A villa in the sky on Lake Shore Drive – Chicago Magazine


A A tall glass box in the sky may be the current standard for luxury living, but back then an apartment that looked like a house was a sure sign of success. Grand foyers, dining rooms that comfortably seat 12 people, paneled libraries with fireplaces – rooms, not views – were what it was all about. The lucky ones got both. In Chicago, it doesn’t get any better than the rooftop penthouse at 1500 North Lake Shore Drive, which is now selling for $12 million.

This two-story, six-bedroom co-op sits atop a 25-story, 57-unit building designed by architect Rosario Candela in 1931. A Sicilian immigrant who studied architecture at Columbia University, Candela has designed some of the most prestigious residential properties on New York’s Upper East Side, including 740 Park Avenue, where John D. Rockefeller enjoyed a spread of 37 rooms. At 8,000 square feet, this home is just over a third the size of Rockefeller, but with a 39-foot-long walnut-paneled gallery, a living room with a 20-foot ceiling, and a dining room that Charles Foster Kane might envy, who’s counting?

The 18-room property includes an exercise room, game room, office, and study-type space with wet bar. Designed in a style reminiscent of an Italian villa, it is adorned with coffered ceilings, frescoes, hand-carved doors and extravagantly tiled bathrooms. A long gallery overlooking the living room is backed by an elaborate grid of carved and turned joinery.


The unit presents itself as a stately home, with 5,000 square feet of outdoor space. Terraces flank both sides of the penthouse, while a loggia and lawn (with fountain) offer panoramic views of Lake Michigan. Inside and out, you’re pretty.


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