Krueck & Sexton Architects Restores 860-880 Lake Shore Drive

• March 3, 2010

Architects Krueck & Sexton has completed restoring 860-880 Lake Shore Drive which was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1951. Widely recognized as one of the 20th Century’s most iconic residential projects, 860-880 Lake Shore Drive consists of two 26-story rectangular condominium buildings surrounded by an irregular travertine plaza. The steel and glass towers are connected by a covered walkway.

Over the years, the problems included corrosion of the building’s exposed steel frame, failure of the lobby glazing system and extensive cracking and discoloration of the travertine plaza. The restoration included recoating the steel frame facade and cleaning the original aluminum windows. In addition, new sandblasted glass in the lobby recreated the soft, velvety glow of the original. Finally, the plaza was rebuilt by replacing the original travertine slabs and recreating the original plaza lighting scheme.

One of the things I’ve learned from restoring these buildings is that, for Mies, there was never a final answer… He was always interested in what else could happen, what the other design possibilities might be. What’s fascinating is to watch his thinking evolve over the course of a project. At 860-880, for example, the early sketches show a scalloped exterior with large bay windows. This eventually changes to what is there today. There’s also a continual process of refinement in terms of the massing, the enclosures at the bottom and the way the plazas are laid out.

Krueck

860 880 Lake Shore Drive Mies van der Rohe Krueck Sexton plusMOOD 4 595x743 Krueck & Sexton Architects Restores 860 880 Lake Shore Drive

860-880 Lake Shore Drive Restoration by Krueck & Sexton Architects

+ Description courtesy of Chicago Design Bureau

Krueck & Sexton Restores Mies Classic

860-880 Lake Shore Drive redefined highrise living for post-war generation

Architects Krueck & Sexton recently completed restoring one of legendary Modernist Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s most celebrated commissions: 860-880 Lake Shore Drive in downtown Chicago.

860-880, which was built between 1949 and 1951, consists of two 26-story, exposed steel and glass apartment towers set at right angles on an irregular travertine plaza.

Based on ideas and theories Mies had been perfecting since his earliest days as an independent architect in 1920s Berlin, the buildings redefined highrise living for the post-war generation.

They were the most radical buildings of their time… They’re light and delicate and surprisingly sexy. They also prove that – contrary to what many people believe — it’s not so easy to design a glass box.

Ron Krueck

860-880, which is both a local and national landmark, is located just north of Chicago’s Loop central business district and steps away from Lake Michigan.

Many architects and critics believe 860-880 is the closest Mies ever came to achieving his goal of less is more “skin and bones” architecture.

According to the American Institute of Architects’ “Guide to Chicago,” “No other building(s) by Mies had as immediate or strong an impact on his American contemporaries, and the influence of these structures was to pervade much of modern architecture.”

860 880 Lake Shore Drive Mies van der Rohe Krueck Sexton plusMOOD 5 595x476 Krueck & Sexton Architects Restores 860 880 Lake Shore Drive

860-880 Lake Shore Drive Restoration by Krueck & Sexton Architects

There’s not a lot to them… They’re mainly just steel and glass used in the most efficient way possible. By contrast, buildings today often have layer upon layer of materials.

Mark Sexton

In addition to more than half a century of normal wear and tear, the buildings had endured several restoration attempts over the years. The problems included corrosion of the buildings’ exposed steel frame, failure of the lobby glazing system and extensive cracking and discoloration of the travertine plaza.

860 880 Lake Shore Drive Mies van der Rohe Krueck Sexton plusMOOD 8 595x476 Krueck & Sexton Architects Restores 860 880 Lake Shore Drive

860-880 Lake Shore Drive Restoration by Krueck & Sexton Architects

There were also aesthetic issues. The original frosted glass in the lobby had been replaced in the early 1980s by a laminate system with a translucent interlayer that created an historically inaccurate aquamarine tint.

The restoration included recoating the steel frame facade and cleaning the original aluminum windows. In addition, new sandblasted glass in the lobby recreated the soft, velvety glow of the original.

Finally, the plaza was rebuilt, a process that included replacing the original travertine slabs, designing a new drainage system and recreating the original plaza lighting scheme.

Designed to take advantage of a 2008 tax credit, the project began in the summer of 2007 and was completed in December. The cost was $9 million.

860-880 is the third and largest Mies commission Krueck &  Sexton, a firm more noted for its original work, has completed in recent years.

The other two – all are in Chicago – are Crown Hall on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology and the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.

One of the things I’ve learned from restoring these buildings is that, for Mies, there was never a final answer… He was always interested in what else could happen, what the other design possibilities might be. What’s fascinating is to watch his thinking evolve over the course of a project. At 860-880, for example, the early sketches show a scalloped exterior with large bay windows. This eventually changes to what is there today. There’s also a continual process of refinement in terms of the massing, the enclosures at the bottom and the way the plazas are laid out.

Krueck

+ About Krueck & Sexton Architects

Krueck & Sexton Architects was founded by architects Ronald Krueck and Mark Sexton in 1991 and is a multi-disciplinary firm with a varied portfolio. In addition to its innovative Mid-Century restoration and renovation practice, it has completed numerous award-winning civic, commercial and residential projects. The firm’s Spertus Institute Building on Michigan Avenue in Chicago received three AIA awards in 2008, including a Distinguished Building Award. The firm currently is working on a 25 acre expansion of Grant Park in downtown Chicago, the highlight of which will be a new home – also designed by Krueck & Sexton – for the Chicago Children’s Museum.

+ Project credits / data

Project: 860-880 Lake Shore Drive

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Date:

Original Completion Date: 1951
Restoration Completion Date: 2009

Client / Owner:

860 Lake Shore Drive Trust
880 North Lake Shore Drive
Chicago IL 60611
Marc Boxerman, Board Member & President

Building Management :

860 Lake Shore Drive Trust
880 North Lake Shore Drive
Chicago IL 60611
Kayla Ehrlich, Building Manager

Owner’s Representative:

Cotter Consulting, Inc.
100 South Wacker Drive
Suite 920
Chicago IL 60604
David Krc, Senior Project Manager

Architect & Prime Consultant:

Krueck & Sexton
221 West Erie Street
Chicago IL 60610
Mark Sexton, Principal in Charge; Ron Krueck, Design Principal; Tim Tracey, Project Architect

Preservation Architect:

Harboe Architects, P.C.
140 S. Dearborn Street
Suite 205
Chicago IL 60603
Gunny Harboe, Principal in Charge; Douglas Gilbert, Preservation Project Architect

Forensic Analysis, Structural Engineering

Wiss Janney Elstner Associates, Inc.
330 Pfingsten Road
Northbrook IL. 60062
Arne Johnson, Principal in Charge & Structural Engineer; Michael Scheffler, PE, Senior Consultant; Ken Itle, Forensic Project Architect

Wiss Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.
10 South LaSalle Street
Suite 2600
Chicago IL 60603
Paul Gaudette, Concrete Quality Control; Joshua Freedland, Paint Forensics; Jason Aspin, Roofing

Lighting Consultant:

Schuler Shook
750 North Orleans
Suite 400
Chicago IL 60610
Jim Baney, IALD, LC

Chicago Landmark Review:

City of Chicago
Department of Planning and Development
Landmarks Division
33 North LaSalle Street
Suite 1600
Chicago IL 60602
Dijana Cuvalo, Director of Permit Review

General Contractor:

Bulley & Andrews, LLC
1755 West Armitage Ave
Chicago IL 60622
Paul Hellermann, President
Bruce Wance, Sr. Project Manager

Painting Subcontractor:

National Decorating Service, Inc.
2210 Camden Court
Oak Brook IL 60523

Travertine Supplier / Fabricator:

Mariotti Carlo & Figli S.p.A.
Via Tiburtina 287
00011 Tivoli Terme (Roma) – Italy
Primo Mariotti; Fabrizo Mariotti

Travertine Testing:

Corestone S.r.l
Via Delle Ciocche, 889
55047 Seravezza
Italy
Marc Heinlein

Travertine Installer:

Cleveland Marble Mosaic Company
4595 Hinckley Industrial Parkway
Cleveland OH 44109
Robert Zavagno Jr., President; Daniel Ulmer, Project Manager

Waterproofing Sub-Contractor:

Allied Waterproofing, Inc.
4205 Lawndale Ave.,
Lyons IL 60534-1131
Bill Leonhard

Landscape Contractor:

Landscape Maintenance Kinsella Landscape, Inc.
13821 South Harrison Avenue
Blue Island IL 60406
George Kinsella

Material Testing:

STS
750 Corporate Woods Parkway
Vernon Hills, Illinois 60061
Raul Dilig

Photographer: William Zbaren

+ All images and drawings courtesy of Chicago Design Bureau

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Category: Architecture, Residential

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