Midtown Athletic Club, Chicago

For client: MIDTOWN ATHLETIC CLUBS Floor area: 24000.00 M² Year of completion: 2018
Submitted for: Health Club of the Year

Public Score
5.73 Function
5.76 Innovation
5.69 Creativity
© Anthony Tahlier Photography

The Field was created for cross training with professional materials and equipment. Turf flooring was designed with distance markings for intervals and extends out to a rooftop terrace for an outdoor workout.

About the Project

Located off Chicago’s Elston industrial corridor, the 24,000 sqm expansion of Midtown Athletic Club and Hotel transforms what was the largest indoor tennis club in the country to the largest lifestyle center in the country. The club had its “glory days” in the 1970’s and 1980’s, frequented by revered professionals like Andre Agassi and John McEnroe, and fitness was purely an amenity to the tennis. Now, the progressive hybrid Club and Hotel create a destination for the ultimate experience in fitness, entertainment, relaxation and more.

The Club spans 3 levels, featuring multiple programs – from boutique studios such as Yoga, group fitness, multimedia Spinning, Boxing and The Field with rooftop workout areas – to custom amenities such as a signature Restaurant, indoor/outdoor Pools, Mind & Body suite, Spa/ Salon and retail. Facilitating the Club community, a large open “landing pit” at the top of the grand staircase serves as the hub of Midtown where people can meet, work, enjoy entertainment in comfortable seating and with access to the restaurant, outdoor pool and fitness areas. Staying true to the project concept and requirements, relentless attention was paid to the overall unification from master planning to the smallest detail.

What’s unique about it

Originally a 3-story building for just the Health Club, we were “design complete” when it was decided to add 2 floors to accommodate a hotel. This programmatic change posed a challenge requiring modifications to the structural design and circulation with minimal changes to the already designed health club. We maintained agility as the design evolved resulting in a unique hybrid brand of Athletic Club and Hotel.

The aggressive schedule and budget had the design team rethinking materials and its uses. In particular, sustainability was embraced in imaginative ways, most notably by reusing most of the wood formwork from concrete construction as finish material; salvaging granite end blocks as the reception desk and backdrop wall; and repurposing relics from the Club’s history as jewel pieces in a metal trellis floating above the grand staircase and communal hub. When the Hotel was added to the program and two columns interrupted the Yoga studio, a design opportunity presented itself. Inspired by the Bodhi or “wisdom” tree, the team transformed the space by artfully cladding the columns in strips of wood, dressing the trunk in layers of bark branching out into limbs and twigs in a delicate balance.

Our design is “experiential” and creates significant and memorable events by combining technology, custom craftsmanship and unique elements in a cohesive way.

© Anthony Tahlier Photography

Walls float in the Yoga studio with indirect light shining above and below, giving an aura of lightness and blurring time. The soft light brings two bodhi “wisdom” trees alive, artfully covering structural columns and bracing.

© Anthony Tahlier Photography

Within the Spa/Salon is a luxurious grooming station with herringbone flooring, decorative tile partitions maintaining visual lines, and elegant white goose feather pendant globes illuminating the space for perfect coiffing.

© Anthony Tahlier Photography

Shower “totems” in soft white marble with powerful grain strike a beautiful contrast with the wood flooring and dark stone walls all under the glowing back-lit ceiling.

© Anthony Tahlier Photography

The Mind & Body relaxation lounge is a quiet ante room for the Yoga and Pilates studios where guests meet the mystical world. The ceiling and backdrop to Buddha are perforated and sparkle like a constellation of stars.

© Anthony Tahlier Photography

A full-sized boxing ring is located next to The Field for an added workout. Professional grade punching bags pack the room.

© Anthony Tahlier Photography

Cardio and strength training machines fill the large fitness floor and face a glass wall looking out onto the pool deck and to the city skyline. Wood formwork used during concrete construction is repurposed and visible on the wall, floor and ceiling.

© Anthony Tahlier Photography

The Landing Pit is the hub of Midtown, welcoming guests to relax, meet, work or enjoy entertainment. Floating above is a large 12 m metal trellis designed with copper and wood infill salvaged from the famed tennis club prior to demolition.

© Anthony Tahlier Photography

The indoor pool includes a moveable bulkhead for training and to the side is a large hydrotherapy pool with three cascading waterfalls. Wood formwork used during concrete construction leaves an etched wood grain pattern in the ceiling beams.

© Anthony Tahlier Photography

The 24,000 sqm expansion of Midtown Athletic Club and Hotel transforms what was the largest indoor tennis club in the country to the largest lifestyle center in the country. The Hotel towers above the Club in a glass volume with spectacular views.

Location of project:

Are you sure?

Remember that you can only vote once per award category.