235 Van Buren / Perkins + Will

© James Steinkamp, Steinkamp Photography

Located in the South Loop neighborhood of downtown , 235 Van Buren is a residential tower designed to work as a transition between the more commercial developments to the north and the residential and mixed-use developments to the south. It is also a response to two site conditions. The first condition, to the north, is the densely infilled context of the “Loop.” The second condition, to the south, is an open space created by a freeway and traffic interchange which also contains a small park.

Drawings and photographs of 235 Van Buren following the break.

Architects: Perkins + Will
Location: 235 Van Buren Chicago, Illinois,
Design Principal: Ralph Johnson
Managing Principal: Bridget Lesniak
Project Designer: Bryan Schabel
Project Architects: Robert Neper and Greg Tamborino
Project Team: Ricardo Escutia, Connie Perry, Alissa Piere, Tara Rejniak, Chris Wolf
Structural Engineer: Tylk Gustafson Reckers Wilson Andrews, LLC
MEP Engineer: Cosentini Associates, Inc.
Landscape Architect: Terra Engineering, Ltd.
General Contractor: Bovis Lend Lease
Client: CMK Development Corporation
Project Area: 740,000 sqf
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: James Steinkamp, Steinkamp Photography

© James Steinkamp, Steinkamp Photography

The articulation of the two masses is distinctly different to respond to these two conditions. The southern glass façade and random balconies provide a large-scale backdrop to the open space created by a major traffic interchange. A ribbon of concrete frames the glass wall, undulating to define the penthouse units and providing a large-scale gesture to the expressway as well as the taller buildings to the north. The random balconies express the individuality of the units within, as well as provide a kinetic image from the freeway.

© James Steinkamp, Steinkamp Photography

The northern façade is a flush grid of rectangular openings with inset balconies. This gesture relates the building back to the historic Chicago Loop and the frame-expressed architecture of the “Chicago School.”


The overall mass of the building is broken down by dividing the tower into two slabs. This concept reduces the scale of the building, provides an urban space at the street corner which relates to the existing plaza on the opposite corner and pronounces the entry to the residences. Making the two slabs different heights also provides relief at the top of the building, enlivening it among the taller office towers in the vicinity.

typical floor plan

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "235 Van Buren / Perkins + Will" 17 Dec 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=96331>
  • http://on.fb.me/holcim-awards Holcim Awards

    Well first of all the balconies are not random…they repeat every second floor!

    Otherwise, it is a nice design that addresses the context in a unique way. It would be great to hear about any sustainable features that were incorporated into the design.


  • Als

    Very original in my eye. Genius

  • archi-troll

    Looks like that $1Billion house in Mumbai. Good job.

  • 6000miles

    cute, but check the floor plan and take in those 1-bedroom apartments with interior bedrooms: facade candy for the developer crowd.

  • liveload

    I’m not sure about those single room apartments. looks like the bedrooms are open to the kitchen counter and the back of the fridge. good if you like eating in your bedroom, or doing dishes from your bed. would have to see photos of that space to know if it works.

    smart exterior elevations, though.

  • http://uptodayarch.blogspot.com up_today_arch

    The elevation composition is amazing!… clear and like paper model…

  • arhitekt

    why the deep unit plan? bedrooms have no “real” daylight access. developer driven plan but at least attempts made with the exterior, though somewhat derivative

  • http://www.danielarev.com daniel

    who cares how this building looks like with this kind of floor layout?. it really looks like all that matters here is how the faceds look like. the layout seems to be imposed on the building’s contour. all of the apartments layouts make no sense, especially the ones on the corners with the 2 mile corridors leading from the entrance threw the bedrooms and finally the living area. and those windowless bed rooms. what amazes me is that it has actually been built!!.

    • nobodyelse

      actually the apartments in the corners, despite having those long corridors, are the the best ones since they have no windowless/interior bedrooms.
      If I could pick one apartment for myself I would pick one of the two apartments in the corners facing south.
      Sunlight and ventilation.
      And top floors for the view, please. ;-)

  • http://numbdrum.com ygogolak

    I’m always confused as to why people think bedrooms have to have windows to the outside. Do you sit in your bedroom all day? I would rather have windows out of the living spaces.

    • ygogolak

      So you would rather not have windows in the areas where you spend most of your time awake? That makes sense. How often do you look out the window when your sleeping?

      Also, the plan shows one bedroom apartments. If you had kids I would suggest you live somewhere else.