Hotel EMC2 Opens in Downtown Chicago; Smart People Pack Their Bags

You don’t have to have crazy white hair and a Nobel Prize in physics to stay at downtown Chicago’s newest hotel.  SMASHotels recently swung the doors open at 228 East Ontario Street in Streeterville for Hotel EMC2, welcoming all to its eclectic interior and science-themed accouterments.

For those of you who aren’t scienticians, “EMC2” is a nod to the law of mass-energy equivalence.  If all this is new to you, you can learn more about it in this Wikipedia article that’s already way over your head.

Rendering of the SMASHotels project at 228 East Ontario Street (Courtesy of Koo and Associates)

Rendering of the EMC2 Hotel (Courtesy of Koo and Associates)

We’ve been following the progress of this hotel since it was a little baby neighborhood outrage back in 2014.  Now that it’s complete, the KOO and Associates-designed building sports 195 rooms across 21 stories, with not-so subtle early 20th-century laboratory touches throughout.

The hotel’s restaurant “Albert” is a reference to the man who figured the whole E=MC2 thing out, Albert Einstein.  It has regular seating for 120 people, and super special seating for 20 invited guests in the kitchen.  That’s where you can watch the chefs prepare your meal right before your very eyes.  It’s like the Food Network, but in 3D, with the best sound system ever and smell-o-vision.  After your meal, remember that it’s only polite to invite the kitchen staff to your office to sit around and gawk at you while you work, too.

The Albert at Hotel EMC2 (Photograph by Michael Kleinberg, courtesy of Marriott International)

The Albert at Hotel EMC2 (Photograph by Michael Kleinberg, courtesy of Marriott International)

Hotel EMC2 is part of Marriott’s Autograph flag, so if you’re collecting points with Big M, this is a good place to lay your head.  Making the reservation might just be your first opportunity to try the new 884 toll-free area code.

Press release follows.

Hotel EMC2 (Photograph by Michael Kleinberg, courtesy of Marriott International)

Hotel EMC2 (Photograph by Michael Kleinberg, courtesy of Marriott International)

BETHESDA, Md. /PRNewswire/ — Some might call it genius; all will call it “exactly like nothing else.” Autograph Collection Hotels, part of Marriott International (NASDAQ: MAR), together with SMASHotels, an award-winning hospitality management company, announced the official opening of Hotel EMC2 in downtown Chicago. Celebrating the convergence of art and science through its design, cuisine and guest experience, Hotel EMC2 joins the diverse and dynamic portfolio of more than 100 Autograph Collection Hotels around the world that are independent, one-of-a-kind and champion values of vision, design and craft.

“Hotel EMC2 is the perfect addition to Autograph Collection Hotels with its complex, yet enriching concept and complementary design elements,” said Brian Povinelli, Senior Vice President and Global Brand Leader, Autograph Collection Hotels. “Our hotels and resorts are known for providing standout guest experiences that are Exactly Like Nothing Else, and we believe that Hotel EMC2 will exceed this promise, attracting global travelers and Chicago notables alike.”

Driven by the vision and passion of local real estate developer, leader and disruptor Scott Greenberg, President and CEO of SMASHotels, as well as General Manager Christine Wechter, the hotel’s interiors are designed by the award-winning Rockwell Group and architecture by KOO. Art and science are thoughtfully woven throughout every nook of the 21-story, 195-room hotel beginning with a typographic design that greets guests upon arrival and features the commanding words of legendary Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci: “Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses – learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” Da Vinci’s vision sets the stage for the experience to follow, guiding the design of the hotel: from the captivating pieces of artwork commissioned specifically for the hotel, to the well-appointed guestrooms subtly influenced by 1920s laboratories with rose gold fixtures, luxurious furnishings and playful gramophones that project music from any mobile device.

The hotel’s 120-seat contemporary American restaurant, the Albert (a nod to the extraordinary scientist), presents seasonal, globally inspired dishes from acclaimed Executive Chef Brandon Brumback. The dynamic opening menu has been meticulously created to celebrate the fresh flavors and aromas of summer. Unlike any culinary experience in the city, the restaurant offers the warmth of a 1930s institute of higher learning, where professors swirled a scotch and talked about the mysteries of the universe. The Albert also offers an intimate 20-seat open kitchen where diners are invited behind-the-scenes to witness Brumback’s culinary canvas, firsthand, while marveling in the commissioned artwork from West Coast surrealist painter, Paul Bond, and local artist, Jonathan Plotkin. At the center of the restaurant, a glass chandelier evokes a scientific experiment and pours house-made infused liquors developed by Director of Food and Beverage Rebecca Royster.

Creative expression also extends to nearly 2,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. Honoring Emmy Noether, one of the greatest math minds of all time, and the principle of symmetry, which underlies the convergence of art and science, the two multi-functional meeting and event spaces boast blackboard-style artwork installations by Dr. Eugenia Cheng (a British mathematician, musician, author, artist and Scientist in Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago).

“I have always been fascinated by art and science, and I’m truly ecstatic to bring a hotel experience like this – geared toward both left- and right-brained guests – to Chicago,” said Scott Greenberg, President and CEO, SMASHotels. “At the core of our hotel is the idea of inspiration; we want to educate and ignite imagination and innovation at every turn, challenging guests to expand their understanding of how everything is connected. Through our partnership with Project SYNCERE, we are able to extend this passion even further.”

A shining example of the brand’s value of having a role in the community, Hotel EMC2 and Autograph Collection Hotels have committed to support the youth STEM programs of Chicago-based Project SYNCERE (Supporting Youth’s Needs with Core Engineering Research Experiments), an organization that combines art and science to create transformational experiences for youth within underserved Chicago communities. With the support of Autograph Collection Hotels and Hotel EMC2, Project SYNCERE will jump start the career exploration of 20 high school students by providing hands-on, real life engineering experience through its E-CADEMY program. The hotel will also collaborate with the organization on additional initiatives and will remain committed to the partnership beyond opening.

Hotel EMC2 is located at 228 E. Ontario Street. Room rates start at $249.00. For details on reservations, please visit or call 884-205-3939. For further information about Hotel EMC2, follow @HotelEMC2 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For more information about Autograph Collection Hotels, please visit:

Location: 228 East Ontario Street, Streeterville

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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