Reimagining the future of urban living through the design of a dwelling in a mid-century icon.



Designed to function as a home and as a workspace.

The 725 sq/ft space feels bigger than expected (and that is a good thing when you live and work in the same place). The pie-shaped floor plan starts out narrower at the entry, opening up as you move toward the wall of floor to ceiling windows. Two separate balconies adding another 270 sq/ft of living space. The need to have a fully functioning office setting necessitated rethinking the layout, but the desire to keep the mid-century details intact resulted in a few careful design strategies. 


Located in Bertrand Goldberg's Marina City, the landmark project that kickstarted a return to downtown living in Chicago and introduced an entirely new model for urban living. 

Bertrand Goldberg's "city within a city" is a mixed-use complex that holds 896 apartments, an hotel, theater, bowling alley, grocery store and multiple restaurants. Construction lasted from 1960 to 1967, with the first tenants moving in in 1963. When the towers were completed they were the tallest apartment buildings in the world and the world's highest concrete structures. This groundbreaking project was originally undertaken, in part, to reverse the trend of "suburban flight" and ultimately resulted in the Federal Housing Administration introducing a new definition for "family". Goldberg's vision for a dense, city experience is more timely than ever and has become a sought after lifestyle for designers and other creative professionals in downtown Chicago.  

Photo: Hedrich Blessing (  )

Photo: Hedrich Blessing ( )

My message, I think, is much more important either than myself personally, or than the quick identification as the round-building architect. I am talking about the performance of people in a social system, about the performance of people in the city.


Minimal interventions open the home up for new patterns of living.   

The original layout of the 35th floor unit was perfectly suited for life in the 1960's. There was clear delineation between the kitchen and the living room and the bedroom suite was entirely private, which was desirable for a couple at that time. Today as more and more people are working from home (Forbes magazine projects that up to 50% of the workforce will be working outside of the office by 2020) this use of space is less practical.

The activities that the space would need to support were carefully researched before a design was developed that could provide more meaningful flows between spaces and allow for multiple activities to occur simultaneously.

The bedroom wall was pulled back, expanding views onto the skyline and highlighting the curving concrete structure. This simple move opened up the space of the bedroom to double as a generously sized office during working hours. A large opening was created in the kitchen wall to provide visual connection to the living room, while hiding the kitchen counter and appliances from view. The hall that previously connected the bedroom to the bathroom was utilized to hold the refrigerator and a vertical pantry, creating a much larger kitchen and entertaining area.

1964: Original layout

1964: Original layout

2016: Reinterpretation 

2016: Reinterpretation 


Every element was carefully selected so that spaces could switch between modes of use throughout the day.

Utilizing a murphy bed made the entire bedroom available for office functions. The modified bedroom wall hides the bed from view from the living room even when it is in the open position. A large dining table, almost 7' long and over 3' wide, was selected so that it could be used not only for eating, but also for holding meetings or spreading out a project for the day.  A sleeper sofa in the living room creates an open "guest room" for overnight guests.


A simplified selection of materials helps to reduce visual clutter, highlight personal items and create a seamless experience as you move through the home.

White was used for the majority of the new finishes in the residence, including the continuous resin flooring, plaster walls and the solid surface counters installed in both the kitchen and the bathroom. 

Original artifacts were refurbished and reused whenever possible. The original metal kitchen cabinets were intact and were carefully removed, sandblasted and re-powder coated. A number of other original features, including the door knobs, thermostats, air conditioners and bathroom vanity were also still in place and were able to be incorporated into the design. 

Fortuitously, during construction, an adjacent condo was being gutted and served as the source for an original vanity light and several kitchen cabinets that were used to expand storage in both the kitchen and office.

All unit photography by Lauren McPhillips