Today, for our weekly Epstein Throwback Thursday profile, we take a trip back to May, 1958 for the opening of 247 East Chestnut, a 26-story residential high-rise located in Chicago. This Epstein designed and engineered building is an example of reinforced concrete construction and featured economical flat-plate slabs and columns which were exposed on the exterior and painted black to accent the skeleton of the structure. Within the black grid there were spandrels of pinkish brick which concealed the fan-coil heating and cooling units.
The black structural skeleton was left exposed on the roof of the Tower’s south side to provide space for a resident sun-deck, the rest of the penthouse space was designed to house the building’s mechanical units, provide tenant storage as well as a unit dedicated to the apartment building’s superintendent. (Not a bad unit we have to say for 247 East’s Super!)
A typical floorplate at 247 East Chestnut consisted of 4,700 sf and four apartments as well as a centrally located stair-elevator core. This core also served as the service conduit for the apartment’s kitchens, bathrooms and entrances and also freed up the exterior living space to allow for better views and daylighting opportunities for the units.
Due to poor soil conditions the parking, which consisted of 70 spots for residents of the Tower, was designed for the first three levels.
Epstein’s simplicity of design and choice in materials helped keep the construction costs for 247 East Chestnut extremely economical – which meant that the high-rise was constructed for approximately $14/sf or $1.6M. A figure that equates to $13.4M in 2016 – still a serious bargain!
Additionally, here’s an interesting factoid about the Tower, and to be honest were not sure if the following statement using the power of hindsight is a compliment, but whatever the case, the Soviet government selected this building as ‘handsome example’ of design and featured the building in its 1959 American National Exhibition of Architecture which took place in 1959. Even though many examples of Soviet-style architecture were clearly lacking in foresight, design and elegance, we do think, like the Soviet’s, that 247 East Chestnut is ‘handsome’ and is truly a grand example of mid-century modern economical and simple design.
Lastly, if you are curious, 247 East still stands although an 80s style porte cochere canopy has been added to connect the lobby with the drop off on East Chestnut, and the stylish black skeleton no longer exists as the entire building was painted to match the original salmon/pinkish hues of the brick spandrels.