On the surface, Chicago appears a sleekly tailored city, living on a smartly organized grid and compartmentalized into units. Upon exploration, the city reveals a diverse mix of destinations, weaving unexpected delight within the city’s tapestry, richly influenced by its vibrant theatre scene. This juxtaposition served as the concept for the new Cambria Hotel & Suites Chicago Loop – Theatre District above the historic Oriental Theatre. The team was charged with creating an experience that seamlessly guides and transports the guest from the busy streetscape of Downtown Chicago to Cambria’s signature Welcome Lobby on the 9th floor of the building and into the well-appointed guestrooms.
As the guest walks through the newly added floor-to-ceiling glass entry, they experience a branded graphic wallcovering that doubles as an artful welcome to the property. Custom-designed by the interior design team, the motif of the wallcovering is based on the “Chicago’s Tapestry” design concept, repeated in different configurations throughout the public and private spaces of the hotel. Superimposed over monochromatic renditions of the lushly-detailed Oriental Theatre, the mapped grid of the city provides an abstract order and contextualizes the hotel’s location within the city. Branded with the recognizable Cambria Hotel and Suites logo, this wallcovering is scaled to be clearly visible from the street to welcome hotel guests, restaurant and bar patrons alike.
As an historic renovation project of a 1926 building, the design team worked with the Architect of Record in addition to the General Contractor to salvage as many historic details as possible, including the original brass elevator doors prominently featured in the Elevator Lobby. This historical nod, paired with relaxed seating vignettes, create resting points for travelers and demark the entry to the hotel’s atmosphere.
Once the guest arrives at the 9th floor landing, a challenge presented itself: what environmental cues guide them to the main Welcome Lobby, as well as the hotel’s Bar and Restaurant? To solve this quandary the firm designed an entry portal featuring an angled wood slat wall with a seating vignette, creating a subliminal arrow for the guest without relying on obtrusive signage. At the capstone, an art piece consisting of “Instagram moments” promotes the exploration of Chicago. From the deep-dish pizza scene, to images of Millennium Park and “The Bean,” neon signs and fish eye architectural shots round out the art package. However, to stay current with the ever-changing trends of Chicago, the piece was designed modularly to be easily updatable by the hotel staff.
At this moment, the lobby opens and the guest is surrounded by the warm and inviting atmosphere to reflect Cambria’s moniker “Where everybody is somebody.” To connect back to the first floor, an engraved backlit art piece frames the welcome desk, playing with the juxtaposition of theater imagery and the grid of Chicago. The Welcome Lobby features multiple zones where guests and bar/restaurant patrons alike can plug-in and relax. The seating was designed to be fluid with flexible furniture arrangements accommodating solo computer work, a large social gathering or a quick rest during check-in/check-out.
To create this warm & inviting atmosphere, material selections were based on brand standards, but varied to reflect the location of the property in the heart of Chicago. A harmonious and neutral backdrop paired with artisanal textures, the soft palette of warm greys and deep blues are accented by jewel purples and copper featuring mixed metals of forged iron and polished nickel. The goal was to create a palette with a sense of warmth and elevated comfort. A wood floor (porcelain per brand standards) was integrated to compliment the texture in the fabrics and a ventless gas fireplace is a feature element of the lounge seating zone.
In addition to seating zones, multiple Food and Beverage options are presented within the Welcome Lobby including the Grab-and-Go Market, with a clean white subway tile, as well as a full Restaurant Concept. A coffee house during the day and a gastropub at night, the Restaurant is seamlessly integrated into the lobby with varied seating including a large communal table and stained concrete countertop at the bar. To round out the guest’s experience, additional Public Spaces include three large meeting rooms with operable walls, pre-function space, private board room and game room – all of which are utilized as profit generators for the hotel and are easily accessible for touring companies performing at the Oriental Theatre downstairs.
Perhaps the most striking element of the Welcome Lobby is the extraordinary historic ceiling that was uncovered beneath existing acoustical ceiling during demolition. Much needed plaster reconstruction and additional trim was added to make the ceiling as beautiful as it once was. A seamless restoration allows for the ceiling to feel as if it had never been hidden. A dark neutral paint color was specified to accentuate details of the ceiling through light and shadows. The statement light fixtures served as a callback to the circular aspects of the ceiling extruded. As additional lighting could not be added to the historic ceiling, creative lighting solutions were incorporated in the form of sconces and library style table lamps.
The guestrooms and suites mirror this experience, welcoming guests with modern and fresh accommodations. A dedicated workspace with ergonomic chair and desk were integrated into the space along with a soft seating vignette to accommodate both the work and pleasure traveler. Custom graphic wallcovering was designed and developed featuring vintage maps of the city of Chicago with a 'floating' platform bed hovering below.
An experience in discovery, the “Chicago Tapestry” represents Chicago’s interweaving cultures, history, and structure. Through the custom designed graphics, artwork, finish selections & historical elements, a lobby experience where any type of traveler can discover Chicago was created. Whether a busy corporate traveler needing a place to power up or a relaxed traveler looking to reflect after a day of discovery, all the opportunities are afforded in the lobby’s design.