Virgin Hotel Keeps Her Secrets Close to Her Ornately Decorated Chest

Virgin Hotel under construction

It’s been a number of months since work began turning the old Dearborn Bank Building into the world’s first Virgin Hotel at 203 North Wabash Avenue in The Loop. And what do we have to show for it? Not much. At least on the outside.

Most of the work has been going on inside, behind the scenes. On the outside, there has been frustratingly little to see, except for one lone scaffold that delicately picks its way across the building’s facade tucking points, and removing bits of the skin that might flake off.

Looking for change at least gives us a moment to pause and appreciate the building’s ornamentation — lots of dragons and griffins, and ugly heads, along with fish, knots and heraldry that appears to feature a duck.

Even when it was new, this building was under appreciated, and before this renovation, existed on an almost forgotten corner of Chicago’s downtown.

While the Virgin company is known for the sleek and the modern, perhaps its designers will find some way of bringing a little of the outside symbolism inside for visitors to appreciate when this hotel opens just a few months from now.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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