Commons Club at Virgin Hotels* – StudioGronda
Restaurant/Bar Commons Club at Virgin Hotels*Chicago, USA
Courtesy of Rockwell Group and Virgin Hotels. Completed while a Managing Director at Rockwell Group, Madrid. Photography © Eric Laignel.

Blending Work and Play in a Fun and Relaxed Setting

At the heart of Virgin Hotels Chicago is the 569 m2 Commons Club on the first floor, a dynamic gathering place that integrates the Commons Bar, the Shag Room, the Funny Library, and the Kitchen. Guests can use the library as a temporary office, meet in the lounge areas, and enjoy a meal from the open kitchen. The continuous space blurs the lines between work and play, defying the single-use concept of space that is the norm in more traditional hotels. There is an interesting variety of seating options and custom drapery systems allow for changing spatial configurations and sightlines. The Commons Club is open and transparent during the day and closes into a more intimate experience as dusk approaches.

Virgin Hotels Chicago is located in the Old Dearborn Bank building, a 26-story Art Deco landmark. It was important to create a modern hotel that still honors the integrity of the historic architectural fabric. Several of the building’s original features were restored and are showcased throughout the hotel. A lot of effort went into recapturing the double-height atrium where the Commons Bar is located. It took months to build new molds to restore the original coffered plaster ceiling.

The oval-shaped custom bar at the Commons Club is the largest freestanding intervention designed for the hotel. It provides a focal point with its exposed filament pendant lights, zinc bar top and red leather cladding. The juxtaposition of historic and contemporary elements throughout the Commons Club brings a new energy to the former banking hall, yet it’s never overpowering.

Adjacent to the Commons Bar is the Shag Room, a semi-private space for socializing in small parties. A velvet drapery envelops the circular space and creates an intimate seating area. Custom overhead lighting can be switched to different colors to set the mood. Space planning was vital in designing the Commons Club. There is a flow from one space to the next that allows for a seamless and dynamic experience and encourages a vibrant atmosphere. Moving through the Commons Bar, guests come upon the Kitchen. Designed to bring people together, the Kitchen features a large communal table as well as seating booths where guests can have a casual and relaxing dining experience facing the open kitchen.

*Completed while a Managing Director at Rockwell Group, Madrid.