Text description provided by the architects. Contemporaine is a 28-unit condominium building located on a corner lot in the River North area of urban Chicago. The building consists of an eleven-story residential tower and a four-story retail and parking base. The sculptural quality of the tower and the articulation of its functional parts work to mediate the building to the varying scales of the surrounding context.
The mass of the tower is broken down by a series of slots scored down the façade with small cantilevered balconies. The east façade undulates to further break the mass as well as to provide more opportunities for views of the city skyline. Two concrete shear walls and the plane of the roof frame the design and provide a distinctive profile from Wells Street.
To bring the base to a pedestrian scale the structure of the parking garage is exposed with floor-to-ceiling glass between the floor slabs, similar to the tower above. On the north side of the building the dynamic expression of the sloped ramps leading to the upper parking levels adds relief and movement to the otherwise rectilinear structure.
At the entry corner the erosion of the mass, the projection of the cantilevered balconies above, and a 45-foot column, all reinforce the urban energy of the Contemporaine’s surroundings.
A narrow slot separates the base and tower, allowing necessary transfers of the building systems as the floor programs change from residential to parking. This detail also provides an aesthetic dialogue between the two elements and allows for a reading of the building as a series of combined parts of varying scales.
The top of the tower is sculpted to offer large terraces for the penthouse units and a gesture to the surrounding skyscrapers.
Typical floors at Contemporaine provide up to four condominiums with two and three bedrooms plans that can be combined to allow for larger units. Each unit has at least one private outdoor balcony. Unit sizes range from approximately 950 square feet to 2700 square feet.
The condos offer open floor plans with large expanses of floor-to-ceiling glass allowing natural light and dynamic views of the downtown skyline. Four penthouses on the top floors feature living spaces with 20 to 32-foot glass walls to further capture the daylight and the views.
The building stands out from most of its contemporaries in the city. Through simple manipulations of modern materials—the sculpted mass, dynamic resident entry, and the texture of the window mullions—the building makes a strong statement on the cityscape.