Text description provided by the architects. Located in the South Loop neighborhood of downtown Chicago, 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 Chicago “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.
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.
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.