One of America’s most influential architects called Chicago home for over 30 years, where he left his mark on the city’s skyline. Now, for the first time in over a decade, Mies van der Rohe’s personal residence in Streeterville is up for sale. Architecture critics found it ironic that van der Rohe did not live in a building of his own design; instead, he chose to live in the Campbell Apartments, an updated version of an Italianate Renaissance palace designed by Robert S. De Golyer in 1917. Although he briefly considered moving into his influential 860–880 Lake Shore Drive building a few blocks away, van der Rohe said in an interview that “he feared tenants would complain to him personally. He would rather look out the window of the two modernist towers than be stuck inside them.” While some may find Mies’ steel and glass structures minimal and austere, it’s hard to deny the impact his groundbreaking high-rise residential design had on our built environment.
Van der Rohe’s personal home has hit the market for $825,000. In 1938, the architect left Germany and lived in various hotel rooms before settling here a few years later. An elegant six-story building with two apartments per floor, there are beautiful classical details throughout the cozy space, pretty much the opposite of Mie’s own open-plan designs. This vintage but renovated mezzanine has two en-suite bedrooms, a large butler’s pantry, a possible third bedroom or office right off the kitchen, and in-unit laundry. It is located across the street from the Museum of Contemporary Art and just steps from Lake Michigan and all the hustle and bustle of the Magnificent Mile.
One of van der Rohe’s best-known projects was 860–880 North Lake Shore Drive, commissioned by developer Herbert Greenwald and constructed between 1949–51. This southwest corner unit was reinterpreted by an architect who transformed what was a three-bedroom into a light and airy two-bedroom residence. Miesian touches are everywhere from functional millwork to cork flooring, but the most dominant feature is a custom-designed travertine dining table. As part of a cooperative, owners pay a monthly assessment that includes property taxes, utilities, maintenance expenses and the property’s mortgage.
The success of 860–880 Lake Shore Drive led Mies to design the Esplanade Apartments. The building was built between 1953–56 and has a slimmer dark-tinted glass curtain wall compared to its neighbor to the south. Converted to apartments in 1979, former residents include van der Rohe’s grandson, Dirk Lohan, as well as other famous architects such as Stanley Tigerman and Brigitte Peterhans. In this particular listing, three individual units were combined into a large four-bedroom, three-bathroom home with two full walls of floor-to-ceiling windows. Imagine waking up from one of the bedrooms with endless lake views and natural light.
Lakeview’s Commonwealth Plaza was another investment by van der Rohe’s most important client, Herbert Greenwald, whose death in 1959 stopped the development of two more towers planned for the site. Located on the top floor, this one-bedroom, two-bathroom loft-style apartment has stunning views of the lake, downtown skyline, and nearby Lincoln Park. The all-amenity buildings come with $1,412 monthly HOA fees that cover an outdoor pool, tennis court, 24-hour security and heat/water/air conditioning. There is a long wait for parking, but this unit comes with one space in the attached garage (but you’re out of luck if you like a variety of pets – only cats are allowed in this complex).
Our latest property happens to be the last high-rise residential building created by van der Rohe in Chicago. The 30-story, 264-unit building dates back to 1963 with its $960 monthly HOA fees that cover services like heat and air conditioning, as well as a 24-hour security and on-site manager. Currently listed at $459,900, this southwest two bedroom, two bath unit has been recently renovated. Not only can residents enjoy an outdoor pool, but there are stunning views of Lincoln Park and Lake Michigan from the building’s rooftop.