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Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture

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Chicago Athletic Association


  • General Contractor: Bulley & Andrews

Project Status



235,300 sq. feet
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Project Description


A stunning example of Venetian Gothic architecture, the Chicago Athletic Association building was designed by Henry Ives Cobb circa 1893 as a private athletic club. An icon along the landmarked Michigan Avenue streetwall, the project was vacated in 2007 and threatened with demolition. In transforming the historic building into a 241-key boutique hotel, extraordinary care was taken to preserve the building’s design legacy while creating a contemporary hospitality environment.

Over the years, the main Michigan Avenue elevation was augmented by an L-shaped Madison Street annex and a series of floor additions and renovations. Significant effort was made to connect floors that did not connect or were offset by as much as five feet. A common design language, using color, texture and millwork, was created to stylistically unify interior spaces dating from the 1890’s to the 1950’s.

The extensive rehabilitation included restoring 18,000 square feet of ornamental plaster, 32,000 square feet of historic wall paneling and bas relief, and the white ceiling “stalactites” in the White City Ballroom.

A new glass-enclosed rooftop deck sits on a “floating” deck supported by cantilevered trusses and reinforced columns at the building’s core. The high-performance building features entirely new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

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