Lake Shore Drive Home Deconstruction 150 150 Administrator

Lake Shore Drive Home Deconstruction

Take a tour of the deconstruction of an incredible Lake Shore Drive condominium. Architect Amy Scruggs shares the step-by-step thinking behind a total redesign of a 1920s Chicago co-op and some of the challenges of remodeling in a city high-rise on Lake Michigan.


The North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago Architecture Series:

Hi, this is Amy Scruggs from Scott Simpson Design Build and we’re working on a renovation of a historic co-op at 1500  North Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. I know that we’re typically known for doing new construction and additions and remodelings in the suburbs but we actually do quite a bit of work in the city as well and we’re excited to share this project with you.

It was designed in the 1920s. It’s a beautiful limestone and has an incredible view of Lake Michigan and we’re here today doing some demo so let’s have a look around. We have this incredible opportunity to modernize a house that really hasn’t been touched for the last 35 years. We’ll see some great old light fixtures, crazy wallpaper, and all kinds of other fun stuff as we take a tour through demolition.

So, we’re standing here in what was the formal living room. Behind me is the formal dining room. We’re actually reimagining this space to make it feel less formal and modernize it for the young couple who’s bought this co-op and what used to be a giant oversized living room is and what used to be a giant oversized living room is lake and then a dining area. Behind me, rather than being a formal dining room is going to be their family room space. They wanted to be able to make sure that they have a big, comfortable space to not only enjoy themselves and their guests but also look out at the lake every day. I mean, that’s the one of the biggest features of this apartment. The location of the kitchen right now is in the back. It’s dark. It has no connection to these spaces where they’re going to actually live. Part of the exciting piece of this project is how do I move a kitchen from one place to a place where there was never a kitchen before. So, it’s going to be an extreme challenge – that we’re up to – in terms of moving all the plumbing and the gas and everything else. But this will be family room space here and then that’s going to be where their kitchen is. So, it’s an exciting sort of reimagination of this space, bringing it up to date and having it be a space where I know they’re going to spend all of their time.

So, we’re standing now in what was the former kitchen. As you can see, it’s tucked into the sort of backside of the house.  While the windows are big and large, the view is of the fire escape, which no one wants to see in the kitchen. All of the demolition here that’s happening is being done by hand. Everything that comes out of this house whether it’s trim or plaster or wire lath needs to go into this can that goes down seven floors through an alley and out to a truck. The logistics of demolition here are quite challenging and much logistics of demolition here are quite challenging and much suburbs.

This gallery space which has this incredible ceiling connects the front public part of the apartment to the back more private. I’m standing in what will be a hallway that will enter bedrooms on this side. The primary suite is to my left. I am always trying to get a barrel ceiling in every project that we do and when I came in and saw that there was one already here that I didn’t have to introduce, it was magic. The entire north side of the apartment was previously the maid’s wing. It was a space that was completely chopped up and dark but the funny thing about architecture is that you can feel really good in this space and feel that there’s some potential but still have no idea what the project is going to look like. Sketching is what sort of brings it all together. You have something up here but it until it comes out of your hand. It’s impossible to say what the project is going to look like. I’m pleased to say that we have four bedrooms, four good bedrooms. As is typical of buildings like this, every bathroom is ensuite so, there wasn’t any kind of public bathroom or hallway bathroom. So, it was really important to her that we got a powder room. I’m pleased to say with some clever planning and some reworking of the plan in a way that I can’t  even believe it worked. We’re able to achieve that for her.

This is going to be an office for our client, who occasionally works from home but we have this beautiful hard stock doors that he was really committed to keeping. He was also really committed to keeping some existing cabinetry. As much as we tried, it just made a whole lot more sense to say, let’s just start new and get the sort of storage needs and television and things in there that we needed. It’ll also give us an opportunity to get rid of these “built-in speakers” back in the old days. These are the backsides of speakers that were actually wired to give sound into the living room space and you think to yourself like who would ever do this and here it is.

We’re completely reimagining their dressing and their closet area to give them not a vintage size bathroom which is what they have right now. There’s a lot of the existing character intact and the question is, how much of it do we keep and how much of it do we take away and we’ve decided to keep all of the plaster crown everywhere because it’s beautiful. We’ve made the decision in some places that we’re going to be taking off the applied panel molding in spaces where it doesn’t make sense or it feels too fussy.

Goal at the end is just to paint everything out doing trim and the walls the same color so we end up with a more sort of serene space back here.