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B&A Helps Pen Chicago Athletic Association’s New Chapter

The transformation of the Chicago Athletic Association (CAA) into a world-class boutique hotel was debuted to the public today. As general contractor, Bulley & Andrews leveraged its historical expertise and large-scale renovation experience to execute the project with a balance between tight controls and flexibility.

Crews worked double shifts to complete the renovation which included buildout of the hotel’s 241 rooms, restore the club’s most iconic spaces, and complete the rooftop addition. As with most projects of this type, the renovation has been an exercise in discovery and creative response.

From the outset, the construction team recognized that surprises come hand-in-hand with modernizing 120-year-old buildings (not to mention one that was shuttered for seven years). In anticipation, they worked closely with owners AJ Capital and Commune Hotels + Resorts, construction manager JLL, Hartshorne Plunkard Architects, and the interiors firm Roman + Williams, to put in place technologies and processes that would mitigate the impact of conditions that had yet to manifest.

CAA comprises two structures: the first designed by architect Henry Ives Cobb for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, is located immediately opposite Millennium Park at 12 South Michigan Avenue. A second building (around the corner at 71 East Madison Street) was constructed in 1907 and expanded in 1926. The two buildings connect via interior walkways.

When the renovation began, no official drawings were available for either building. In response, Bulley & Andrews laser scanned the entire building to capture the most accurate measurements possible. After being verified, the data served as the basis of a three-dimensional model.

CAA’s plurality of unique spaces is one of the building’s most distinctive features and biggest challenges; nothing about the hotel is cookie-cutter. For example, of the 241 guest rooms, there are at least 40 different configurations and sizes. As such, the BIM model minimized clashes among systems prior to installation in the field.

Bulley & Andrews also equipped all of its project personnel with tablets, giving them access to the most up-to-date job communications, as well as allowing them to use the model as a communication tool when meeting at any location on the site.

After two years of meticulous care and attention to detail, the restoration of the Chicago Athletic Association is complete. As the first guests are welcomed to the new hotel, they will have a host of amenities to choose from including a speakeasy game room, new restaurants and a bicycle fleet designed by Heritage Bicycles. One of the hotel’s most notable features is a new rooftop bar that offers spectacular views of Millennium Park, The Art Institute, and the lake beyond. Upon opening, it will surely be one of the premier destinations in the city.