Chicago landmark transformed into dual-branded Hyatt hotel

by | 15 Aug 2020 | Projects, Refurbishments

The Cook County Hospital’s facade encompasses more than 4,000 pieces of restored and duplicated terra cotta

One of Chicago’s largest contractors, Walsh Construction, has completed the rehabilitation of the city’s 104-year-old Cook County Hospital, paving the way for new hotels to open under the Hyatt House and Hyatt Place brands.

Following a historic restoration by Walsh Construction, the former hospital and Chicago landmark is now entering a bold new chapter. We take a look at this impressive regeneration project.

The beginning of a new micro-neighbourhood

This major renovation represents the first phase and anchor for Harrison Square, a new micro-neighbourhood that will offer residential, office, hotel and retail space in the area surrounding the erstwhile hospital within the Illinois Medical District.

Cook County Hospital, which covers 345,000 sq ft, was decommissioned in 2002 and had remained vacant for more than 15 years, raising concerns among preservationists and historians that the spectacular Beaux Arts building would ultimately be demolished. This development, which was announced in 2018, brings a new lease of life to the landmark and its surroundings with the realisation of a 210-room dual-branded Hyatt House and Hyatt Place hotel, along with the 10,000 sq ft Dr Murphy’s Food Hall.

Architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill designed the project to incorporate features highlighting the building’s long history. As a result, the original terrazzo flooring was completely refurbished and the intricate interior mouldings were meticulously repaired. On the exterior of the building, masons recreated the historic US$18 million facade, requiring more than 4,160 pieces of terra cotta to be repaired or duplicated by the American terra cotta manufacturer Gladding, McBean.

Built for the community

“The old Cook County Hospital is rich in history, having served our community and nation for over a century, while at the same time being a fountain for medical research, innovation and advancements,” said Dan Walsh, co-chairman of Walsh Construction. “The Walsh Group is proud to have played a leading role in saving and transforming this unique historic structure; and delivering a reborn building that welcomes visitors and economic revival to the Near West Side of Chicago for another 100 years.”

In partnership with Cook County Government, Walsh Construction organised multiple outreach events to discuss the project and involve the local trade and contracting community.

“This project is based upon community revival and opportunity for the local workforce and the Near West Side community,” said Jeff Pezza, vice president at Walsh Construction. “A tremendous amount of gratitude must be given to our dedicated project team who helped champion this project across Chicago.”