Located at the corner of Washington and State streets in the heart of Chicago, IL's central business district and the State Street retail and theatre district, the Hotel Burnham is a $27.5 million refurbishment and renovation of the historic Reliance Building. Completed in 1895, the building not only was a premier product of the Chicago School of architecture, it ushered in a new era as Chicago's first direct predecessor of today's modern skyscraper. Home of Carson Pirie Scott & Co. in the early 1900s, the Reliance Building seemed to defy gravity with its interior iron-and-steel-frame construction and delicate glass and terra cotta facade.
To recreate a classic club aesthetic for the 122-room, European-style hotel, Susan Caruso of Intro Spec Design, Los Angeles, CA, concentrated on themes of romance and turn-of-the-century opulence using original elements from the building as well as rich color schemes of earth tones throughout the hotel. The registration desk, just inside the main Washington St. entry, is covered with the same style of mahogany wood cladding used originally along the columns in the building.
Upon entering the lobby, eyes are drawn to an 18-foot-mural, designed by artist Ric Tringali, depicting the 1893 Columbian Exposition, for which hotel namesake and celebrated architect Daniel Burnham was director of works. Situated within the lobby is a comfortable living room seating area aside a marble fireplace with deep mahogany leather sofas and burgundy mohair side chairs accented by leopard print and gold pillows.
As visitors walk through the elegant lobby to the elevators, they enter the historic hallway—the original building entrance and elevator lobby, which now features an exquisite mosaic floor, multi-colored marble walls, an ornamental stairwell with marble treads and ornamental iron elevator grills, all reconstructed to replicate original elements.
INVITING AND ROMANTIC
Leading to the guest rooms on floors two through 14, visitors are greeted by the same warm, rich gold and burgundy colors carried from the lobby, with the addition of a brilliant blue hue. The guest room corridors are lined in Axminster carpet with a delicate swan inset complemented by deep blue door-drops imprinted with the Hotel Burnham quatrefoil.
Using rich colors and fabrics in gold and blue, Caruso has created inviting and romantic guest rooms that reflect elegance and intimacy. The focal point of the room is the guest bed with an oversized, blue velvet headboard (embroidered with the signature Hotel Burnham quatrefoil), a canopy of sheer gold fabric and a soft cotton sateen bedspread covered with mischievous cherubs. The rooms are wrapped in a large block pattern wall covering in tone-on-tone gold, accented by a large mahogany starburst mirror and stylish framed artwork.
Highlighting the building's dramatic bay windows, Caruso designed window coverings with a cornice of blue velvet fabric and draperies of simulated silk accented with gold script notes of Mozart's Fifth Symphony. To give guests a feeling of privacy without obstructing the magnificent views of the Chicago skyline, she added a Roman sheer to the windows that—when drawn—still allow guests to see the view without letting others see in. Framing the windows in each room is a chaise lounge covered in a gold harlequin woven cotton, contrasted by plump, blue velvet pillows. Completing the room is a rich mahogany writing desk and large gentlemen's chest, topped by two oversized lamps with fluted mahogany bases and amber accents.