Of the thousand’s of buildings in Chicago, I’d like to single out The Montgomery as one of my favorite buildings. The once corporate headquarters for Montgomery Wards Catalog Company is now a 28-story, 245-unit residential tower in Chicago’s emerging and posh River North neighborhood.
An Icon of Modernism
Montgomery Wards Company originally built their 26 story high-rise in 1972 as a corporate headquarters, on Chicago Avenue just east of the Chicago River. Things were looking up for Wards at the time and they made a huge statement by hiring Minoru Yamasaki, the Japanese-American architect who was also working on the World Trade Center at the time. Yamasaki’s ground-breaking design was considered structurally & visually innovative at the time. The rectangular structure was designed to have wide open floors uninterrupted by walls, so its support columns were sited in the center of the building and its corners were braced with massive concrete walls skinned in travertine marble, which remains today as one of its signature details.
An Amazing Renovation
The building has since undergone an intense renovation to residential condos through the collaborative efforts of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Pappageorge/Haymes. They created a mirror-like wall of blue-green tinted windows & brushed aluminum framing anchored by the white travertine marble corners. With this intense combination, The Montgomery commands a city skyline presence with its modern lines. Additionally, they reconfigured the elevators for greater efficiency, added balconies to the east and west facades, and built a very unique glass parking helix. The first residential units were offered in 2005. The units range in size from 1 to 4 bedrooms, have 10.5′ ceilings on the first 25 floors, 16′ ceilings on the 26th floor and 12′ to 27′ ceilings on the 27th and 28th floors (you read that right). The luxury common amenities include a concierge, rooftop zen garden, state-of-the-art fitness center, private dog run, enclosed bicycle storage room, storage lockers, dry cleaners, community room, 24-hour doorman and on-site management, and restaurant on the first floor.
Setting the stage for the building’s modern asthetic, Darcy Bonner master-minded the stunning re-design of the 4,000 sqft lobby with 30′
ceilings to create its glass canopy entrance. A glass wall underscores a narrow reflecting pool organizing the space into the lobby and mail room. Bonner used luxurious finishes, such as Wenge paneling, travertine marble, oversized upholstered velour furniture, lighting
fixtures (all custom Bonner designs) to give the space intimacy and warmth. The lobby has become the gateway to modern luxury in this building. Many savvy Chicago fasionistas regard The Montgomery as an icon for modern living and the most significant, desirable high-rise in River North. Those who have put down roots in The Montgomery are design savvy Chicagoans that include noted designers, dealers, and art collectors. The Montgomery has become an icon for modern living.