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