The Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago will unveil its lobby transformation this month. The design will turn the lobby into a more inviting space for professionals looking to work or even network while sitting next to the hotel’s famous, 50-foot-long fireplace. The hotel will also start offering weekly social hours that highlight the flexibility of the space.
The hotel invited U.K.-based designer Jim Hamilton, who had designed the hotel’s modern interiors and public spaces, back to create the new lobby space. It now features more flexible furnishings conducive to networking, working in the space or even just reading one of the hotel’s fashion or photography books by the fireplace. Fuchsia pillows that add a splash of excitement to the space accent the gray furniture, which can be adapted for all kinds of gatherings. Plus, there are now more power outlets for professionals to plug-in.
“People work 24-7 nowadays. The days of everyone working at their desk are over because the nature of the life we have to live now enables us to be working outside the [guest] room environment,” says Pierre-Louis Giacotto, the hotel’s general manager. “Having those spaces in the lobby allows guests to relax and have a drink but in a more common place.”
The other major addition to the lobby interior is the 11 Vivian Maier photographs hanging on the brick archway. The French woman came to Chicago in the 1960s, working as a nanny, but her passion was in photography. Her photographs remained unknown until a local Chicago historian discovered them in 2007. Since her death in 2009, her work has become quite famous, especially for her prints taken of 1960s Chicago.
To coincide with the new space, the hotel now offers new concepts and programs as well. One new feature includes the Blu Bar, an 8-seat bar adjacent to the lobby. It operates as a European coffee bar from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. and a wine bar from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. with a selection of highly rated domestic wines. The hotel staff will also start hosting a social hour, Bytes, which starts this spring. Bytes will be held at the Blu Bar every Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. with complimentary small bites of dishes offered at the onsite restaurant.
“In addition to creating the lobby environment, we want to take advantage of the space and get people in it,” says Giacotto. “Bytes is about engaging people, giving guests tips about the city and even serving food that will be in our restaurants.”
This fall, the hotel will also start offering a complimentary audio art tour of the permanent onsite art gallery, which features artwork ranging from oil canvas to sculptures created by local artists. The audio tour will be available for guests to download to a smart phone or iPad.