Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chicago's Miami Beach -- The Fantastical Granville Tower

Since I moved back to Chicago, I've become fascinated with North Sheridan Road, especially the section between Hollywood Avenue (5700 North) and where it turns west (6400 North) in Edgewater. This almost mile-long stretch reminds me of the best and worst of "Condo Canyon" in Miami Beach (the ten blocks of Collins Avenue south of 63 Street): Residential high-rises of varying degrees of whimsy, on a car-centric street, with a squandered waterfront. Let's look at the first part -- Some of these buildings have a high level of good-natured humour, if not outright beauty.

My favorite is a building that a friend and I refer to as "The Sert" because it reminds us of the work of Josep Lluis Sert on Roosevelt Island in New York City (see second photo from the top). This building is the Granville Tower (6166 N. Sheridan Road), designed by Seymour S. Goldstein and completed in 1966.

The Granville Tower is initially notable for two related reasons: Its unique and alternating floor plans, which correspond to the all-duplex apartments within
(see top photo). The lower level of each south- and north-facing duplex is cantilevered and angled towards (potential) views of Lake Michigan (see approximation of the floor plan). The upper (bedroom) level's facade is more traditional in its orientation. On the east and west facades, bays (lower level) alternate with (almost) flat facades (upper level) (see third photo).

Socially, the Granville Tower has piqued my interest. It
has ties to South Shore, a neighborhood about as far south of downtown as Sheridan Road in Edgewater is to the north. The Granville Tower's rental agent was Harry A. Zisook & Sons, with offices at 1711 E. 71 Street in South Shore. In the 1960s, South Shore changed from a virtually all-white neighborhood to a virtually all-black one. Was the Granville Tower a destination for white people leaving South Shore?

For answers to this and other questions (i.e. What is Harry A. Zisook & Sons? Who is the architect, Seymour S. Goldstein? What are the stories of the other buildings in Chicago's Miami Beach?), stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. These are some really lovely buildings in a distinctive Chicago-meets-World style. I look forward to more postings on the area. Go inside!!