Since we last checked on the 30-story, 300-unit ‘Landmark West Loop’ apartment development earlier this spring, the dark, industrial-looking tower at 1035 W. Van Buren has opened its doors to its first renters. Looming large at the southern edge of Chicago’s hip and rapidly developing West Loop and steps from the Illinois Medical District, the newly-opened project is certainly hard to ignore.
Yet beneath its steely skin, Landmark is a very colorful building that is thoughtfully constructed to reflect not only a creative West Loop aesthetic but also a mind set. The project shows that while Related Midwest may be one of Chicago’s most busy and high-profile real estate developers, the company isn’t shying away from taking risks and trying new things.
Crafted by New York-based design architect Morris Adjmi in collaboration with local architect of record GREC, the industrial look of Landmark’s exterior can be somewhat polarizing. Resembling a dark monolith looming tall over the Eisenhower Expressway when viewed from afar, the facade does reveal a considerable amount of depth and nuance upon closer inspection. Though the tower’s upper floors are clad in an orderly grid of steel I-beams, the design and materials are considerably warmer and more inviting as it meets the street.
“The transition to brick along with the patterning of the lobby glass comes from [Adjmi’s] desire to create a rich pedestrian experience,” explained Ann Thompson of Related Midwest. Illuminated by a canopy of indirect overhead pin lights, the building’s entrance manages to be elegant and visually inviting.
While visible from outside, the richness of the Landmark’s lobby becomes far more apparent upon stepping inside. Utilizing light colored floors, splashy artwork, and warm, three-dimensional wood panels, the ground floor is described by Thompson as an “aspirational” space that compliments its surroundings and which residents can feel proud to share with visitors.
Located higher within the building is the Landmark’s primary amenity floor. At its heart is the so-called Living Library space. Featuring multiple places to plug-in and work from home, the room is one of many communal spaces created by New York-based boutique interior design firm Reunion Goods & Services.
“Reunion brought some unique ideas and materials to the project,” said Related’s Thompson. “They pushed us out of our comfort zone. For instance, doing yellow sofas is not something you would find in our normal DNA.”
The choice to take more risks wasn’t simply a case of going against the flow, but rather a conscious effort to reflect and capture what Related describes as “the creative energy of the West Loop.” In addition to purchased furnishings, the Library and its connecting spaces also feature bespoke pieces such as the “dipped-dyed wall” created by dunking planks of wood into different pigments to create a sort of blue and green abstract skyline.
Clearly not shy of color and bold accent pieces, this area also features a number of metallic copper touches in its desk lamps and fireplace. The material makes an encore appearance in the well-appointed demonstration kitchen created as a nod to the neighborhood’s abundance of chef-driven restaurants. With no shortage of local talent, this demonstration may actually live up to its intended purpose.
Found in just about every new residential development, fitness centers tend to be one of the most routinely used building amenities. In the case of Landmark West Loop, the development team not only provided top-of-the-line equipment but also a higher degree of design than traditionally found in newer rental buildings. Flooded with natural light, Landmark’s 3,500-square-foot-fitness facility sports a playful overhead graphic that is meant to evoke a gymnasium floor.
Little more than a construction staging area during our May visit, the tower’s finished pool deck and terrace feature a strong connection to the interior amenity spaces thanks to walls that appear to seamlessly transition between the two. Outside, dark metal and wood pergolas over the grilling stations share clear DNA with the tower’s exterior.
Though technically inside, Landmark’s year-round “pool house” game room was conceived as a colorful nod to an outdoor beach cabana. “This is somewhere where we let our designers have their way,” explained Related’s Michael Ellch. “It turned out to be a really cool space,” “But we definitely had to trust their vision on that a little bit.”
While amenities can help rent units in a building, the residential experience ultimately comes down to the apartments themselves. Here, Landmark also managed deliver an extra dash of design. “It’s a committed design aesthetic that extends to the whole building,” said Thompson. “We designed something very specific for this building, this demographic [of renter], and this location.”
For example, many aspects of the units such as cabinet veneers, flooring, and roller shades were custom designed for the building. Other notable features include Nest thermostats, complimentary Google Chromecasts, and fully built-out closet spaces.
With its height and location, one of Landmark’s top draws is obviously its 360-degree view. “I think Morris [Adjmi] did a great job with this. When you look at the building from the exterior, you see the minor grid and the major grid. But when you’re in the unit, your views are celebrated and not compromised,” commented Ellch.
“Even the color palette compliments the view,” added Thompson. “This is one of the first buildings we’ve done in a very long time where we did dark window frames. We were a little nervous about it a first but the finished units do a perfect job framing the view.”
- An early look inside the West Loop’s ‘Landmark’ apartment tower [Curbed Chicago]
- A closer look at Landmark West Loop [Curbed Chicago]
- Landmark Westloop [official website]