couple that owns the apartment as a second home, the team probed the tension found between domestic and monumental scales. Replete with the comforts and needs of home, the space draws in the energy of the city and the rhythm of Chicago’s high-rise skyline. By situating the space as a link between both realms, the team’s strategies allow the owners to experience varying degrees of openness and enclosure.
“Good design has the power to see possibilities where few others can, alternate realities with the simplest of changes, and provide transformation with the most minimal interventions. The use of light, alternate vantage points, and visual illusions are particularly compelling in this renovation in place project.” - Jury comment
Throughout the space, reflectivity fosters connections between the architectural elements and the spaces they support. Shelves emerge and disappear behind delicate walls, while black floating lines help orient and organize the primary living spaces. Walls and built-ins present themselves as simple planes and surfaces that encompass the domestic space. Through material restraint and precise craft, this project provides tranquility and a distinct shift from the owners’ small-town primary residence.
“The project exhibits tremendous exactitude. The budget is quite low for such a pristine transformation. Again, the architect does not have to depend upon expensive finishes and materials to create memorable, important design.” - Jury comment
Because of its small budget, this project became a labor of love, requiring the team to serve as architect, owner’s representative, and occasional builder. Its precision demonstrates an immense sense of pride among all involved. The clients regularly report the joy they find in experiencing details in a new way, as well as the difficulty in leaving the comfort of the space to return to their primary residence.