Dubbed the "Michigan Loft" for its covetous spot overlooking Michigan Avenue in the Motor Row district of Chicago, this transformed loft is situated in a century-old building that was initially built for automotive assembly and display. Around 2000, the building was converted to industrial style lofts. More recently, Vladimir Radutny Architects overhauled a corner unit to achieve a more functional layout and blend the industrial character of the building with refined and sculptural elements.
Before: Entry and Kitchen
At 2,250 square feet, the existing loft felt both cavernous and disjointed, without a thoughtful means for organizing the layout and little in the way of practical storage. The firm's redesign calibrates the scale to make the apartment more livable, starting with a new wood-clad entry zone lined with storage. "Now, as one enters this dwelling through a low, wood clad transition zone the overwhelming feeling of being inside a large industrial room is very much subdued," says the firm.
There, ceilings with exposed rafters and warm lighting guide entrance into the living spaces with higher ceilings. A utility volume wrapped in wood with a concealed door keeps practical elements like the laundry machines, and brooms and mops, close by, without drawing attention.
Before the renovation, the main living space, "wasn’t very comfortable," says architect Vladimir Radutny. "Since the exterior of this existing loft building has exposed uninsulated masonry walls with expansive windows, there isn't much physical insulation, which made the perimeter of the space very uncomfortable and somewhat uninhabitable." Additionally, the vast size of the room made it difficult to organize logical furniture groupings.
Radutny’s solution was to "utilize the perimeter as this buffer zone," says the architect. The firm wrapped the room in a wood platform that serves multiple functions. The platform contains a heating element to help combat heat loss at the exterior walls. It also "allowed for all the furniture to be pulled away from the perimeter," says Radutny, to better organize the main space. The platform can also serve as a shelf to display art and plants, and alters the room’s scale so it feels a bit more intimate.
Before: Kitchen and Dining
Before: Living Room
After: Living Room
A black steel framework hosts the master bedroom, tucked beneath the structure’s concrete bays, to form a "sleeping cube." By pulling the suite away from the exterior walls, the firm was able to "highly control that space by creating another layer of enclosure," says Radutny. Storage on two walls creates closet space and buffers sound, as does a glass wall, which is the entry point. The result is a cozy spot to sleep and retreat, with a comfortable interior environment.
After: Master Suite
Before: Mezzanine and Upper Loft
After: Mezzanine and Upper Loft
Architecture: Vladimir Radutny Architects
Builder: Artistic Construction LLC
Structural Engineer: Triumph Engineering LLC
Cabinetry: Navillus Woodworks