Program: A 17-story, 188,600-square-foot hotel with 285 guest rooms and suites, meeting and banquet rooms, a library with a bar, a screening room, a sun room, and a restaurant. The project is a renovation of the Ambassador East, a hotel built in 1926 in Chicago's residential Gold Coast neighborhood. Ian Schrager and his team revived the original hotel's famous restaurant and celebrity hotspot, the Pump Room, acting as both client and designer.
Design concept and solution: The design team retained the brick exterior and many of the Beaux Arts hotel's interior embellishments, but wanted to tone down the grandeur of the old Ambassador East and strike a less fussy, more eclectic balance. The strategy: keep the texture of the moldings and gingerbread details but paint them neutral colors so that they register as textures rather than design elements. True to the Schrager tradition of the lobby as social hub, PUBLIC's lobby is called the living room, and is decorated like one, with low coffee tables, lamp lighting, curated "possessions," and unassuming sofas. The made-over Pump Room, on the other hand, is PUBLIC's contemporary tribute to the glamour of the original restaurant's heyday. The Schrager team started with only the footprint of the old restaurant and built it from scratch. Soft-looking gold-leaf walls bookend the room, bouncing warm light, while a sunken central space features half-round banquettes recalling the old Pump Room's round booths. The room is lit by an installation of cast-resin orbs of varying sizes hanging from the ceiling at different heights, like a celestial interpretation of chandeliers. The team's approach to the guest rooms emphasized simplicity and comfort, with ample shelf space and a palette of pale wood and white elements (such as silk curtains and bleached oak wall paneling), plus blackened steel desks and lamps for accents.
Location: 1301 N State Parkway
Completion Date: September 2011
Owner: Ian Schrager and iStar Financial
Ian Schrager Company
818 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10014
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Architect of record: Anderson/Miller LTD
Interior designer: Ian Schrager Company
General contractor: Pepper Construction
Photographer: © PUBLIC Chicago