BOSTON, Oct. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The InterContinental Hotel Group has named the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza Hotel Renovation-of-the-Year for fashioning an entire new look for the property that includes the Lobbies, Function Space, two new eateries and 521 guestrooms and suites by J/Brice Design International, Inc. headquartered in Boston, MA.
Commenting on the annual industry-wide award, General Manager Tony Miu termed the new look a, "Transformation," adding, "The J/Brice Design team gave the lobby spaces character in what used to be a big empty, pass-through void. They suggested different levels for the lobby to define the space and make it more comfortable and functional for our guests. They added a water feature as a focal point. People linger now. The space is beautiful."
Despite the scope and complexity of pulling off a 20,000 square foot, $26 million renovation project in perhaps Chicago's busiest business property - it sits atop Chicago's Merchandise Mart, Miu credited the design team for meeting the challenges and pressures of a renovation of this size and complexity with ease and minimal intrusion. "They were cool under pressure."
Hostmark Hospitality Group, which manages Chicago Mart Plaza, wanted to re-brand the property, "Fashionably corporate in America's Commercial Center. The renovation is a Devine Redesign, Uptown, Upscale, and Distinctive."
According to Jeffrey Ornstein, CEO and founder of J/Brice Design, "We listened to Hostmark's desire for the space and the kind of guest experience they wanted. The result is a respite from business pressures that simultaneously captures the allure of Chicago's heartbeat and soul."
J/Brice Design International's client base is divided about equally between new and renovations projects in the US and new hotel and resort development in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and in 2010, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Libya and Zanzibar. The international design firm, founded two decades ago, has also created interiors for Hostmark's Amalfi Hotel, Chicago; the Queen Mary, Long Beach, the Wyndham Boston, Andover, MA and The Doubletree, Tampa, FL.
"We wanted guests to feel like they could see and be seen in the public areas. There is a minimum of use of sofas for wallowing. Instead, we made the seating moveable, mostly ottomans and backless upholstered pieces. The furnishings invite guests to create their own seating arrangements and by doing so they create their own experience. The sense of distinctive areas is enhanced by the unique oversize custom carpet design that gives the public space definition and directionality. The carpet patterns are especially dramatic when seen for the balconies of the 10-story atrium. "
This may not be the Chicago of the epitomes Kander and Ebb musical set in the 1930s. Nevertheless, Chicago is a legendary city that expresses, "American exuberance. We wanted this property to deliver on that promise of Chicago. No matter where you are -- public space or guestroom - you are connected to the Chicago experience - a city known for great eateries, cool jazz, commodity trading, a gregarious social scene and style," Ornstein notes.
Ornstein is regarded throughout the hospitality industry for creating guest-centric interiors based on society and contemporary culture that place guest experience ahead of architecture. He coined the term, designer as "cultural spy" and has called for hotel design to be renamed hotel "fashion" to place the focus on people rather than buildings and to reflect the role of designer as an interpreter of contemporary culture.
To underscore the relationship between lodging and location, "Our team took full advantage of the hotel's spectacular views. We made the city vistas seen from so many large expanses of windows an integral part of the interior design theme. Whether relaxing at the CityScape Bar, or en route to one of the spectacular ballrooms, the city views dominate -- functioning as works of art throughout the interior."
He added, "The views are so vital that we actually played down the installation artwork to focus guest attention on the relationship of the property to its locale. The ebb and flow of the Chicago, the movement of Lake Michigan, the changing light patterns are far more kinetic and unique to the property than any painting or lithograph could ever be."
The firm also made tremendous use of translucent glass, starting with the front desk where low lighting fixtures bring down the scale of the lobby and lend a welcoming amber glow to the check-in experience. "Glass is the ultimate building material. It lasts forever while having a sense being liquid, of continuously moving, changing the character of light. Scientifically speaking, glass never really hardens into solid and is always flowing to reinforce the sense of energy. Most notably, Italiasia, the newly created Italian/Asian fusion restaurant makes superb use of reds and orange translucency. The quality of the materials creates reinforces the urban sense of chic without being cliché or forced."
InterContinental Hotel Group awards Renovation-of-the-Year to properties in the Western Hemisphere that have completed a major renewal during the past year. In addition to earning the InterContinental award, Crain's Chicago Business named the Chicago Mart Plaza one of the Best Hotels for Business Travel. J/Brice is a preferred design firm for Hostmark Hospitality Group, one of the hospitality industry's largest independent hospitality management companies. Founded in 1965, Hostmark has managed more than 300 hotels in 40 states, the Caribbean, Canada and the Middle East.
Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza is located above Chicago's famed Merchandise Mart, 350 West Mart Center, Chicago, IL 312-836-5000 www.martplaza.com
Photo: Tony Miu, general manager, Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza (L) and Jeffrey Ornstein, award-winning founder and CEO of J/Brice Design International, Inc.
J/BRICE DESIGN INTERNATIONAL, INC. (www.jbricedesign.com) is a global hospitality industry design leader, Certified Interior Design and Architectural Giant whose recent engagements include the Khalifa Hotel in Doha, Qatar, destined to be landmark in this burgeoning new Arabian destination, and the fabled HMS Queen Mary, the 1934 luxury ocean liner that has been transformed into one of North America's the most popular travel destinations and event venues. The firm ranks among the three largest independent hospitality design firms in the New York City - New England region and has been cited as being among the ten fastest-growing design firms in the North America in 2000 and 2008.
J/Brice Design is under contract with several resort and hotel projects now underway in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Additional international credentials include TAJ Hotels, several boutique properties in Dubai, and upcoming signature real estate developments in Bahrain, Ethiopia, Jordan, Libya, and Tanzania.
In the US, J/Brice is a preferred design group for Marriott International / Renaissance, Hotels Hilton Hotels -(including all Full Service, Corporate & Franchise properties, Doubletree Hotels and Hampton Inn brands) Hyatt Hotels, , Starwood - including Sheraton, Westin, and 4-Points, Intercontinental Hotel Group (All brands) and Trump International Beach Resorts. New York City credits include icons such as The Helmsley, The Waldorf-Astoria and The Muse.
J/Brice Design Studios & Offices are located in Boston, MA and Al Khobar, The Kingdom Saudi Arabia.
HOSTMARK HOSPITALITY GROUP (www.hostmark.com) is a leading hospitality management firm operating upscale full service hotels, resorts, focused service hotels and restaurants worldwide. Headquartered in Schaumburg, IL, with Development offices in Boulder, CO, and Cairo, Egypt, Hostmark Hospitality Group is an award-winning operator of Marriott, Hilton, and InterContinental Hotels Group, Starwood and Wyndham Hotels. Under consistent leadership spanning more than four decades, Hostmark Hospitality Group operates independent boutique hotels as well as other luxury resorts, attractions and concept restaurants. Hostmark Hospitality Group has a proven longstanding reputation for performance-driven results through superior operating and asset management.
SOURCE J/Brice Design International, Inc.