600 North Lake Shore Drive scores on glass, not on fake balconies

600 North Lake Shore Drive

We’re a little obsessed lately with parking podiums – ie, why developers of high-rises so often hide parking behind walls of brick, stone or concrete, creating imposing edifices at the street level. So we were pleased to see Chicago Magazine‘s Deal Estate blog mention 600 North Lake Shore Drive, a pair of towers (one 40 stories, the other 46) that will rise from a parking podium base.

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Architect Pappageorge / Haymes made a decision – somewhat rare in new high-rise construction – to enclose the parking in glass that extends down to the street. That will no doubt create a nicer view for pedestrians and for traffic passing on Lake Shore Drive.

However, the parking levels will also have false balconies, so the same old idea of hiding the parking seems to be at work. Perhaps some one out there can provide some enlightenment: why mask garages behind faux decorative touches? Are garages necessarily ugly? And is it really so bad to look at a car through a window? In the daytime, it’s hard to see inside windows anyway.

As Contemporaine, the River North building designed by Ralph Johnson, of Perkins & Will, (pictured at right and below) has so beautifully proved, parking doesn’t have to be a secret and can even be cleverly incorporated into the design.

One- to three-bedroom condos in both the north and south towers at 600 North Lake Shore Drive are available, ranging from the low $400s to $1.4 million, according to the project’s Web site. Last we checked, the project was 75 percent sold.

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