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A walk through McCormick Place’s brand new Marriott Marquis hotel

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The brand new hotel has delivered 1,205 new rooms to North America’s largest convention center

Isaac Maiselman
Isaac Maiselman

With Chicago expected to deliver 2,100 new hotel rooms in 2017, this year is looking healthy for the Windy City’s hospitality industry. While a number of new hotel developments have contributed to the current boom, no project has played a greater role than the newly opened Marriott Marquis Chicago at 2121 S. Prairie Avenue. Rising 40 stories above nearby McCormick Place and the new Wintrust Arena, the colossal project contains 1,205 guest rooms, three dining options, sprawling amenities, 93,000-square-feet of event and meeting space, and a 30-foot-tall lobby space.

Designed to make a statement on Chicago’s Near South Side, the building’s dark blue glassy facade is punctuated by a bright red Marriott ‘M’ and color-changing zig-zag LED accent lighting. A number of firms—design architect Gensler, architect of record Goettsch Partners, interior designer Anderson/Miller, and interior designer of record Simeone Deary Design Group—collaborated on the project.

The angular theme expressed in the building’s exterior is carried over inside and also serves as a nod to Chicago’s bridges and rail network. Meanwhile, carpeting with tire tread-like chevrons provides a nod to the adjacent Motor Neighborhood.

Though quite the opposite of “boutique” in terms of its sheer size and scale, the Marriott Marquis still manages to feel uniquely tied to its surroundings. This is largely due to the project’s reuse of the adjoining American Book Company building at 330 E. Cermak Road.

Now home to 29 meeting rooms, the historic 1912 structure seamlessly connects to the modern Marquis tower. Inside, a subtle incline along the floor and a switch from all glass walls to traditional windows is the only real clue that a transition from new to old has taken place.

Isaac Maiselman

The project reinforces its ties to its host city thanks to a curated collection of commissioned art pieces from over 30 Chicago-based artists. As a high-tech touch, guests can learn more about each work by scanning a unique QR code displayed with each piece.

While the project’s smaller breakout meeting rooms are well-designed and come complete with all the modern bells and whistles, the stars of Marriott Marquis Chicago’s many event spaces are its two 25,000-square-foot ballrooms with soaring 30-foot windows and skyline views of the city. Both rooms are capped by angular floating ceiling planes to provide another dimension of height and depth.

Isaac Maiselman

All of the space should come in handy given the hotel’s proximity to the new Wintrust Arena and McCormick Place’s 2.6 million square feet of convention and exhibition halls. In fact, both nearby venues are accessible by elevated walkways meaning guests of the hotel need not venture outdoors to attend either.

In addition to offering amenities such as a 24-hour fitness center, high-speed fiber optic data connections, and a spacious ‘M Club Lounge’ for Marriott Rewards members, Marriott Marquis offers ample dining options with spaces for coworking and collaboration. The ground floor features a grab-and-go counter dubbed ‘2121 Pantry’ as well as a three-meal sit-down restaurant. An open-air rooftop dining space and bar at the eastern setback of the tower’s 33rd floor is currently under construction and is expected to open later this fall.

Isaac Maiselman

The hotel’s aforementioned 1,205 guest rooms are accessed via long hallways featuring low-mounted lighting and directional spots on each door. The spaces are furnished in a handsome, contemporary manner but the standout feature in most rooms is the view afforded by the floor-to-ceiling glass. Each room also sports unique lightbox artwork showcasing scenes of Chicago.

Though the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) associated with the hotel project and its neighboring arena have been a controversial topic for some Chicagoans, it is hoped that the developments will elevate Chicago’s position as a top convention destination and act as a catalyst for future development. In addition to providing a new dog park and playground to the Prairie Avenue District, the project will soon be joined by a second, high-rise hotel project climbing skyward at 123 E. Cermack.

Isaac Maiselman
Isaac Maiselman
Isaac Maiselman
Isaac Maiselman
Isaac Maiselman