Our clients, a couple in their 70’s, assembled two adjacent apartments in a multi-use condominium complex designed by KPF at the end of the “magnificent mile” in Chicago. Connecting the two two-bedroom units was a challenge primarily due to the arbitrary disposition of plumbing risers and mechanical systems and a non-modular structural system. For example, to attach the Master Bath to the Master Bedroom caused us to circumnavigate one of two immovable HVAC/Laundry areas, which we accomplished through a series of corridors whose intersections and termini became opportunities for the display of art and antiques.
Programmatically, one of our charges was to design a 3,000 s.f. museum-like modern interior that would blend a collection of old and not so old master drawings, and French Art Deco furniture with new furniture designed in that mode and veneered in macassar ebony. Another was to maximize storage throughout particularly in the Dining Room where a large china collection was to be housed. A third was to prioritize views and maximize ceiling heights — understandable, given an eight foot six inch slab to slab. This dimension, of course, shrank due to a raised limestone floor elevated to cover pipe bends and to accept the prerequisite acoustical material, and a lowered plaster ceiling concealing conduit, sprinkler runs and miniature can lights.
To counteract the potential oppressiveness of low ceilings in an open plan, we compartmentalized the ceilings, subdividing areas by means of “mechanical” beams in the Dining Room. These clad “beams” rest on cabinetry “columns” thus solving both visual and storage issues. All details were of diminutive scale and all reductive materials were revealed with a 3/8” stainless steel angle set into quirk miters at the corners. 3/8” stainless panels case deep doorways and 3” stainless sheeting clads the base. The delicate detailing balances the precise proportioning of the rooms. A classical order prevails created by localized symmetries, pochéd passageways and ensuite rooms within a contemporary aesthetic. This partnership thereby produces a counterpoint between present and past thus enriching sensory experience.
The husband is retired from his profession of banking and finance. The couple travel extensively collecting art and antiques, are affiliated with several museums and are involved in charities associated with AIDS and Alzheimer’s.