Historic Hotel Renovation

The historic renovation and restoration of the Chicago Athletic Association building resulted in a new boutique hotel on Michigan Avenue across from Millennium Park. After remaining vacant for several years, the project converted the 225,000-sf, 122-year-old property into 241 guest-rooms, restaurants, banquet and meeting areas, a new rooftop bar as well as other guest amenities. After a facility assessment proved the existing systems to be beyond their useful lifetime for the new use, the project team engaged in an accelerated permit and construction phase to maintain the owner’s aggressive schedule. The general contractor was selected early to work with the design team to provide pricing and input during the design phase, given the complications of the tight urban site and constructibility issues within the historic space. Collaboration was key to providing the deliverables on time.

IMEG’s design solved many of the project’s challenges, including:

  • Historic constraints for placement of systems. Creative solutions were developed to incorporate modern technology and systems into the building.
  • Five kitchens and ancillary food and beverage spaces for ballrooms, event spaces and other 3rd party operators. The team successfully routed utilities through floors with limited clearances while maintaining the proper guest experience and historical atmosphere within the space.
  • Providing a high level of comfort for guests and energy efficiency for the owner. Central chilled and hot water systems were chosen to feed the entire building.
  • Electrical loads. Detailed coordination with Commonwealth Edison allowed the owner to save significant project cost and usable space by not building a new utility vault within the building.
  • Unforeseen conditions. The team was highly responsive in reacting to conditions discovered during the demolition and restoration phase in order to keep the project on schedule.
  • Undesirable operation of cooling tower system during winter months. A separate condenser water system — which also serves the year-round refrigeration needs of the food service/bar locations, MDF room and other spaces with year-round cooling needs — is also designed to reject heat for domestic water preheat and combustion air preheat during cold weather. This saves energy cost and maintenance cost relating to cooling tower operation.
  • Noise and vibration isolation of guest rooms from the ball courts, bowling alley, bars and mechanical sources, and achieving good architectural acoustics within the two ballrooms using historically correct finishes. This was accomplished with IMEG’s experience in historically-correct acoustic renovations and an extensive use of acoustic computer modeling and simulation.

Awards Include:

  • ENR Midwest 2016 Project of the Year 
  • BD+C 2016 Platinum Reconstruction Award 
  • Gold Key Award – Best Hotel Upscale, Boutique Design Magazine
  • Distinguished Building Award – AIA Chicago
  • Preservation Award for Rehabilitation – Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
  • Comprehensive Redevelopment of the Year 2016 – Chicago Commercial Real Estate Awards
  • Best Plaster Project – 2015 BAC Craft Award, International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers
  • James Beard Award for Best Restaurant Design (Finalist 76+ seats) – Cherry Circle Room
  • CBC Merit Awards: Rehab Construction – Chicago Building Congress
  • ULI Chicago Vision Award – Historic Preservation
  • HD Award – Public Spaces (Lifestyle), Hospitality Design Magazine
Chicago Athletic Association Hotel
Chicago, IL
Services Provided

Acoustics, Commissioning, Electrical, Fire Protection/Detection, Mechanical, Audio/Visual