Swissôtel’s Awkward Protrusion to Get Bigger
Aug28

Swissôtel’s Awkward Protrusion to Get Bigger

Since Lakeshore East is in the news this week, here’s a little nugget of neighbor news: The Swissôtel at 323 East Wacker Drive is getting a small expansion. If you’ve ever walked by the hotel, you may have noticed the awkward outdoor seating area next to the slightly-less-awkward annex that houses The Palm restaurant. That outdoor seating area is going away, to be replaced by an annex to the annex to the hotel in order to...

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No More Arches; New Downtown Flagship McDonald’s Embraces the Modern Aesthetic
Jan31

No More Arches; New Downtown Flagship McDonald’s Embraces the Modern Aesthetic

For the second time since we started this publication, the flagship McDonald’s restaurant at Clark and Ontario in Near North is being torn down and replaced by a better, shinier McDonald’s. The last time this happened was back in 2005, when the Rock-n-Roll McDonald’s was razed to make way for the current massively be-arched hamburger joint.  In spite of the musical memorabilia being relegated to a kiosk in the...

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Slice of Life: Portillo’s (Chocolate-Cake) Shakes Up the South Loop
Apr09

Slice of Life: Portillo’s (Chocolate-Cake) Shakes Up the South Loop

We don’t normally get involved in stand-alone restaurant construction here at Chicago Architecture. But this isn’t a normal situation. This is about lunch. It’s about not having to settle for the 6,284 lunch options already available within walking distance (we take long lunch breaks around here) of our desks. This is about the South Loop getting its very first Portillo’s restaurant. If you have a beef with...

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Parks Promoters Warn Chicago’s Greenspace Being Nibbled to Death
Apr06

Parks Promoters Warn Chicago’s Greenspace Being Nibbled to Death

  A restaurant here, a museum there, and the next thing you know — there’s no more parks.  That’s the warning coming from the Friends of the Parks organization over the latest round of plans to repurpose Chicago’s parkland. FotP is well-known for its battle against the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which the city wants to plop onto a surface parking lot near Soldier Field.  It’s also fighting...

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Throwback Thursday: Memories Writ in Neon and Cheese
Mar12

Throwback Thursday: Memories Writ in Neon and Cheese

Chicago doesn’t have a minimum neon requirement in its business signs like Las Vegas does. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t prominent examples of the illuminating art around town. This sign for Papa Milano’s (951 North State Street) was a landmark in the Gold Coast neighborhood for decades, though the original restaurant opened on Diversey Parkway in 1933 (or maybe the other way around; the Tribune and the...

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A Doggone Good Outcome For Maggie Daley Park’s Unpopular Canine Ban
Feb27

A Doggone Good Outcome For Maggie Daley Park’s Unpopular Canine Ban

There were no TV crews at the Grant Park Advisory Council & Conservancy meeting on Thursday night. Not like a month ago when the agenda included the park’s dog ban—a move that generated considerable resident and media heat. No, the fourth estate has moved on, attracted to the next shiny object. In fact, the audience of locals was quite a bit smaller this time as well. The only thing I witnessed that might pass for canine activism...

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Bar Takito Stands Out In West Loop Restaurant Scene With A Wild And Colorful Décor
Jan14

Bar Takito Stands Out In West Loop Restaurant Scene With A Wild And Colorful Décor

In the rough and tumble, hyper-competitive restaurant business, it’s not enough to offer good food and service. The look has to be right. Restaurants routinely hire consultants and designers who specialize in achieving an atmosphere with a special vibe that will generate the buzz that attracts a hip clientele. So, where does that leave an earnest restaurateur with a limited budget and no corporate sugar daddy? “Go with what feels...

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Prestigious Nobu Hotel Clears Hurdle With (Mostly) Positive Feedback from the West Loop
Jun11

Prestigious Nobu Hotel Clears Hurdle With (Mostly) Positive Feedback from the West Loop

  Tough crowd, these West Loopers. Even the prospect of Robert De Niro strolling down the aisle of Mariano’s wasn’t sufficient to convince some residents of the merits of a proposed Nobu Hotel and Restaurant at West Randolph and North Peoria Streets.   But then, even if Michael Jordan and Mike Ditka presented plans for a 30-story tower west of Halsted, these folks would likely ride them out of town on a Metra train. Indeed,...

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[Video] Chicago’s Version of a Sky Mall Debuts at O’Hare
Apr04

[Video] Chicago’s Version of a Sky Mall Debuts at O’Hare

Veteran flyers have long considered the international terminal at O’Hare airport to be something less than ideal.  Amenities-wise, once you were on the airside, you were pretty much stuck with the water fountains and whatever goodies made it past the T.S.A. That’s all in the past now that the city has officially opened its new Terminal Five experience, with the help of a company best known for its shopping malls. Westfield...

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A Look Inside Fulton Market’s Newest Kitchen
Mar06

A Look Inside Fulton Market’s Newest Kitchen

Another restaurant is getting ready to open its doors in West Town, and the owners are so proud of their space that they sent over some pictures of the decor. Fulton Market Kitchen (311 North Sangamon Street) is scheduled to open on Friday, March 21st.  We’d like to tell you what kind of food to expect, but we won’t for two reasons.  First, because we’re an architecture blog and are only mentioning this because the...

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