The Art of Blu

The impetus behind a new app for the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago appears to be to talk about the hotel. It's in the title: "The Art of Blu." Launched in December, the mobile and tablet app, created by the company Tristan of the Espro Acoustiguide Group, is an audio tour of the building—the Aqua Tower designed by Chicago architect Jeanne Gang, FAIA—as well as the hotel's interior design and its art collection.

In one of the opening segments, the female narrator turns it over to Gang to briefly describe her design: "So we came up with the idea of creating kind of a typography on the outside of the building, making the building into a landscape that would allow you to get out and around. It's a very simple and elegant design, it really is just concrete and glass but the benefit is that the creation of these floor plates allows for very generous outdoor spaces." Another segment focuses on the interiors by Scottish designer Jim Hamilton.

But "The Art of Blu" is also a mini Chicago history lesson. Seven of the 17 sections on the audio tour describe photographs by the late street photographer Vivian Maier, on display in the hotel's lobby. The tour contains short videos on these photographs, and heavily feature Richard Cahan, an author who has written books on Maier. Cahan reflects on how Chicago has changed since Maier took these shots, which include places like the Clark Street Theatre (since torn down) to the now-closed Woolworth's store on State Street. In the little videos, Cahan returns to the sites to show the differences between the photographs and today.

I'd be curious to see what hotel guests do after going on the tour. Will tourists head to some of these lesser known landmarks rather than to The Bean for a selfie?

[h/t The New York Times]