View from Larrabee

Located in Chicago's growing River North district, this mixed use development offers engaging and sustainable design.  The concept of mixed use is not new by any means, but is making a strong comeback with the demand for sustainable urban design.  Clybourn Point offers ground floor retail and parking, three levels of contemporary condominium living, and a habitable green roof to top it all off. 

View at Corner_Night

The development was completed in August of 2007, by Rada Architecture, whose office space occupies the first floor.  While the project does not have a LEED or Energy Star rating yet, there are a significant number of green features that make this building unique.  Some of these key elements include:

  • Habitable green roof with drought-tolerant, native vegetation
  • Permeable paving system for parking areas
  • Photovoltaic panels providing electricity to common areas
  • Low VOC paints, stains and finishes
  • Bamboo flooring
  • Recycled content in steel, gypsum board, rooftop tiles and rubber pavers
  • Highly efficient elevator
  • Kinetic LED light feature

Why this is important:
Looking beyond the physical construction and the ecological benefits of this project and others like it, this project is important because it responds to its surroundings by being the first attempt in the neighborhood to define pedestrian-oriented urban space.  It succeeds in doing this by means of physical construction, but perhaps more importantly by creating a colorful backdrop for the public stage, the street.  The corner balconies and their users create a physical but unspoken dialogue with pedestrians and passing cars, offering a slightly removed space for residents to enjoy. 

The bold angle of the facade utilizes the allotted space with appropriate proportions, and finally, perhaps my favorite part of the whole project, is the kinetic LED light fixture on the building's edge.  It balances on the edge like a performer walking a tight rope.  Completely aesthetic, it is a perfect accent to the unit.  It provides architectural distinction, but also serves as a neighborhood landmark.  Just think … "head north and take a right when you see the big colorful light on the corner."  These small details are what makes a big difference in cities, and what people recognize and appreciate.  Architecture needs to function on many levels to be successful in a city, and I think it is safe to say that Clybourn Point receives a standing ovation from this critic.

View from Clybn


Living Rm

Top three photos credit: James Steinkamp, Steinkamp Photography.