Early next month, the W Chicago - City Center will officially unveil the first phase of its latest renovation.
Combining the energy of the ultra-modern downtown Chicago Loop with the classic vibe of the landmarked 1928 Beaux Arts building, the updated hotel will introduce an all-new lobby and restaurant, the Midland Social Club, named after the building’s original use as The Midland Club (a private gentleman’s club).
The design highlights historic touchpoints to illustrate the hotel’s early Chicago ties while speaking to the diverse cultural neighborhoods of the Windy City.
“With this renovation, we set out to disrupt the norm while staying true to Chicago’s history,” Brendan Tsukiyama, the hotel's GM, said in a statement. “Our twist on the narrative will provide guests with the VIP experience in Chicago, unlike anything they’ve ever seen before.”
“We’re proud to be one of the only W properties in a historic building, and we wanted to make the most of that with this redesign,” marketing manager Matthew Leavis said during a preview of the renovation for local press.
While reflecting the Second City’s ties to architectural design and cultural history, the entry into the hotel pays homage to The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 with dramatic, charred wood walls, glowing sconces and a suspended gold bucket, a nod to Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, which was said to have started the fire. The up-lit infinity ceiling was inspired by the rapid growth of Chicago. The check-in area stands to the left of the entrance with redesigned front desks inspired by the sculptural public art of the Loop and the Millennium Park Pedestrian Bridge.
Adjacent to check-in, a two-story bar alludes to the hotel’s history with the infamous gangster Al Capone. This entry into the new Midland Social Club has a suspended display of more than 60 bottles of Templeton Rye (reportedly Capone’s favorite), taking shape in the form of a reimagined version of Chicago’s iconic Municipal Device.
A glass DJ stand will have a movable lit partition wall that doubles as a projection screen. The Plateau, the second-floor seating area, offers top views of the spaces below, which can turn into various designs including a loop-inspired shape on the bar when looked down upon to connect back to the city’s famed transit system, the “L.”
The dining area of the Midland Social Club was recreated to evoke the high energy and ebullience of the Chicago streets with graffiti art commissioned from Chicago street artists.
This is the second renovation (and the first in nearly a decade) since the hotel opened in 2001. The second phase of this remodel will focus on the 403 guestrooms, but the property has not yet announced a timeline for that project.