Combining luxury hotel and residential design, Loews North Park Drive exemplifies a new, urban mixed-use experience

by | Jan 27, 2017 | Experts

As major cities continue to densify and desirable real estate parcels in urban centers are increasingly scarce, hotel designs are departing from the traditional business model. To leverage the amenities, services, and activities of a full-service luxury hotel, developers are augmenting their programs by incorporating residential components into their hotel developments. Working with architecture firms that have expertise in large-scale, mixed-use design, where the quality of the user experience is equal to the quality of the architectural design, can offer a distinct advantage to the developers of such complex projects.

In Chicago, Loews North Park Drive is a 49-story mixed-use development that combines a 400-key hotel (guest rooms are located on floors four through 14) and 398 luxury apartments (housed on floors 15 through 49); the hotel lobby, pre-function areas, ballrooms, retail, dining, and hotel back-of-house occupy and anchor the ground level, and floors two and three contain hotel administration and fitness center facilities. At Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB), we drew upon our extensive experience in high-rise residential and hotel design to create a solution that responded to the needs of both the hotel and residential components of the project and that ultimately benefited our clients, their customers, and the city.

Loews presented SCB with an extensive program for the 4-star, full-service, business-class hotel for both the front- and back-of-house; it demanded special consideration for public and service operations. By organizing the hotel for optimum functionality, we were able to arrange the public spaces along the major street frontage to actively engage with the surrounding neighborhood. The hotel’s two-story lobby, ballroom pre-function spaces, and restaurant are set around a gracious motor court drop-off area, allowing for dedicated entries for each of these areas. A separate and distinct entry for the residential tower is located at the north end of the site. The roof above the hotel ballroom comprises an expansive landscaped outdoor amenity area that includes a café and bar that both hotel guests and residents are able to use and enjoy. The roof of the hotel features a pool and outdoor amenity area that is reserved for the exclusive use of the residents. Hotel service elevators were incorporated into the residential tower so residents can take full advantage of hotel cleaning and room services, should they choose.

More than a Building, Part of the Urban Fabric

Representing the concerns of the community, the design review processes in cities can shape a project’s impact on the neighborhood at several different levels. With Loews North Park Drive, we sought to integrate a contemporary luxury hotel/residential project into a major city that has both a formidable architectural heritage and a dynamic plan for development.

In addition to acting as a branding tool for Loews, the property stands as a landmark within the city. The hotel is located in Streeterville, a vibrant Chicago neighborhood. Bracketed by such iconic structures as the Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower, and Navy Pier, the area connects the riverfront and lakefront to the well-established Michigan Avenue retail district.

The development plan for Streeterville includes maintaining a “view corridor” that runs from Lake Michigan through the open space of Ogden Slip to the historic Tribune Tower. To preserve this corridor, the building’s tower was situated at the north end of the site, and the base was in conformance with setback requirements. With its relatively low-rise, L-shaped plan, the hotel component is friendly to the city at a decidedly human scale, while the residential tower above occupies a prime part of the Chicago skyline.

The project’s central architectural challenge was to create separate design identities for the hotel and residential components that would also work as a unified expression. The façade reflects the different uses through employing a variety of colored glazing—blue-green for the hotel, silver for the apartments, and grey panels at the apartment balconies. This treatment also works to break the mass of the tower down into visually discrete pieces and enhance its aesthetics. To establish a strong dialogue with the surrounding street context, the building’s base is clad in stone and precast concrete.

Familiarity with the locale, its design and construction codes, and resources contribute immensely to the efficient and successful completion of a project. Because SCB had previously designed eight different projects in Streeterville, we had extensive knowledge of the existing conditions as well as the city’s objectives. SCB was proud to deliver a user-oriented design solution that had measurable value—after completion, the developer sold the residential tower for a record price.

About Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB)

Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) is an award-winning architecture, interior design, and planning firm with offices in Chicago and San Francisco. Since its founding in 1931, SCB has made a lasting impact on the nation’s skylines, campuses, and neighborhoods, helping its clients across the country achieve their goals and serve their constituencies.

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