CHICAGO (June 1, 2015) – Set against the dramatic skyline on the banks of the Chicago River, Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel unveiled its much-buzzed-about $27 million lobby and guestroom transformation last month. The 560-room hotel was designed by Chicago-based The Gettys Group. The firm was brought into this project from the outset to leverage their past knowledge of the property and completely re-imagine the guest experience while at the same time incorporating the enhanced Renaissance brand pillars. With the completion of the renovations to the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel’s guest rooms, suites, and lobby area, The Gettys Group team now shifts its focus to the hotel’s third floor new ballroom and destination roof-top bar & lounge, scheduled to be completed in Spring 2016.
Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel, owned by Carey Watermark Investors (CWI), represents an evolved direction for the Renaissance brand. The Gettys Group worked closely with CWI’s CEO & Director, Michael Medzigian & George Gudgeon, Senior Vice President, alongside the Renaissance brand’s team to ensure that the project would serve as a signal for the updated direction of the brand. “The collaborative nature of The Gettys Group has really proven to demonstrate the value of great design to further improve our ROI on this project. The culmination of the design team’s collaborative process, which included ownership, the brand, the operating team, and purchasing produced this exceptional product,” said CWI’s George Gudgeon.
“We were fortunate to work with a fantastic client that was on board with our ambitious vision for this grand hotel,” said Chris McDonough, Senior Design Director at The Gettys Group. “Through the design and implementation process, we have created a space that not only captures the essence of this unique Chicago site, but also becomes a flagship property that serves as a road map for the future of the Renaissance brand.”
Reflecting the enhanced Renaissance brand tenants and evolution of their design strategy, the new Renaissance Chicago design vision focuses on millennials and hotel guest’s desire to stay connected in all ways in all spaces. The Gettys Group team set out to engage with locals passing through the lobby, which now encourages hotel guests and visitors to socialize over drinks, coffee, or light bites. Unique “pockets” welcome exploration and discovery including – VIP Club Lounge, Artist Studio, Staytion, Coffee Bar and Library. Context-inspired details, such as the “hidden” Y elements and the bar caricatures and ceiling names, draw the guest in and create a true interaction with the environment.
Art played a major role in the lobby’s design, with transportation as the central theme. CTA bus-inspired windows from the early 1950’s serve as a gateway into the Chef’s display kitchen at Staytion; wallpaper and elevator lobby artwork illustrate the Chicago “L” map, immersing guests in the heart of the city’s transportation system; life-size photos and sculptures boast embedded elements allowing people to become a physical part of the artwork themselves; a multi-dimensional mural of pencils depicting a city cab and more. Even the lobby pillars are works of art, each featuring a different part of a city train, which blend together harmoniously to form one single image from certain perspectives.
The renovations to the 520 guest rooms and 40 suites accommodate the changing travel habits of millennial business travellers. The guest room design features a palette of cool greys and tan tones, with accents of deep blue and vibrant yellows. The rooms were updated with new sectional sofa lounging areas and brightly illuminated bathrooms. Each guest room also incorporates a “discoverable moment” – a collage artwork and small sculptures that render distinct elements of Chicago city life and remind guests of their sense of place within the Chicago metropolis. In the hotels suites, the team revamped the original layout to incorporate zones that accommodate various activities like lounging, working, and dining. The team took a tongue-in-cheek approach to the redesign of the suites, adding signature features like round pool tables to create a more residential feel.