Chicago landmarks become new design hotels

Tuesday 31st May, 2016
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In a city known for its amazing architectural legacy, this trend merges new hotels with historically significant Chicago buildings. Being renovated into boutique luxury accommodation in order to preserve their momentous features, they are offering visitors a unique experience with every stay. And they are helping to put Chicago on the map as a go-to place for classic and contemporary design and architecture.

Recent renovations include London House Hotel (pictured) Located at close proximity to the Chicago River, LondonHouse Hotel is a combined restoration and redevelopment of the London Guarantee Building. Its name comes from the tower’s original 1923 owner: the London Guaranty & Accident insurance company, as well as the London House jazz club that once occupied the building’s ground floor, and hosted jazz luminaries such as Bill Evans and Nancy Wilson.

Kimpton Gray Hotel situated at the heart of Chicago’s Central Loop neighbourhood, Kimpton Gray Hotel has taken over one of Chicago’s most threatened historic structures, previously known as the New York Life Insurance Building. The 14-story landmark was constructed in 1893 by architect William Le Baron Jenny. He is one of the founders of the Chicago School of Architecture and known to be the father of American skyscrapers, constructing what is considered the first ever more than 130 years ago. The 281 room hotel ensures the future of the New York Life Insurance building is secure.

The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel (pictured) The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel building is a landmark that once housed a private sporting club for the city’s elite. It is located on the fashionable Michigan Avenue in the city’s famed Loop District. Erected in 1893, the Venetian Gothic-style structure, opposite Millennium Park, is a jewel of Chicago. The hotel provides 241 luxury rooms and is home to one of Chicago’s trendiest rooftop restaurants and open-air terrace with panoramic views of Millennium Park, the Art Institute, Lake Michigan, and beyond.

In addition to this new contemporary design trend, the wider state of Illinois offers a wealth of must see historic and classical architecture:

1. Chicago Architecture Foundation, which serves more than 500,000 people each year through tours, exhibitions, educational programs and more. 2. Architectural tours via River Cruise, seqway, bus or walking. A modern favourite on the architecture tours is 333 West Wacker. The green glass structure was featured in the cult American film, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. 3. Willis Tower . It's 1,353 ft. / 412 metres up to the highest building observation deck in North America the Skydeck Observatory. The glass Ledge boxes extend 4.3 ft. / 1.3 metres from the Tower itself and are able to retract into the building for cleaning and maintenance. 4. John Hancock Centre. Best known for the 94th-floor observatory Chicago 360, where you’ll find Tilt, the cool feature that tips you out 1,000 ft. / 305 metres above the city. 5. Chicago Water Tower. The Water Tower and nearby pumping station were the only two buildings in downtown Chicago that survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1781. The tower reaches a height of 154 feet or 47 meters and towered over all the neighbouring buildings. Today it is dwarfed by the many skyscrapers surrounding the tower. 6. Wrigley Building. When the Wrigley Building first opened there was an observatory above the 26th floor in the Clock Tower; admission was 5 cents and included a piece of Wrigley gum 7. Tribune Tower. The exterior of the base features embedded stones from locations around the world including, London’s Houses of Parliament, the Alamo, the Great Wall of China and the World Trade Centre 8. Chicago Cultural Centre. After the Great Chicago Fire decimated the city’s public reading room, England donated 8,000 books to the city, necessitating the construction of a building to hold them 9. Merchandise Mart - The largest commercial building in the world, this Art Deco gem originally housed Marshall Field’s wholesale store. The Mart was used as government offices during World War II until Joseph P. Kennedy bought the building and restored it

Further afield:

Bahá'í House of Worship Designed by Louis Bourgeois and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Bahá'í House of Worship is considered one of Illinois’ seven wonders. This sacred space, located in Wilmette, Illinois, is the oldest surviving Bahá'í House of Worship in the world, and the only one in the United States. This House of Worship was built and is maintained by voluntary contributions from members of the Bahá’í Faith. It is a gift for all people to use for personal prayer and meditation.

Frank Lloyd Wright Located in Oak Park, Frank Lloyd Wright used his first home to experiment with design concepts that contain the seeds of his architectural philosophy. In his adjacent studio, Wright and his associates developed a new American architecture - the Prairie style. When visiting, trained interpreters offer insights into Wright's family life and architectural career. Oak Park features the largest collection of Wright-designed buildings in the world.

Visitors can fly direct from the UK to Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) with airlines including Virgin Atlantic from £772 return.

Homepage Image: The London House Hotel

Rotating images: Athletics Association Hotel (Lounge), photography: Clayton Hauck.   Chicago Athletics Association Hotel(exterior) and interior CGI graphic of London House Hotel.