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Hard Rock Hotel
Lucien Lagrange Architects

Lucien Lagrange plays it cool, adapting a classic 1929 Burnham skyscraper as a hotel, with glitzy interiors by Yabu Pushelberg

© Adrian Wilson

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By William Weathersby, Jr.

The Hard Rock Hotel has rolled into the Windy City, and it’s not the neon-wrapped shrine of music memorabilia you might have expected. With only a discreet logo affixed to its North Michigan Avenue facade to announce its presence, the 381-guest-room hotel is the new headliner of the landmark 1929 Carbide and Carbon Building, which has been deftly restored, adapted, and expanded by Chicago’s Lucien Lagrange Architects. Although interiors by Yabu Pushelberg do serve up some expected flash—with mirrored walls, portraits of rock icons silk-screened onto metal panels, and a modicum of vitrines showcasing the costumes and musical instruments of stars like B.B. King and Sting—it’s a more refined look for the chain. Classic rock has replaced theme-park pop on the playlist. Indeed, the Chicago property marks a departure for the Hard Rock Hotel brand, reenvisioned as a joint venture between the Rank Group—the parent company—and Sol Meliá Hotels & Resorts, an international chain.

Originally designed by the Burnham Brothers (helmed by Hubert and Daniel, Jr., the sons of legendary architect Daniel Burnham) as a corporate headquarters for the originator of the Eveready battery, the Carbon and Carbide Building shines again as a notable Chicago landmark. Considered the younger Burnhams’ finest work, the Art Deco–influenced, 40-story building now shows off its dark green terra-cotta tower embellished with gold leaf rising above a base of black marble and bronze trim.

Rather than slavishly mimic the Burnham edifice, Lagrange’s new addition is a jewel box that combines a structurally glazed curtain wall and zinc detailing framed by black granite walls that evoke the original building’s marble base. Above the restaurant sits a double-height ballroom with a cutout window overlooking diners below and Michigan Avenue beyond. The original elevator lobby has been restored, while a new marquee on South Water Street is inspired by original Burnham details.

Want the full story? Read the entire article in our August 2004 issue.
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Formal name of Project:
Hard Rock Hotel


Gross square footage:
295,000 sq. ft.

Total construction cost:
$106 million

Mark IV Realty Group

Lucien Lagrange Architects
605 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois


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