Restoring the Chicago Athletic Association
The Chicago Athletic Association Building has been transformed from an abandoned landmark to a first-class Chicago hotel.
For more than a century, Chicagoans wandered past 12 S. Michigan Avenue, wondering what hid behind that Venetian Gothic facade. But they need wonder no more. The grand opening of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel will be the first time this historic gem is open to the public. After an extensive two-year restoration project, visitors are being invited inside.
Henry Ives Cobb, a founding member of the club, designed the Chicago Athletic Association Building, which was completed in 1893. His design included ornate millwork, marble and mosaic tile floors, elaborate plasterwork and custom stained-glass windows. It was home to the exclusive, members-only club for more than 100 years. But when the club disbanded in 2007, the building soon found itself on Preservation Chicago and Landmarks Illinois' annual endangered buildings lists.
Recognizing its architectural and historical significance, AJ Capital Partners, Geolo Capital, Agman Partners, Commune Hotels & Resorts and Chicago-based Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture worked in partnership to return the building to its original splendor. With the help of the interior design firm Roman and Williams, they ensured the architect’s original vision was respected while keeping in mind the needs of a modern hotel.
“We knew local hands built this place, and we wanted local hands to restore it,” explained Hotel General Manager Patrick Hatton. Local artisans and craftsman revived, recreated and renewed many of the original design details. The project created 1,400 local jobs, and the hotel will permanently employ at least 500 more.
The 241-room hotel celebrated its grand opening in May of 2015. Its various restaurants and bars—including Cindy's, whose rooftop space overlooks Millennium Park, and Game Room, where guests can play bocce ball and an assortment of table games—are sure to keep visitors and Chicago locals entertained and nourished for the foreseeable future.