OLD STYLE, NEW LIFE
Located in the West Loop of Chicago, the neighborhood that, over the last decades, has been able to reshape its image, the Ace Hotel – a 159-room facility, plus common spaces for events and meetings – is a tribute to the tradition of the Modern Movement, reinterpreted with an unprecedented contemporary taste. A reference to the spirit of the New Bauhaus, of European origin, which, at the beginning of the Twentieth century, in the state of Illinois found fertile ground for a prolific creative activity. The building is full of suggestions and references to authors such as Louis Sullivan, John Wellborn Root and Frank Lloyd Wright. Architects who contributed, since the end of the nineteenth century, to making Chicago the main city of American architecture. The teachings of the Prairie School of Architecture, from which the Ace Hotel seems to have taken its linguistic code, come back strongly today. The style characterized by horizontal lines, flat or terraced roofs, protruding cornices are the canons of a new functional aesthetics. More design studies contributed to the construction of the hotel.The architectural project is signed by GREC Architects, a Chicago-based practice, which for the same client has transformed the Ace Downtown of Los Angeles. The link with the context is the starting point of the design research, which is expressed through pure volumes, linear geometric shapes, sharp cuts that mark the facades, finished with bricks, in harmony with the signs of the industrial city. The West Loop district, in fact, after having been until the first half of the twentieth century an important center for import and production, with a rich entrepreneurial fabric, has reconverted its urban vocation, regenerating all those empty spaces left by factories and warehouses disposed of in new workspaces, including restaurants and entertainment venues. The traces of the past are used as identifying elements of the oncoming novelties. The Ace Hotel is a good example. It can be understood both from the formal aspect that organizes the internal spaces, and from the organization of the facades along the sidewalk that runs along the block. To the already existing facade of the old Italian-American dairy industry, carefully recovered in all its parts, with the typical red bricks, the designers added two other buildings: the seven-story one, covered with white bricks, and the four-story one – the central body – clad with black bricks, aligned with the existing front, but set back from the first two, so as to leave room for the large panoramic terrace, designed like a promenade overlooking the neighborhood.