From Hospital To Hotel: Behind The Reno Of This Storied Chicago Building



If you didn’t know anything about Chicago architectural history, you’d step into the new 210-room Hyatt House and Hyatt Place Chicago Medical/University District hotel and never guess you were standing in a spot where gurneys were once wheeled through.

Indeed, the massive undertaking of renovating the original Beaux Arts building, which was first constructed in 1857, was remarkably well executed, preserving the original masonry detailing of the façade, the wood-framed windows, interior decorative plaster work, the double-height main lobby, elevator cores and terrazzo flooring.

More than $18 million was spent replacing windows and 4,160 terra-cotta pieces on the granite, brick and limestone exterior. The pièce de résistance: The 106-year-old restored marble stone staircase, which now connects the lobby and the second floor of the Hyatt. Architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill matched the existing valley gray marble reserved for historic projects, while Chicago-based KOO added modern gold-leaf sconces to illuminate the steps.

They also created an intimate spot on the curvaceous stair’s niche, adding a chaise and framed photograph of Hygeia, the Greek goddess of health, while statement lighting by Hubbardton Forge illuminates the room. Part of a $1 billion multiphase adaptive reuse project, the hotel also has meeting space and a food hall, and houses Cook County Health medical offices and a daycare facility.