Vladimir Radutny makes his mark on Chicago with Mies renovations
“Living and working in Mies buildings had a lot of influence on me,” says Vladimir Radoutny, reflecting the many apartments he renovated in the Chicago towers of the German-American architect, the steel twin towers of 860–880 Lake Shore Drive to the two concrete structures of 900-910 completed in 1957. “They symbolize the architecture of Chicago,” he added.
Seventy years have passed since Ludwig Mies van der Rohe erected the condo towers along Lake Chicago, having led the Bauhaus and fled Nazi-ruled Berlin to lead the Armor School of Architecture. Windy City Institute of Technology (now the Illinois Institute of Technology). Today, some residents of these iconic towers have sought the familiarity and expertise of Radutny – who has made Chicago home since 1989 after he and his family also fled persecution and instability in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. – in order to bring their modernist homes into the 21st century.
In 2006, Radutny started his architectural career in one of the 860-880 units, after he and his wife bought an apartment there to renovate. “The units are very dated, not in their appearance, but because they were designed at a time when separation of spaces was a must,” he said. “All the kitchens are hidden away, introverted and with walls, and the bathrooms are relatively small. Light has never been considered a value for these spaces.
His first official project in Mies Towers, however, came in 2013, when he refurbished Unit 3E for a Virginia-based client who “wanted a bachelor apartment with a view of the lake.” The local architect redesigned Mies’ original layout, with its closed kitchen, small bathroom and minimal natural light, with a new minimal and understated open plan plan. A glass wall that doubles as a headboard supports the views and light through the interiors.
It was while attending a party in this recently renovated project that Radutny met his next client, whose house at 9C in 860-880 now features floating volumes in pale wood for storage. Radutny was then contacted by a couple from Michigan who owned a unit in Mies’ other 900 complex, unit 2808. By this time, he too had moved into 910, with its curtain wall reflecting the blue water of Lake Michigan like a mirror. It was throughout this mission, which was recently completed in 2019, that the architect refined his understanding of Mies’ work. “I began to see and deeply appreciate what Mies van der Rohe was creating. My observations of his work living in, working there and teaching in his buildings have had a tremendous impact on the way we think about our own projects.
At unit 2808, Radutny and his longtime colleague Fanny Hothan, who also worked on 3E, created an interior design scheme based on a series of horizontal or vertical planes (of walls, cabinets and shelves ) to highlight the original lines of the space. . Moving away from previous work (closer to boxes and volumes), the concept features walls that change thickness and wood alternating grain and finish, from gloss to oak, as a way to visually cohesive the whole. inside. “The design tries to deal with a darker, more boxed perimeter,” he said.
Prior to this project, Radutny used to work with the “timelessness” of the 860-880’s aluminum and glass hull, but Unit 2808’s project tasked him with refinishing and resurfacing. “Black heavy objects” steel-framed towers. “They are very different in terms of the material palette,” he explained. “All previous units were inherently lighter because the windows and siding are made from lighter aluminum. 860-880 towers which have windows clad in lighter anodized aluminum, where 900-910 have black aluminum frames and darker tinted glass.
Since first working in iconic Modernist high-rise buildings ten years ago, Radunty has developed a unique sensitivity to optimize natural light, openness and organization without compromising Mies’ original design. . Reflecting on what he’s learned over the years, he notices the precision required: “Everything you put in there has to be as close to precision as possible. The precision of the workmanship of things is a by-product of the work in these buildings. This attention to precision is found in Radutny’s conceptions, from physical openness to material continuity within units: “It’s a very Miesian way of thinking.
Radutny specializes in residential work: he also remodeled an apartment on Michigan Avenue in Chicago and transformed a dilapidated 2-unit brick building into a welcoming residence. And yet, nothing stops the local architect and his eponymous studio on his journey to revitalize Mies Towers along Lake Chicago, a unique trajectory for someone who began his career working for Chicago’s. Krueck Sexton Partners (Ron Krueck actually studied under Mies). But Radutny thinks he only learned this sensitivity and closeness to Mies because he was there at the right time and in the right place: “The greatest influence on me has been through the experiences of his work.