21c Museum Hotel Chicago: 2020 Best of Year Winner for Domestic Hospitality Transformation

Photography by Julie Soefer.

The interior renovation of the latest addition to 21c Museum Hotels’ nine-property portfolio—all by Interior Design Hall of Fame member Deborah Berke—provides a fine example of her firm working at the height of its powers. Articulating the hospitality brand’s art-driven concept was a top priority in refashioning the 297-room, 16-story high-rise, a 1927 brick structure that was a hotel from the get-go—the James, most recently. To create gallerylike spaces that privileged the experience of contemporary art, attention was paid to the public areas and how they flowed. Berke and team devised a double-height lobby and relocated the main staircase, offering an engaging visual path and a museum-quality setting for the art, some of it monumental, like the life-size sculpture of a man on a bison by THE KID, a French artist. Guest rooms are bright and airy, with a calm palette drawn from the Midwestern skies and the waters of Lake Michigan. “With all the provocative art, the idea was to create a sense of welcoming comfort, with good lighting and all the things you want in a hotel room,” Berke notes. In short, both aesthetic and sybaritic needs are fully met.

Photography by Julie Soefer.
Photography by Julie Soefer.
Photography by Julie Soefer.
Photography by Julie Soefer.

Project Team: Terrence Schroeder; Deborah Berke; Stephen Brockman; Yasemin Tarhan; Gunnar Burke; Virginia Gray; Chris Leung.

> See the full list of winners and honorees from Best of Year 2020

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