One of the most innovative buildings in Chicago are the 860-880
Lake Shore Drive Apartments, two glass and steel towers at Chicago's Gold Coast.
Today there doesn't seem to be anything radical about these
towers but when they were completed in 1951, they constrasted sharply with the
contemporary brick and concrete buildings. Not only was the steel structure
as ornament, for the first time apartments were built with glass walls, covering
the whole exterior.
Nonetheless they became an immediate commercial and critical success. The towers
were soon followed by many other glass and steel towers, such as the Lever
in New York
and the Inland
Mies van der Rohe had previously designed glass and steel
buildings, among them plans for a department store in Berlin
in 1928. In 1948 he made two versions of a project in Chicago, the 21 stories
'Promentory Apartments', one of them with a concrete and brick exterior, the
other one with a glass curtain. Eventually the concrete version was used, but
the glass and steel version was eventually applied on the Lake Shore Drive Apartments,
finally realising Mies van der Rohes decades old vision of modern high-rise
The 860-880 Lake Shore Drive Apartments were deemed Chicago
Landmarks in 1996, the first building by van der Rohe to receive that status.
You get the best view of the buildings from Michigan Lake's shore. Mind that
the apartments buildings are private and can thus not be visited.