860-880 Lake Shore Drive Apartments Built

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. 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 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. The design principles first expressed 1921 in the Friedrichstrasse Skyscraper competition in Berlin and build thirty years later in 860-880 Lake Shore Drive were copied extensively and are now considered characteristic of the modern International Style as well as essential for the development of modern High-tech architecture.

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. 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.

This building like many of his Chicago high-rise structures causes controversy in the pure minimalist community due to its mullions. Mies is hailed as the father of "less is more" however 860-880 Lake Shore Drive is covered in non-functional I-beam mullions. Mies explains how the mullions do not violate his less is more philosophy in an 1960 interview "To me structure is something like logic. It is the best way to do things and express them". The mullions on his buildings reflect the inner structure and therefore give truth to the aesthetic of the building. The idea of truth in architecture aligns with the aesthetic and principals of the international style as taught at the Bauhaus.