Once a Hospital, Now a High-end Hotel

Nov. 23, 2021

Public advocacy for preservation of historical structures has had a checkered history. It worked in New York City when violinist Isaac Stern and Jackie Kennedy led the reversal of a developer’s proposal to tear down Carnegie Hall. It couldn’t stop the destruction of the original, glass-enclosed Penn station or Adler and Sullivan’s Chicago Stock Exchange.

When the massive Cook County Hospital, a building that was first constructed in 1912 and served as a working hospital until 2002, was threatened with destruction, supporters and the Chicago advocacy group Landmarks Illinois mobilized and, ultimately, succeeded in getting the building restored and repurposed into a Hyatt Place Hotel and the extended-stay Hyatt House.

A meticulous $140 million restoration of the old hospital followed. Led by a devoted team from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the architects and their consultants restored the neglected exterior and once-crumbling interior to a handsome and smoothly functional facility. KOO was tasked with the design of the hotel’s interiors. Lighting design was under the direction of Hugh Lighting Design.

“The building has landmark status, which constrained where light fixtures and conduits could be located,” says Peter Hugh. “The main façade faces a main highway, the Eisenhower Expressway, and we wanted the illuminated façade to be in clear view, so we used a technique of light and shadow to let some architectural features go dark and play up others.” 

Products in Use: “On the large columns, we used Targetti Dart Maxi on the column sides to uplight these features. The fixtures offered a precise beam and flexibility. Between the columns is Ecosense Exterior Trov in a 2200K color to highlight the 4,500 pieces of terra cotta that were replaced,” Hugh indicated.

For the top, Hugh’s choice was Targetti’s Minilini with a narrow beam distribution to emphasize architectural features. At the ground level, Targetti Stilo wall fixtures give definition to the arches as well as provide lighting on the ground.

Hugh coordinated with interior specialist Jackie Koo for the illumination of public spaces and guest rooms. “The interior was lighted with USAI beveled downlights on the first floor and second-floor bar/restaurant,” Hugh says. Corridors and circulation areas on these levels are lighted with Erco Pantec uplights, selected for their widespread applicability to tight mounting conditions. Typical floors were lighted with downlights by H.E. Williams to accommodate differing ceiling heights that occur on different floors. A multi-arm chandelier fashioned of metallic circles and white globes lends sparkle to the lobby.

Project Specs:
Hyatt Place Chicago – Medical / University District
Architecture: SOM
Interiors: KOO
Lighting Design: Hugh Lighting Design
Exterior Products: Targetti, Dart Maxi, Minilini, Stilo; Ecosense Exterior Trov (2200K
Interior Products: Erco Pantec uplights; H.E. Williams downlights; USAI beveled downlights