The design of Hotel EMC2 is a traditional tower and base massing concept. As Architects for a hospitality building type we are always challenged by the repetitive and relentless nature of the hotel guestroom module. For this project, we wanted to create a strong identity for a boutique hotel. We aimed to dilute the typical punched opening by creating a legible pattern that could read on an urban scale. The tower is a painted metal rain screen in 3 different colors that creates a diagonally oriented super-graphic pattern wrapping the building. At the pedestrian level, a more precious interference coated stainless steel with a highly dynamic materiality further establish the duality between tower and base.
The footprint was a restrictive 60’ x 110’ on which the client desired 200 guestrooms and a double height space for a restaurant at the base of the building. A central core would have been the normative solution for shear walls. This would have cut the building in half on the tiny site, leaving only small spaces. The solution was an asymmetrical core with shear walls on the ends.
Another issue was a turn-of-the-20th-century residence next to the hotel, which houses a storied French restaurant with a notable wine cellar. To ensure its foundation wouldn’t be compromised, it was moved and reinstalled prior to underpinning the hotel.
Finally, guestrooms were given a fresh design edge with bathrooms conceptualized as scientists’ labs, complete with glass-and-steel showers open to the room but outfitted with drapes for privacy.
The exterior envelope of the building exceeds energy code requirements. The thermal resistance of the exterior walls exceed energy code via increased continuous insulation with a rainscreen cladding. The roof systems include green roofs and high solar reflectance membranes to reduce the urban heat island effect. The punched windows of the exterior wall leaves the percentage of glazing to be only 20% of wall area. All hotel rooms have low-e glazing with a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.39.
LED light fixtures are installed throughout the building to reduce the lighting load while lighting control systems further reduce lighting demand based on available daylighting and room vacancy. Guest room energy management also optimizes energy consumption by turning off lights and TV, and resets the HVAC system to accommodate unoccupied periods.
The HVAC system utilizes variable refrigerant flow units throughout the building which offer improved efficiencies in comparison to water based heat pumps. Demand control ventilation is included at hotel guestrooms and kitchen areas so that fans are operable only when required, thereby reducing electrical loads. Regenerative motor systems at three passenger elevators further reduce electrical energy consumption and a high efficiency domestic hot water heating system provide 98% combustion efficiency, which exceeds code minimum efficiency of 80%.
The hotel construction did not add any off-street parking spaces on the property. The hotel location has a Walk Score of 99 out of 100 and is a nine minute walk from the “L” Grand-Red stop. The project is located in one of Chicago's most walkable and dense neighborhoods.
The projects includes a green roof and planting beds for cultivating edibles for The Albert restaurant.