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860–880 Lake Shore Drive is a twin pair of glass-and-steel apartment towers on N. Lake Shore Drive along Lake Michigan in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. They were designated as Chicago Landmarks on June 10, 1996.[1] They were added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 28, 1980. The 26 floor, 254 ft (82 m) tall towers were designed by the famous architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and dubbed the "Glass House" apartments. Construction was by the renowned Chicago real estate developer Herbert Greenwald, and the Sumner S. Sollitt Company.[2][3] The design principles first expressed in 860-880 Lake Shore Drive were copied extensively, and are now considered characteristic of the modern International Style.

The towers were not entirely admired at the time they were built, yet they went on to be the prototype for steel and glass skyscrapers worldwide. Initially, it was difficult to acquire financing for the project, turned down by lenders like Baird & Warner who considered the design scheme to be too extreme.[4] 860-880 Lake Shore Drive Apartments embody a Modernistic tone with their verticality, grids of steel and glass curtain walls (a hallmark of Mies’ skyscrapers), and complete lack of ornamentation. Since Mies was a master of minimalist composition, his principle was “less is more” as it is demonstrated in his self-proclaimed “skin and bones” architecture.[5]


Krueck & Sexton Architects of Chicago were commissioned to renovate the historical towers. Teaming up with them were the preservation architects, Harboe Architects along with forensic and structural analysis firm, Wiss Janney Elster. This team was directed to fix prior renovations done to the buildings. The preceding renovations took away from the historical accuracy of the towers. Architects were assigned to restore the distorted lighting scheme with original translucent glass, replace the deteriorating travertine plaza, which connects the two towers, and exchange for stones with more historical preciseness.[6]


File:Streeterville portion of Lake Shore Drive.jpg
  • The buildings were finished in 1951 and were featured in a 1957 article in Life Magazine on Mies.
  • In 1996 they became the first buildings designed by Mies van der Rohe to receive Chicago Landmark Status.
  • The glass towers have been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980.[7]
  • In June of 2005, the United States Postal Service included the towers in the commemorative stamp program, Masterworks of Modern Architecture, wherein they were listed as one of the “12 outstanding examples of modern buildings.”[8]

Figures and StatisticsEdit

  • The twin towers are 26 stories high.
  • The buildings are 46 feet apart.
  • The steel skeletal frames rest on a 21 foot grid and are uniform in their design.
  • The building was originally designed for 860 to contain 90 three bedroom apartments and 880 to hold 158 one bedroom apartments. Many of the units have been combined to enlarge living spaces.[9]


  1. Template:Cite web
  4. Handley, John. “Looking Forward-Is Chicago shifting into a modern mode?” Chicago Tribune 2 June 2002: Real Estate 1.
  5. “Mies and the Mastodon.” New Republic 6 Aug. 2001: 25-30.
  6. Template:Cite web
  7. Template:Cite web: Template:Cite web
  8. Template:Cite web
  9. Template:Cite web

External linksEdit

Template:Registered Historic Places Template:Chicago Template:Chicago Skyscrapers Template:Chicago Landmark skyscrapers Template:Chicago Landmark apartmentsde:860-880 Lake Shore Drive Apartments