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A New Crop of Neighborhood-Centric Hotels Makes Waves in Chicago

Alicia Hoisington • Photos by Nathan Kirman, David Mitchell, and Anthony Tahlier •
March 5, 2019

Photos: Recent Projects

With a city as vibrant and architecturally rich as Chicago, it’s no wonder developers, and visitors, continue to take notice. In 2017, total visitation topped 55.3 million, an increase of 2.7 percent over the previous record the year prior. This is credited to a handful of new lifestyle properties, including the Ace Hotel Chicago and the Wheelhouse Hotel, which will be joined by the Hoxton when it debuts in the Fulton Market neighborhood this spring. With 19 hotels under construction (and an additional 49 in planning) according to Lodging Econometrics, a new crop of concepts strives to not only tell their own stories, but also those of the greats who lived and made waves in the historic city.

Sophy Hyde Park New York firm Stonehill Taylor “dove into the city’s cultural characteristics, industrial makeup, and famous personalities” for the design of luxury hotel Sophy Hyde Park, explains interiors associate Nikoletta Stagias (local firm GREC is the architect for the sustainably designed project from Smart Hotels and Olympia Companies). This influence can be seen in the lobby’s 1,000-pound light fixture of twisted metal inspired by gospel singer Mahalia Jackson and the lobby restaurant. Reminiscent of a library, it reflects the neighborhood’s famous literary figures, such as Saul Bellow, Carl Sandburg, Ralph Ellison, and James Tiptree Jr. Awash in hues of blue, yellow, and red, the vibrant interiors are balanced by a warm palette via white and brown tones, wood paneling, and painted trimwork, which continue in the 98 guestrooms where a statement-making felt art piece sits behind the headboard. In fact, the charming aesthetic is rounded out by an art program with pieces made by local artists.

Hotel Zachary Paying tribute to Wrigley Field right across the street, Hotel Zachary is “like the city itself,” says Studio K founder Karen Herold, “warm and inviting with a respect for history.” Stantec handled the 173 guestrooms, which nod to the neighborhood, while Studio K created a community space that honors the man that inspired the hotel, the ballpark’s original architect, Zachary Taylor Davis. Notable is the eye-catching mural of his original sketch of Wrigley Field, which was redrawn by a local artist, custom printed on tiles, and arranged across the lounge’s wall. More Davis-informed moments include the fireplace room, echoing his office, and Alma restaurant, which is dedicated to his wife’s love of entertaining. Two portraits of the couple—recreations of original photos that once hung in the pair’s home—welcome guests as they head up a staircase to the second-floor lobby, inviting them to stay awhile. “It’s a trailblazing building,” confirms senior designer Alicia Kelly, “that has set the tone for the influx of properties converging on the area and making it what it is today.”

St. Jane Hotel Like the hotel’s namesake, Chicago activist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Jane Addams, the St. Jane Hotel—a collaboration between local firm Simeone Deary Design Group, Becker Ventures, and Aparium Hotel Group—is a beacon in its community. Housed inside the iconic Carbon and Carbide building with its exterior of deep green monolithic marble and bright, brassy architectural metal accents, the local firm juxtaposed the structure’s masculine architecture with a more feminine feel inside. Those choices, says firm co-owner Lisa Simeone, help support the “Jane attitude and cultural ethos” in a design that had to be concepted and completed in less than a year, in a landmarked building being repositioned from branded to boutique. But there is no evidence of such a rushed timetable. The residential foyer-like entryway is furnished with a vintage-veined fireplace and crowded bookshelves. Blackened moresque walls contrast jewel-toned furniture that sit on an angular bespoke multicolored marble chevron floor. Meanwhile, in the hotel’s 365 guestrooms, black and white herringbone floors and bright white walls create a backdrop to a softer palette of blush, heather gray, and champagne hues.