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After 18 months and $100 million, the highly anticipated upgrade of the Hotel Ritz-Carlton Chicago, San Francisco design firm BAMO Architects “connected design elements of the building’s historic exterior and brought the inspiration and energy of Chicago inside,” just happened, making it the biggest transformation in hotel interior design history!

 

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In fact, the location is part of what makes the building so special: the 292-key hotel is situated on Water Tower Place beside the historic Chicago Water Tower—one of the only buildings to have survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

 

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The 12th-floor lobby is anchored by the Flying Wave, a wavelike sculpture crafted from four types of handblown glass in blue tones, reminiscent of Lake Michigan, while sleek, solar gray marble columns nod to the building’s Art Deco roots.

 

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Guiding the eyes up is the soaring 19-foot-tall American walnut-clad fins that reference the vertical forms of Chicago’s skyscrapers. Art plays a major role throughout the hotel with its permanent collection inspired by the neighboring Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago-, showcasing various mediums, from sculptures to lithographs.

 

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Hotel Ritz Carlton Chicago lobby bar, once tucked away in a corner as if it were an afterthought, has been elevated to a focal point. It’s now a glowing beacon of copper, marble and geometric-shaped overhead lighting reminiscent of modern Italian design from the ’30s and ’40s.

 

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In addition to modern yet minimalistic guestrooms, other new spaces include Italian concept Torali on the 12th floor, which is dressed in leather, light wood, blue upholstery, and brass and glass globe lights. The marble and copper bar, meanwhile, sits beneath a dramatic canopy of 49 individually suspended modernist fixtures.

 

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The 434-room Hotel Ritz Carlton Chicago has gone through a series of “soft” refreshes since opening in 1975. But this final phase of renovation marks the first true overhaul of the high-profile public areas. The guiding principle was to give the Ritz-Carlton a better sense of place, weaving in nods to the city’s status as a pioneer of modern architecture and creating more harmony between the building’s interior and exterior.

 

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The same type of marble on the Water Tower Place facade has been brought into the lobby in the form of massive columns. These pillars are interspersed with rows of 19-foot-tall walnut “fins,” all of which are meant to draw the eye upward.