River North lately has played host to so many mediocre new condo buildings that CMK Development’s Contemporaine was greeted with relief by many of its neighbors. In keeping with CMK’s modern aesthetic, the design by Ralph Johnson, of Perkins & Will, makes a bold statement on the corner of Grand and Wells, as much a sculpture of steel and glass as a functional residential building.
Great architecture, however, doesn’t always translate into quick sales in the current market, so it’s a good sign that only six of the building’s 28 units remain for sale. Prices for the remaining residences range from the $660s to $1.45 million. The condos have two or three bedrooms, two to three baths and 1,702 to 2,513 square feet.
The four-story base contains the lobby, 2,000 square feet of commercial space and a heated garage – all fully glazed, affording a view of the interior, garage ramps and all, and creating an immediate sense of intimacy with the life of the building. Levels five through 15 contain the condominiums and continue the wall of glass with floor-to-ceiling windows and some stunning glass atriums. The residential space is slightly cantilevered over the base of the building, and from the outside, appears to be supported by a single 45-foot concrete column, the Herculean underpinning upon which the integrity of the structure relies.
Scanning upward, attention immediately focuses on the balconies, which jut out of the sides of the building like mini-catwalks in a bold attempt to bring the personality of the structure to the street.
“It has a sculptural dynamic with the balconies spinning off of the building’s column in a fashion similar to a pinwheel,” Johnson said. “Working on this project has been exciting because (developer) Colin (Kihnke) really wanted to push the envelope architecturally. It’s reminiscent of the architectural climate in Chicago in the 1890s when people took risks in design. It fits in with Chicago’s tell-it-like-it-is architecture.”
But buyers have been drawn to more than just an elegant exterior at Contemporaine. The interiors feature stunning views and airy spaces thanks to those floor-to-ceiling windows. Finishes include custom Bulthaup cabinetry, Miele appliances, Grohe fixtures, premium hardwood flooring, oversized Whirlpool tubs, limestone bath floors and granite counters.
The building includes two high-speed elevators, a telephone entry intercom system with a video monitor and a dramatic lobby of slate, stainless steel and imported woods. Indoor heated parking spots are available from $37,500.