Hotel EMC2

Hotel EMC2

Rockwell Group
228East Ontario Street, Chicago, Illinois, USA | View Map
Project Year
Michael Kleinberg

Hotel EMC2, Autograph Collection

Rockwell Group as Architects


Hotel EMC2, Autograph Collection, occupies a new21-story building in Chicago, located near Northwestern University’s medical campus and local technology firms.


Design Concept:

Rockwell Group wanted to capture a moment produced by the intersecting worlds of art and science. The design concept celebrates their sense of discovery, creativity, and innovation. A curated collection of original artwork by local and international artists is featured throughout the hotel’s public areas including the lobby, elevator bank, and restaurant.


Design Details:


As a centerpiece to the two-story volume, a freestanding assemblage of bookcases piled on top of each other creates a place of exploration for the guest. Inspired by the artist and scientist’s shared interest in collecting, it conveys a sense of discovery and wonder, similar to an attic or contemporary cabinet of curiosities. The bookcase wall extends into the lobby, enveloping the reception area and creating nooks and crannies of curiosities. Guests can explore, sit within, and ascend the quirky jumble of art, objects, and books.


Small groupings of eclectic furniture, leather and overdyed area rugs provide an area to relax and add to the lobby’s residential feel. The custom reception desk is a bright polished rose gold and glass. A folding screen depicting a dream state of cloud formations in a digital print on fabric serves as a backdrop for the reception desk. In the elevator lobby, two-way mirrors above and inside the elevators conceal video screens, creating a seamless digital art installation of ink dropping from above, into the elevators as the doors open.


Archive Lounge and Conference Room

An interior staircase in the bookcase leads guests to the second floor Archive Lounge and event space.The lounge is a comfortable, playful space with plush seating and modern furnishings in rich hues of rose gold, browns, and greens. A custom oversized vintage steamer trunks opens up to reveal a breakfast nook in the morning and a cocktail bar at night. Off to the side, a glass-walled multi-purposeroomoverlooks the restaurant’s communal kitchen below. Designed to be a flexible space, the room can serve as a private dining room while the lounge can be re-configured as a VIP area or pre-function space for business meetings and events.


The Albert Restaurant

On the first floor adjacent to the lobby, the120-seat TheAlbert servesglobally inspired cuisine and handcrafted cocktails to hotel guests and locals alike. A casual neighborhood place, Albert is an airy, double-height space with cozy seating groupings to create a smaller and more intimate-scale for diners.


Continuing the exploration of the cross-pollination of science and art, a custom chandeliercomprised of large glass cylinders filled with house-made infused liquors is suspended over the copper and enamel-clad bar. Artwork in different stages – sketches, watercolors, and oil paintings – and sprayed with an ombré finish will line the back wall.


Chef’s tables inside a large expo kitchen partially concealed from the dining area by ribbed glass panels will offer diners a theatrical culinary experience. A bottle-green glass tile wall, wood and bronze dining tables, and a chandelier of copper pots add warmth and whimsy to a clean white space. In the morning, the expo kitchen can be closed off to serve a breakfast room for hotel guests who can enter the space through the bookcase wall. Just outside the expo kitchen, a long curved banquette set in front of a Surrealist mural by local cartoon artist Jonathan Plotkincreates another unique seating option for diners.



Located on floors 4-21, the 195 guestrooms celebrate the scientist and artist’s interests in discovery, invention, and creativity. The corridors leading to the rooms feature custom carpet inspired by images of molecules magnified under a microscope, which create vibrant, abstracted patterns. Room numbers next to each door are revealed through an illuminated looking glass. Custom video art installations revealing the processes of painting and drawing are projected onto a canvas panel in a metal frame hung directly across from the elevator banks on the guestroom floors.


The simple yet refined residential aesthetic of the rooms is balanced with imaginative, custom touches. The bed is framed by a channel-tufted leather headboard. A copper frame sits above to display artwork on a canvas stretched across the frame with leather straps. An over-scale perforated metal lantern set atop a wooden base cleverly conceals a minibar and casts a luminous glow from within. A copper pole next to the desk supports a brass phonograph-style speaker, adjustable lamps, and rotating wooden desk drawers.


A mosaic tile lined bathroom lies behind a sliding door and curtain that conceals a ribbed glass shower wall. Copper details are continued in the bathroom, including a vanity made from metal tubing; a curvilinear utility pole outfitted with lighting, mirrors, and a towel rack; and a showerhead with exposed copper pipes. A playful graphic on the ceiling of each bathroom engages the guest and livens the space with a sense of humor.

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