This may be the drawing room that becomes a new living room space for hotel guests
We can’t fathom a better design team for the CAA. And that may be because we are among a rare few who have seen the inside of this monolith 225,000-square-foot building, oozing with outstanding bones and a craftsmanship you don’t often see anymore. Originally built in 1893 by Henry Cobb, the CAA is considered one of the best examples of Venetian gothic architecture in the United States. It housed one of the most exclusive men's clubs in the country up until 2007, when it closed its doors. Standefer and Alesch are as excited as we are, saying the building "exudes an air of a faded glamour, but has architectural bones that are beyond reproach. We don't hesitate to describe it as one of the most beautiful and highly detailed buildings we've ever been in."
As if the bare bones (see photos) were not enough to get our hearts pumping, we can’t imagine what the place will look like when Roman and Williams are done with it. Still, we do have a few details on their plans. The firm will be converting the existing gym and running track into a large ballroom, designing a large greenhouse structure on the roof, converting the second-floor drawing room into a "living room for a new generation," and creating a sports room/pool hall/bar that pays homage to the building's heritage as a men's club. There will also be plenty of food and beverage options.
Even by flashlight tour, the potential of this architectural gem is obvious
“Our reverence for this monumental building cannot be overstated,” said the pair, “but we want to breathe a new life into it, to care for it without treating it like a relic." Right on.
Best known for their work in New York, the CAA project marks Roman and Williams first foray in Chicago; we expect it will not be their last. Given Chicago’s momentum these days as a major booming hotel destination—with the tourism numbers to match—it all feels like a turning point and perhaps the start of trend. Will Chicago hotels continue to up the ante and bring even better design than ever before? We are almost betting on it. Does it mean Chicago is tracking in the direction of New York hotels? Could be.
[Photos: Nina K. Hahn for HotelChatter]