After a fairly contentious two-year gestation period, the West Loop’s upcoming Nobu Hotel is showing new signs of life after a major architectural redesign. Hoping to be a relatively early adopter in the Fulton-Randolph area’s booming hospitality scene, developers first pitched their plan for a Nobu-branded boutique hotel and restaurant for the northeast corner of Randolph and Peoria in March of 2014. Announced via press release and without prior consultation with local community groups, the plan immediately came under fire from residents. The West Loop neighbors, in a press release of their own, demanded an "explanation" from Nobu's famous namesake chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa and business partner Robert De Niro (yes, that Robert De Niro).
At a subsequent community meeting in the summer of 2014, architects Booth Hansen publicly presented a 12-story industrial style brick and steel design that included 10,000 square feet of restaurant space and 155 guest rooms. While neighbors were generally receptive to the culinary value that Nobu would add to Randolph’s famed Restaurant Row, many felt the scale and particularly the height of the hotel portion was inappropriate and grossly out of touch with its surroundings. In early 2015 the Nobu developers announced their intentions to heed the advice of the neighbors by taking a proverbial Ginsu knife to the design and cutting the structure down to a more suitable height. Zoning for a pared-down 8-story, 83-key design was later approved at the July meeting of the Chicago Plan Commission.
The latest batch of renderings from Booth Hansen’s website gives us a better idea of just how much the Nobu plan has changed. While the 8-story building is still comprised of brick, metal, and glass, the exterior now embraces a vintage arch detail over the windows that repeats every two stories to give the visual impression of fewer floors. The original and simple cube-like design has been refined into more of an L-shaped configuration that aims to maximize eastern views of Chicago’s downtown skyline. Summertime renderings of Nobu’s sidewalk cafe and rooftop terrace look fantastic and even include young West Loopers enjoying what are presumably $19 cocktails. According to Booth Hansen's online project description, the number of hotel rooms has been further reduced to 76.
While no construction timeline has been made available, the release of updated drawings is an encouraging omen for the city-approved project. Since the Nobu plan was first announced for Fulton-Randolph two year ago, a number of competing hotel proposal have come out of the woodwork such as the Ace, the Shapack Partners hotel slated for 200 N Green, and a new Randolph street hotel project from Equinox fitness clubs. They would join the neighborhood's already-open and acclaimed Soho House located at 113 N Green.
·Nobu Hotel and Restaurant [Booth Hansen Architects]
·West Loop Nobu Hotel & Restaurant Proposal Gets Public Debut [Curbed Chicago]
·West Loop Nobu Hotel Developer Chops Proposal Down [Curbed Chicago]
·West Loop archives [Curbed Chicago]