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|Rendering courtesy Langham Hotels
In 2006, the IBM was set to go residential, first with condos, and then, two years later, with a hotel. After the 2008 crash, after pouring in millions, the developer decided the Chicago market couldn't support another 300 rooms of hospitality. Work stopped until 2010, when the property was bought out by Langham Hotels, who had apparently decided there might be room for another big hotel, after all.
Chicago will be the latest outpost of a burgeoning global chain that began with the acquisition of what was then the Langham Hilton in London's Portland Place. The Langham was one of the first ultra-luxury hotels. Constructed in 1866 for the astronomical sum of £300,000 sterling, it was declared open by no less than the Prince of Wales, with a guest roster down through the decades including everyone from Mark Twain to Princess Diana (regrettably, not together.)
|Langham Hotel, London - image courtesy Langham Hotels
In 1980, Lo persuaded his brother Dr. Lo Ka Shui to give up a career as a cardiologist to join the Great Eagle board, and since 2003 he's been the Executive Chairman of the Langham Hospitality Group, heading up an ambitious expansion plan to open 50 hotels in the next 5 years, predominantly in Asia. In the U.S. the chain bought up existing properties and set up outposts in Boston, Pasadena and, in May of this year, New York.
Now it's the Chicago's turn, with 316 upscale rooms - the smallest over 500 square feet- and over 15,000 square feet of event facilities at The Langham Chicago.
|Rendering Courtesy Langham Hotels
told Crain's Chicago Business that the cost of building out the former office space was half the cost of new construction. In addition, the previous developers got the IBM designated an official Chicago Landmark - the newest building to be so listed. The Trib's Karoun Demirjian reported that nearly 75% of the estimated $139 million cost of the renovation will qualify for ‘Class L’ incentives that will reduce property taxes over the next 12 years.
|First floor lobby, Rendering Courtesy Langham Hotels
|Images Courtesy Langham Hotels
The IBM Building worked because, whether you were talking about open floors of cubicles, extruded workbenches, or perimeters of executive offices, the standardized spaces flowed unobtrusively behind the perfect Miesian curtain wall. For a high-end hotel, such reticence is not practicable. A grand hotel like The Langham is theater. “I don't want realism” Blanche Dubois once famously remarked, “I want magic.’
|Image Courtesy Langham Hotels
Now all those often double-height spaces a hotel requires - the check-in lobby, the ballrooms, Chicago's first Chuan spa, the 67-foot swimming pool, the open-kitchen restaurant designed by David Rockwell - have changed how the outside of the building reads. One of the basic conceits of a Mies skyscraper - the dark tower resting atop a pillow of light - is subverted.
|Treatment Room, Chuan Spa - Image Courtesy Langham Hotels
Lohan, for one, thinks Mies would have been accepting. “I asked him,” said Lohan, “what he felt should be done with his buildings as time goes on. Because even then there were people who were so enamored that, if you touch a Mies building, they go to the barricades. I don't feel that way, because he said, ‘this is not for me to decide, whether you and the future generations feel these buildings are worthy of preservation. Some of them are and others are not.’ And I think he's absolutely right. I feel that same way.”
- The Langham Chicago official website
- IBM Building Landmarks Designation Report
- Part One - Apotheosis of the Skyscraper: The Rise of Mies van der Rohe's IBM Building.
- Part Two - How Do You Get to AMA Plaza? High-tech, decline and revival at Mies van der Rohe's IBM Building.
- Five Things I Learned from Dirk Lohan about Mies van der Rohe's IBM Building
- The Ninotchka of River North: George Schipporeit's IBM Self-Park