Lake Point Tower

505 N Lake Shore Dr #200 Chicago

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> Lake Point Tower is the only residential building in the city located east of Lake Shore Drive.

> Its construction defied precedent set by Daniel Burnham's 1909 Plan of Chicago that envisioned no use of lakefront land for private enterprise.

> The developer found a loophole in the law and drove the pilings of the building down into the lake waters underneath the land.

> This would mean that the building was technically “not built on lakefront property” but instead built into the lake itself. Obviously, the law has since been modified.

German Design Influence

Lake Point Tower was influenced by architectural pioneer Mies van der Rohe’s 1922 design for a skyscraper in Berlin. Although the Berlin building was never constructed, Chicago architects Schipporeit and Heinrich took van der Rohe's idea and converted it into a residential skyscraper. Schipporeit and Heinrich's design is taller than the Berlin design, and it also includes tints on the glass. The first design, while captivating, had a fatal flaw. What you see now, a three-armed design creates a Y or U shaped building. Well, that was once a four-armed design. It was changed so that the outer walls now curve to prevent residents from seeing into their neighbor's flats. There are other differences between the two designs. The Chicago building is taller and has tints on the glass exterior.

A Pioneer of Modern Living

Lake Point Towers didn't just push the boundaries of design, but it played a part in ushering in a new idea of modern living. It was among the first residential high-rises to have all electric appliances and have its own 2.5-acre park. It was the first example of a high-rise "Park in the City" concept in a major city.

With premium unblocked views of Lake Michigan, it's no surprise this makes the AIA's list of 150 most loved buildings. In fact, many architects have lived here in addition to a handful of celebrities, including Tom Cruise, Halle Barry, and Scottie Pippen.

Finding a Loophole

The building navigated a tricky city bureaucracy. The developer of Lake Point Tower found a loophole in the 1910 Chicago city Plan of 1909 that prohibited any developed on the promontories along the lake. They drove the building's pilings into the lake waters. On paper, the building was “not built on lakefront property” but instead built into the lake itself.

Cover image source: Sam Howzit, CC BY 2.0.

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