Penthouse Apartment

Chicago, Illinois

This mixed use skyscraper's top floors were originally designed for four two-story apartment units.  In the late 1990s, an art collecting couple purchased an adjacent unit and asked VHA to combine them into a single dramatic residence suitable for entertaining and art display. A decade later, the owners acquired a third unit, which VHA transformed into an art gallery for their expanding collection.


Penthouse Apartment

In the first phase of the project, two existing apartments were gutted to the concrete structure and re-planned to create a distinctive two-level residence punctuated with balconies and stainless steel staircases.

An intentionally limited palette of materials and finishes creates consistency from room to room. Wood, plaster, stainless steel and glass create a quiet, elegant backdrop for the owner's artwork.

The spaces were completely re-planned to allow for a more dynamic flow of space.  Along the apartment's perimeter, soaring double-height spaces take advantage of skyline views.

The kitchen, butler's pantry, and other service related areas are identified by a common language of high-honed Indiana limestone, white statuary marble, and hand-brushed stainless steel.

A pair of stainless steel stairs connect the apartment's two levels. Open risers and limestone treads complement the carefully detailed metal. Cabinetry, custom furnishings and hardware were designed to harmonize with the client's collection of Art Deco and early modern furniture pieces.

Penthouse Annex

A decade later, a neighboring 5,500 sf unit was transformed into an art gallery and entertainment space. It's main function is to house and display the owner's collection of contemporary art by living artists.

Like the adjacent apartment, the annex features dramatic double height spaces around the perimeter well suited to large contemporary pieces. Automated louvers above the central gallery control daylight from skylights above, and a dual window shade system protects the interiors and artwork from excess light exposure.

More intimate single story spaces display smaller works and photography.  An art storage vault and prep room are also included.

The second floor is set back from the full height windows with cantilevered balconies to create dynamic double-height spaces.  In the library and office, VHA designed custom stainless steel and glass bookcases.

The subdued material palette echoes that of the adjacent apartment and includes hand-scraped walnut floors, satin stainless steel and honed limestone.

Helical Stair

A limited opening in the structural concrete frame necessitated the design of a helical staircase which optimized the available footprint.

Each solid walnut, fan-shaped tread is supported by a white painted steel bar frame. Treads are routed so that the steel is partially recessed in the underside of the tread. The resulting pattern of white steel and natural walnut provides a clear structural expression when viewed from below. Each stringer consists of two curved steel plates, spaced apart to create an integral shoe which holds the glass railings. The low-iron glass panels are custom curved to fit precisely into the helical stringers.

The floor plans below show, from left to right, the original west facing apartment, center north facing addition, and east facing art gallery annex.

62nd Floor Plan

63rd Floor Plan


General Contractor: Harold O. Schultz Co., Inc. (Apartment) and Norcon, Inc. (Annex)

Structural Engineer: Thornton-Tomasetti (Apartment) and Enspect, Inc. (Annex)

M/E/P Engineer: Klaucens (Apartment) and WMA Consulting Engineers (Annex)

Lighting: Sylvan R. Shemitz Associates (Apartment) and Alex Krikhaar (Annex)

Photographer: Hedrich-Blessing (Apartment) and Bill Zbaren (Annex)