LH Design Awards: Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago

LH Design Awards: Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago
The Team: Carlson Rezidor & Magellan (joint venture owners and developers); Jeanne Gang, Gang Studios (lead architect of the Aqua Tower); Jim Hamilton, Graven Images (interior design)
The Brief: Create the first Radisson Blu in North America and set the stylish and contemporary standard for the brand here.
The Inspiration: This hotel, and the upper-upscale Blu concept in general, took cues from Rezidor, Carlson’s longtime European partner, which has directed Radisson Blu into one of the most successful and respected brands globally. 
The Finished Product: The first 18 floors of the new landmark 81-story Aqua Tower house the 334-room hotel. The $125-million project was completed in November, and includes 28,000 square feet of meeting space; an 8,000-square-foot fitness facility; an indoor basketball court; a movie screening room; an indoor lap pool; a recreation deck with gardens, gazebos and two outdoor pools; and a new upscale Italian restaurant called Filini. The design from UK-based Jim Hamilton blends Chicago touches with the global feel of the brand.
The Focal Points: The lobby clearly pays homage to Chicago, with stunning elements like a lobby wall featuring backlit glass bricks symbolic of the city’s skyline, or steelwork that brings to mind Chicago’s reputation as the birthplace of modern skyscraper architecture. Guestrooms have a more European flair, with two room types: Mansion House, defined by strong lines, deep rich timber finishes and flashes of chrome; and Naturally Cool, with splashes of color, a white bed, metal lamps and wood flooring. Breathtaking views of Lake Michigan and a neighboring park are visible through 20-foot high windows in the 12,000-square-foot Atlantic Ballroom.

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