We first showed some impressions of how Virgin Hotels might look last year when details emerged of “a bed that can do tricks” and a bedroom that an be split into two chambers.
At the time Jefferson Thomas had been appointed as director of architecture and technical services but there were no signs of any consultancies having been engaged.
Phase one of the design stage has now been completed by Rockwell Group Europe which has worked on the design of the 250 guest rooms, and The Commons Club, which is being touted as the “social epicentre” of the hotel.
The corridors, which lead to rooms, or Chambers as they are being called, have been designed with a “residential mood” that includes red wall lamps, reminiscent of street lighting, while guest room doors look like townhouse doors and are designed in Virgin’s signature red.
Inside the rooms Rockwell Group Europe has looked to create a “timeless yet playful” design with a natural wood palette.
Designed as a “pied à terre” the bedroom has two distinct areas, which can be divided by sliding privacy doors – featuring a peephole.
The Dressing Room combines hallway, closet and bathroom and features a vanity area with a separate make-up desk and seating, storage and mirror, Poliform wardrobes, a toilet and large shower with bench.
The Lounge features a patent-pending bed which functions “as a playpen and traditional bed” according to Virgin Hotels and Rockwell Group Europe, which have co-designed it. A corner seat at the foot of the bed allows for “multi-dimensional lounging”.
This section of the room also contains a rotating table, Poltrona Frau desk chair, an Artemide LED task light, and a SMEG fridge in Virgin red.
The Commons Club is almost 600m2 and has been divided into zones including The Commons Bar, The Shag Room, The Funny Library and The Kitchen.
An oak wood parquet floor pervades the space and clusters of bespoke North American manufactured furniture have been acquired.
The double height coffered plaster ceiling has been restored, accentuated by exposed filament pendant lights which drop down above the bar.
The Shag Room is designed for small parties to gather on large couches in “semi-private or private settings” and The Funny Library is an office “with a sense of humour” according to Virgin Hotels which says the space is stocked with humourous books, vintage toys and art procured from local antique stores.
The second phase is expected to launch by mid-April and will see a street level diner called Miss Ricky’s open as well as Two Zero Three – a coffee and wine bar – two penthouse suites and The Spa, which promises a rustic design.
Virgin Hotels chief executive Raul Leal says: “While we came to the project with a specific notion of hospitality that builds on Virgin’s innovative and playful spirit, Rockwell Group Europe helped us design a unique guest experience focused on customisation and efficiency.”
The hotel is located in downtown Chicago in the 26-storey Art Deco Old Dearborn Bank Building . Some of its original features have been kept. These include a 1920s oak Cigar Bar that now serves as the hotel’s front desk and ornate brass elevator doors.
Rockwell Group Europe managing and creative director Diego Gronda who led the project says that his team has worked with “wonderful original details” and offset them with contemporary elements to underscore Virgin Hotels’ vibrant identity.