Chicago's zen superstar, the 14th-floor penthouse atop Ralph Johnson's modernist masterpiece Contemporaine, is back on the market. Pedestrians at Grand and Wells in River North can spy what looks like pine trees peeking over the balcony railing of the building's top floor; that's because the unit comes with a private, 2,800-square-foot Japanese Garden, complete with a small waterfall and a shallow pond. The owners brought in Portland, OR-based Japanese garden specialist Hoichi Kurisu, who shipped in trained pines from the West Coast, and used a crane to lift them from the street to their current resting place. The condo has 3,000 square feet of interior space, highlighted by the two-story living room with some pretty stunning skyline views (the listing calls them "forever views"). The unit is pretty high-tech, too: The garden is watered with a built-in irrigation system, and a home automation system controls lights, window shades and security. The 2BD, 2.5BA unit is currently priced at $3.4 million — exactly double what it sold for in 2004. But how much are buyers willing to pay for that Japanese garden? Five floors down in the same building a larger 5BD, 3.5BA combination unit is currently on the market for $2.49 million.
· Listing: 201 West Grand Avenue Unit: PH2 [Koenig & Strey]
· Landscape design portfolio [Kurisu]
· Now and Zen [Chicago Tribune Magazine]