Lake Point Tower Completed

Lake Point Tower is a high-rise residential building located on a promontory of the Lake Michigan lakefront in downtown Chicago, just north of the Chicago River at 505 North Lake Shore Drive.

It is located in the Streeterville neighborhood of the Near North Side community area. It rises somewhat apart from the urban cluster of downtown Chicago in a composition that sets off and punctuates the skyline. The building is also the only skyscraper in downtown Chicago east of Lake Shore Drive.

Lake Point Tower was inspired by Mies van der Rohe’s 1922 design for a glass-curtained skyscraper in Berlin. Schipporeit and Heinrich took van der Rohe's unbuilt office building concept and converted it to a residential building. Lake Point Tower is much taller than van der Rohe’s original project, more regular in form, and its exterior glass curtain wall is tinted; however, the building owes much of its innovative design to the van der Rohe original - and because of the design's origins, many in Chicago still consider Lake Point Tower to be a Mies van der Rohe building, albeit executed by two of his proteges.

Because of its height and the fact that Lake Point Tower sits on the shore of Lake Michigan, the residential skyscraper had to be designed to withstand the high winds. At the center of the building is a triangular core that is 59 feet across in length, which contains nine elevators and three stairwells. This core also holds all of the vertical weight of the building. Because of this, the perimeter pillars on the facade do not need to be large as they only have to bear the vertical loads.

Radiating from the core are three arms, which form an asymmetrical Y-shaped floor plan. The original plan for the building was to be a four-armed design but was later changed to a three-armed design (120° apart) with the outer walls strategically curved to ensure that the various residents could not see into the other condominiums. The façade of the building is a curtain of bronze-tinted glass framed by gold-anodized aluminum, which reflects the sunlight off of Lake Michigan and looks golden.

The building was designed by John Heinrich and George Schipporeit, who were both students of Mies van der Rohe. The design for Lake Point Tower was partially derived from a sketch Mies van der Rohe made in 1921.

The original proposal made by Schipporeit and Heinrich consisted of a building with 4 wings, but was ultimately replaced by a design which included only 3 wings.The advantages of the latter were a shorter construction time and a 120 degree angle between the wings, so that the apartments would not face each other. The design also offered less surface area exposed to direct wind loads in comparison to the conventional rectangular designs.

Lake Point Tower was completed in 1968 and was at the time the highest apartment building in the world, reaching a height of 196m/645ft. The plan to construct two other similarly shaped towers on both sides were never realised. The Tower still stands on its own near Lake Michigan's shore, a bit distant from the downtown cluster of high-rises. This makes it possible to view the bronze curtain walls of Lake Point Tower from all sides.