We’re taking a Throwback Thursday trip back to August 1974 for the grand opening of the Epstein designed 1,000-room, 36-story Hyatt Regency Chicago hotel. This $40M ($77M in 2015) high-rise building featured a three-level, glass-enclosed conservatory lobby/atrium that opened outward onto a landscaped plaza. Additionally, this space also included the use of large interior trees, terrazzo planters, fountains and a three-level rain curtain waterfall.
Because the hotel was built on less than half of its 1.2 acre site, with the remainder devoted to the plaza, careful planning of the public and back-of-house areas for maximum efficiency was especially important.
The Hyatt Regency included three restaurants and two lounges on the various lobby levels. Hospitality suites were located on each floor with the 36th floor devoted entirely to luxury VIP suites complete with fireplaces! The Hotel also contained 20 meeting rooms, including the Regency Ballroom, capable of seating 1800 – which was a huge hit with convention/exhibition/event planners.
This 800,000 square foot building featured a four-inch thick pre-fabricated brick skin which at the time was a relatively new innovation in brick construction. This construction technique helped save more than one dollar per square foot over typical laid-in place construction and also helped significantly reduce construction time.
The Hyatt Regency was part of the Illinois Center Complex, an 83-acre development that was roughly bounded by Michigan Avenue, Upper Wacker, Columbus Drive and Randolph Street, which was built over air-rights in downtown Chicago. This particular hotel was a joint-venture between Metropolitan Structures, the Illinois Center Corporation, the Prudential Insurance Company of America, Real Estate Advisors Corporation and the Hyatt Corporation.
This building still stands and is a still a significant piece of the Hyatt Hotel Empire. Additionally, Epstein was also hired shortly after the completion of this building to design a new 33-story hotel across the street from the Regency to create a massive 2000+ room Hotel/Convention Center complex. We’ll cover this Hyatt addition next week.