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On Top of the Worldby Diana Tychsen | Men's Book Chicago magazine | March 15, 2012
Oprah, you’re about to be trumped. The 14,000-square-foot, six-bedroom, eight-bathroom, top-floor penthouse in Trump Tower has everyone waiting with bated breath to see who will move in. And with a cool $30 million price tag, it clearly won’t be an average Joe. The property is so over-the-top that even Oprah’s famous Water Tower Place compound, often pegged as an icon of downtown residential excess, pales in comparison.
“It’s the only unit in Chicago that offers these views,” says Sara Martens, executive director for the Trump Organization.
That declaration is a solid candidate for understatement of the year. The glass-castle penthouse, with 16-foot floor-to-ceiling windows, takes up the tower’s entire 89th floor, offering 360-degree views of the city, and far beyond, that are, in a word, astounding.
With the price tag being what it is, the largely raw space is being sold as-is. At the moment, drywall partitions off each of the bedrooms, bathrooms, living, kitchen and dining areas, and the plumbing and electric are fully rigged. Beyond that the penthouse is a blank slate, as anyone who can afford it will certainly have their own plans to make it exactly as they want.
The only real limitation on the penthouse is the shape of the building itself, and one can hardly call that a limitation. Architect Adrian Smith, who was born in Chicago and graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago, designed Trump Tower while still employed at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, but left mid-project to start Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture with his former colleague. According to Smith, the three major setbacks featured in the building’s exterior form are designed to provide “visual continuity with the surrounding skyline” by lining up the height of each setback with nearby architectural landmarks: The first aligns with the cornice of the Wrigley Building; the second with Marina Towers; and the third, directly above the penthouse, with Mies van der Rohe’s IBM plaza.
Of course, at Trump Tower, you’re not just buying a residence, but a way of life. “It’s a luxury lifestyle, and you get used to it very fast,” says Martens. Residents of the tower enjoy perks such as enviable proximity to glam restaurant Sixteen, direct access to one of Chicago’s best spas and gyms, and concierge services. They can relax with a drink at Rebar or, when it’s warm, on the Terrace, both of which offer amazing views.
Almost as fascinating a question as to who will move into the iconic property is how said owner will build out the space. Will it be a sleek bachelor pad? A family-friendly abode? An east-meets-west urban retreat for empty-nesters?
Chicago-based interior designer John Robert Wiltgen has outfitted the penthouse for several potential buyers, and has made the most out of its chameleon capabilities. His schemes have included such luxurious touches as a wine cellar, clubroom billiards and blackjack tables, decorative fountains in the foyer and a maid’s quarters.
“When money is no object, who wouldn’t want to have the most spectacular view and most amazing space?” says Wiltgen. “People buy private planes and yachts and paintings for hundreds of millions. It makes the Trump penthouse look like a deal.”
A deal to some—yes—but to most, a very sweet pie in the sky.