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Mapped: Chicago's Most Architecturally Significant Rental High-Rises

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Another map!? That's right, chief— we're in the thick of Renters Week and maps make more happen for more people. Today's scheduled enlightenment addresses the best in rental high-rise architecture in Chicago from the 1880s to the present. Focusing only on large buildings, Curbed latched onto 17 lookers that exemplify an architectural era, have spawned copycats, or bring a freshness to the city's contemporary portfolio. We'd love to hear our readers' favorites and refine the list to include notable omissions. On the roster: early skyscrapers like the Fisher Building and MDA City Apartments; hotel conversions such as The Shoreland and Del Prado; factory conversions; Lincoln Park's vintage highlights; celebrated newcomers 1611 W Division and Optima Tower; and, yes, the flawed but mighty Presidential Towers.
·Renters Week 2013 [Curbed Chicago]

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1. Onterie Center

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441 E Erie St
Chicago, IL 60611

The 1980s Onterie Center is a great piece of mimicry on the Near North Side, distilling the steel cross-bracing of nearby Hancock Center as concrete ornament. The 60-story tower, designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill and pioneering structural engineer Faziur Kahn, sits one block in from the lake which ensures it gets noticed.

2. Belden Stratford

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2300 N Lincoln Park W
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 281-2900
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Lincoln Park's Belden Statford became the most recent high-profile hotel-to-rental conversion. It's a good thing, too, since its Beaux Arts potency deserves to be enjoyed by locals. The two-wing luxury building surfaced in the 1920s and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. One welcome consequence of its hotel origin is a lobby that persists as one of the city's most opulent, commercial or residential.

3. Lake Street Lofts

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910 W Lake St
Chicago, IL 60607

One of the West Loop's oldest surviving structures is the Lake Street Lofts building. The simple block was built in 1886 and converted from the Zimmerman Brush Company factory to 89 apartments in 1999. Close inspection reveals fine grained exterior detailing, and interiors were rebuilt with trinkets of its industrial past. FitzGerald Associates Architects has offices in the ground floor.

4. 443 & 451 W Wrightwood

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451 W Wrightwood Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 549-2221
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Two leaders in apartment lobby design are the vintage buildings at 443 & 451 W Wrightwood (pictured). The 1920s buildings claim ties to unofficial Capone business (that lady killer!) and served as Nuclear fallout shelters for a time, although that wasn't an uncommon thing. Once again, Lincoln Park shows us all up.

5. Del Prado

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5307 S Hyde Park Blvd
Chicago, IL 60615

Hyde Park's Del Prado is as Alpha as apartment blocks come, adorned head-to-toe with an Art Deco Native American theme and possessing an incredibly large and high-ceilinged lobby. That's a credit to the landmark's hotel roots, built in 1918 as the Cooper-Carlton and a popular spot for passing dignitaries and A-listers of the early-to-mid-1900s (The Babe, Marilyn, etc). Antheus Development and Studio Gang Architects worked the Beaux Arts-Art Deco hybrid building into a smart collection of new apartments.

6. The Shoreland

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5454 South Shore
Chicago, IL 60615
(888) 616-9503
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Up the shore from Del Prado is Hyde Park's other commanding presence-- the Shoreland. The pattern is the same here too, with this beast starting life as high-end hotel, working a stint as U of C dorms, and deploying a similarly hip and classy apartment transformation just this year. MAC Properties saw to the three-year conversion, which brings 330 rentals to market, carved from 1,000 rooms.

7. Fisher Building City Apartments

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343 S Dearborn St
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 913-1922
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Everyone loves the Fisher Building, particularly now that it's fully restored and put to apartment use. The golden terra cotta-clad early skyscraper has impossibly intricate etchings of sea life, a play off the developer's name Lucius Fisher. The large amount of surface area given over to windows was a major innovation in the 1890s. Elements of the building's office origins are present in the lobby, gracious elevator bays, and in the hallways of each floor. Charles Atwood of Burnham & Co is the architect.

8. 2828 N Pine Grove Ave

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2828 N Pine Grove Ave
Chicago, IL 60657

Up the block from the Brewster Building at the Lake View/Lincoln Park border (sadly not rental), is a conversion of a surreal 1920s hotel, with its terra cotta-laden grand entry. Going by the name 2828 North, the building played host to movie stars and served as an alluring motion picture backdrop until the 1990s. It's easy to imagine it translating well to the silver screen.

9. Sheridan Plaza Luxury Apartments

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The Sheridan Plaza was designed by Walter Ahlschlager and helped make Sheridan Road fashionable. The one-time seasonal home to the Cubs, Sheridan Plaza was the tallest thing in Uptown when it opened in 1920. Vertical bands of white glazed terra cotta emphasizes the 12-story height, leading up to winged grotesques at the corners and urns along the roofline. A gorgeous lobby completes the experience. The building was named to the National Register in 1980.

10. Roosevelt University Vertical Campus

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425 S. Wabash
Chicago, IL

Roosevelt University's bold new "vertical campus" is all the rage in the East Loop, a VOA Architects-designed blue-glass shard shimmying up 32 stories (470'). It's an eye-catcher for sure, but its status as one of the world's tallest dormitories adds significance. Only the top half is residential, but manages a 633-student capacity. Not everyone wants college kids flooding their streets, but downtown can use the around-the-clock stimulus.

11. Randolph Tower City Apartments

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188 Randolph st.
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 291-8679
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Randolph Tower City Apartments is another rental adaptation of a vintage Loop office tower, and this one is a testament to patient restoration-- the 45-story icon was in want of major terra cotta rehab and a near-total interior gutting. Village Green got the job done last year and now 312 apartments and a bevy of new amenities (including a covered rooftop pool) are here for the taking.

12. MDA City Apartments

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63 E Lake St
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 223-0977
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Village Green cooked up another impressive apartment conversion for this 24-story Daniel Burnham Jr.-designed masterpiece at Lake & Wabash. The rooftop amenity deck is a draw for renters (and Open House Chicago frequenters, we might add), as is the classic lobby. If it wasn't obvious already, hotel and apartment conversion is the future for many an outmoded office building, and if it comes with careful restoration we're all for it.

13. 1611 W. Division

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1611 W. Division St.
Chicago, IL 60622

New to the game is the wonderfully polarizing 1611 W Division, popularly known as the "Tower of Pizza Hut" (an ode to the longstanding Pizza Hut drive-thru that forfeited this site). Designed by Whealer Kearns, this breath of fresh air does major work for a neglected and underdeveloped Polonia Triangle and will do more once retail fills in. It's also a transit-oriented statement, as the developer matched 99 units to exactly zero parking spaces. To all you developers out there: it just takes guts, guys.... oh, and willing neighbors.

14. Optima Chicago Center

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200 E Illinois St
Chicago, IL 60611

Architect and developer David Hovey just broke the seal on Optima Chicago Center in October, and the luxury rental is steadily filling in. Some say the 42-story Streeterville tower looks like a refrigerator, others Darth Vader, but it's fine if it's the butt of some jokes-- blue & black glass edifice was out to make a splash, particularly since the abnormally large clearing on three sides permits gawking from far afield. Two wraparound common terraces slice across the south facade at the top of the parking podium and again at a high floor. Our one concern: that the building weathers well.

15. The Seneca Boutique Apartments

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200 E Chestnut St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 787-8900
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The Seneca is yet another hotel-to-apartment conversion, this time in Streeterville in the shadow of the Hancock Center. The almost one-to-one conversion of rooms to units means many are quite small (er, "cozy"). The interiors, while nice enough, fail to match the handsome and nuanced brick exterior which is all that really matters to the average Chicagoan.

16. Vesta Lofts

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125 E. 21st Street
Chicago, IL

One of our personal favorites is JK Equities just-finished rental loft conversion of the Nationally-landmarked Vesta Accumulator Building at 21st & Indiana. It's a sturdy structure with incredibly original hardwoods and timber beams, impressive windows, and very high ceilings. And, importantly, it's for the average and/or young renter-- this kind of quality goes condo most of the time.

17. Presidential Towers

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555 W Madison St
Chicago, IL 60661

We've called the Presidential Towers a "fortress of crud" in the past, but our view of the staggered four-piece complex now favors peaceful coexistence. We're sure they're downright poetic to some, and it's a fact that the 1986 development brought 2,300+ apartments to a then-blighted Near West Side. The towers are each 49 stories, and Solomon Cordwell Buenz originally designed six of them. It's an odd case of a standalone being lousy, two being still pretty lousy, and four transcending to skyline sculpture.

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1. Onterie Center

441 E Erie St, Chicago, IL 60611

The 1980s Onterie Center is a great piece of mimicry on the Near North Side, distilling the steel cross-bracing of nearby Hancock Center as concrete ornament. The 60-story tower, designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill and pioneering structural engineer Faziur Kahn, sits one block in from the lake which ensures it gets noticed.

441 E Erie St
Chicago, IL 60611

2. Belden Stratford

2300 N Lincoln Park W, Chicago, IL 60614

Lincoln Park's Belden Statford became the most recent high-profile hotel-to-rental conversion. It's a good thing, too, since its Beaux Arts potency deserves to be enjoyed by locals. The two-wing luxury building surfaced in the 1920s and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. One welcome consequence of its hotel origin is a lobby that persists as one of the city's most opulent, commercial or residential.

2300 N Lincoln Park W
Chicago, IL 60614

3. Lake Street Lofts

910 W Lake St, Chicago, IL 60607

One of the West Loop's oldest surviving structures is the Lake Street Lofts building. The simple block was built in 1886 and converted from the Zimmerman Brush Company factory to 89 apartments in 1999. Close inspection reveals fine grained exterior detailing, and interiors were rebuilt with trinkets of its industrial past. FitzGerald Associates Architects has offices in the ground floor.

910 W Lake St
Chicago, IL 60607

4. 443 & 451 W Wrightwood

451 W Wrightwood Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

Two leaders in apartment lobby design are the vintage buildings at 443 & 451 W Wrightwood (pictured). The 1920s buildings claim ties to unofficial Capone business (that lady killer!) and served as Nuclear fallout shelters for a time, although that wasn't an uncommon thing. Once again, Lincoln Park shows us all up.

451 W Wrightwood Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

5. Del Prado

5307 S Hyde Park Blvd, Chicago, IL 60615

Hyde Park's Del Prado is as Alpha as apartment blocks come, adorned head-to-toe with an Art Deco Native American theme and possessing an incredibly large and high-ceilinged lobby. That's a credit to the landmark's hotel roots, built in 1918 as the Cooper-Carlton and a popular spot for passing dignitaries and A-listers of the early-to-mid-1900s (The Babe, Marilyn, etc). Antheus Development and Studio Gang Architects worked the Beaux Arts-Art Deco hybrid building into a smart collection of new apartments.

5307 S Hyde Park Blvd
Chicago, IL 60615

6. The Shoreland

5454 South Shore, Chicago, IL 60615

Up the shore from Del Prado is Hyde Park's other commanding presence-- the Shoreland. The pattern is the same here too, with this beast starting life as high-end hotel, working a stint as U of C dorms, and deploying a similarly hip and classy apartment transformation just this year. MAC Properties saw to the three-year conversion, which brings 330 rentals to market, carved from 1,000 rooms.

5454 South Shore
Chicago, IL 60615

7. Fisher Building City Apartments

343 S Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60604

Everyone loves the Fisher Building, particularly now that it's fully restored and put to apartment use. The golden terra cotta-clad early skyscraper has impossibly intricate etchings of sea life, a play off the developer's name Lucius Fisher. The large amount of surface area given over to windows was a major innovation in the 1890s. Elements of the building's office origins are present in the lobby, gracious elevator bays, and in the hallways of each floor. Charles Atwood of Burnham & Co is the architect.

343 S Dearborn St
Chicago, IL 60604

8. 2828 N Pine Grove Ave

2828 N Pine Grove Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

Up the block from the Brewster Building at the Lake View/Lincoln Park border (sadly not rental), is a conversion of a surreal 1920s hotel, with its terra cotta-laden grand entry. Going by the name 2828 North, the building played host to movie stars and served as an alluring motion picture backdrop until the 1990s. It's easy to imagine it translating well to the silver screen.

2828 N Pine Grove Ave
Chicago, IL 60657

9. Sheridan Plaza Luxury Apartments

Chicago, IL

The Sheridan Plaza was designed by Walter Ahlschlager and helped make Sheridan Road fashionable. The one-time seasonal home to the Cubs, Sheridan Plaza was the tallest thing in Uptown when it opened in 1920. Vertical bands of white glazed terra cotta emphasizes the 12-story height, leading up to winged grotesques at the corners and urns along the roofline. A gorgeous lobby completes the experience. The building was named to the National Register in 1980.

10. Roosevelt University Vertical Campus

425 S. Wabash, Chicago, IL

Roosevelt University's bold new "vertical campus" is all the rage in the East Loop, a VOA Architects-designed blue-glass shard shimmying up 32 stories (470'). It's an eye-catcher for sure, but its status as one of the world's tallest dormitories adds significance. Only the top half is residential, but manages a 633-student capacity. Not everyone wants college kids flooding their streets, but downtown can use the around-the-clock stimulus.

425 S. Wabash
Chicago, IL

11. Randolph Tower City Apartments

188 Randolph st., Chicago, IL 60606

Randolph Tower City Apartments is another rental adaptation of a vintage Loop office tower, and this one is a testament to patient restoration-- the 45-story icon was in want of major terra cotta rehab and a near-total interior gutting. Village Green got the job done last year and now 312 apartments and a bevy of new amenities (including a covered rooftop pool) are here for the taking.

188 Randolph st.
Chicago, IL 60606

12. MDA City Apartments

63 E Lake St, Chicago, IL 60601

Village Green cooked up another impressive apartment conversion for this 24-story Daniel Burnham Jr.-designed masterpiece at Lake & Wabash. The rooftop amenity deck is a draw for renters (and Open House Chicago frequenters, we might add), as is the classic lobby. If it wasn't obvious already, hotel and apartment conversion is the future for many an outmoded office building, and if it comes with careful restoration we're all for it.

63 E Lake St
Chicago, IL 60601

13. 1611 W. Division

1611 W. Division St., Chicago, IL 60622

New to the game is the wonderfully polarizing 1611 W Division, popularly known as the "Tower of Pizza Hut" (an ode to the longstanding Pizza Hut drive-thru that forfeited this site). Designed by Whealer Kearns, this breath of fresh air does major work for a neglected and underdeveloped Polonia Triangle and will do more once retail fills in. It's also a transit-oriented statement, as the developer matched 99 units to exactly zero parking spaces. To all you developers out there: it just takes guts, guys.... oh, and willing neighbors.

1611 W. Division St.
Chicago, IL 60622

14. Optima Chicago Center

200 E Illinois St, Chicago, IL 60611

Architect and developer David Hovey just broke the seal on Optima Chicago Center in October, and the luxury rental is steadily filling in. Some say the 42-story Streeterville tower looks like a refrigerator, others Darth Vader, but it's fine if it's the butt of some jokes-- blue & black glass edifice was out to make a splash, particularly since the abnormally large clearing on three sides permits gawking from far afield. Two wraparound common terraces slice across the south facade at the top of the parking podium and again at a high floor. Our one concern: that the building weathers well.

200 E Illinois St
Chicago, IL 60611

15. The Seneca Boutique Apartments

200 E Chestnut St, Chicago, IL 60611

The Seneca is yet another hotel-to-apartment conversion, this time in Streeterville in the shadow of the Hancock Center. The almost one-to-one conversion of rooms to units means many are quite small (er, "cozy"). The interiors, while nice enough, fail to match the handsome and nuanced brick exterior which is all that really matters to the average Chicagoan.

200 E Chestnut St
Chicago, IL 60611

16. Vesta Lofts

125 E. 21st Street, Chicago, IL

One of our personal favorites is JK Equities just-finished rental loft conversion of the Nationally-landmarked Vesta Accumulator Building at 21st & Indiana. It's a sturdy structure with incredibly original hardwoods and timber beams, impressive windows, and very high ceilings. And, importantly, it's for the average and/or young renter-- this kind of quality goes condo most of the time.

125 E. 21st Street
Chicago, IL

17. Presidential Towers

555 W Madison St, Chicago, IL 60661

We've called the Presidential Towers a "fortress of crud" in the past, but our view of the staggered four-piece complex now favors peaceful coexistence. We're sure they're downright poetic to some, and it's a fact that the 1986 development brought 2,300+ apartments to a then-blighted Near West Side. The towers are each 49 stories, and Solomon Cordwell Buenz originally designed six of them. It's an odd case of a standalone being lousy, two being still pretty lousy, and four transcending to skyline sculpture.

555 W Madison St
Chicago, IL 60661