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PUBLIC Hotel Chicago

PUBLIC Hotel, conceived by Ian Schrager, is an entirely new class of hotel. Its fundamental attributes are innovative, sophisticated, authentic style; spot-on, personalized, empathetic “essential” service; lasting comfort with complete functionality, all at an affordable price and offering tremendous value. For the first time, this type of hotel experience will be available for everyone and anyone who wants it.

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LIVING ROOM – © PUBLIC Hotel Chicago

With the original neo-Georgian architecture playing off neutral-toned upholstered furniture with a slightly French ’40s vibe. iMac computers line up on a long wooden table. At the other end of the lobby, the Library and Coffee Bar, with its generous windows and tufted leather banquette, is grand but relaxed.

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library – © public domain

“The building is trying not to be hip,” he says. “It’s more important to be smart than to be hip. Here, we’ve jettisoned the notion of modern, of being too severe, too zealous and too overdesigned. It’s lost its gravitas. This hotel is about good, old-fashioned taste and simplicity.” – Ian Schrager

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LIBRARY – © PUBLIC Hotel Chicago

Ian Schrager has taken the best from the luxury segment, boutique hotels and select service to create a new genre of hotel where everything has been rethought and every original idea updated.

At PUBLIC, service matters most. But the key point of differentiation is in the kind and quality of services it offers. The brand will only offer services that matter, those that guests really want and need rather than an array of superfluous services they do not use.

PUBLIC Chicago is a complete transformation of the Gold Coast’s famed Ambassador East Hotel and its historic Pump Room restaurant. Rich with a cultural heritage that spans decades, the hotel and the Pump Room was a place to see and be seen and played host to a multitude of celebrities and people from all over the world and all walks of life.

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SUN ROOM – © PUBLIC Hotel Chicago

A reinvented and reimagined hotel and Pump Room with a new food concept by James Beard award winning chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, will continue to be the fashionable spot it was originally envisioned to be, for an eclectic mix of people who come together to socialize and dine as they have for past decades. It will still be the hotel and Pump Room, but better.

The Pump Room, the new incarnation of the Ambassador East’s legendary restaurant, which attracted everybody who was anybody back when. Now a sleek, neutral space dominated by resin-sphere lighting on an angular steel armature, it’s buzzy at night, but during the day it’s a bit of a downer. The celebrity photos that once adorned the walls have been relegated to the restaurant’s vestibule and the space outside the basement restrooms.

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PUMP ROOM – © PUBLIC Hotel Chicago

The Pump Room restaurant:

Pump Room, a collaboration between Yabu Pushelberg and Ian Schrager, located within the Public Hotel, won the award for North America & Canada. The idea behind the design of the restaurant was to recapture the atmosphere of the 1930′s and ’40s. This was achieved by using beiges, greys and dull whites as the main colors, along with the dark and leather-covered oak banquettes which provide for a very intimate and indeed vintage feel. Additionally, there are photos of the former patrons of the restaurant, while the wall behind the bar is covered with gold leaf.

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PUMP ROOM – © PUBLIC Hotel Chicago

  • Surrounded by custom white gold leaf walls with muted tones of gold, grey, and brown with a pop of moss green, the Pump Room’s private dining space can host up to 26 seated guests or 40 guests reception style.
  • A custom, warm grey wool felt curtain sections off the private dining space from the main room to create an intimate environment that maintains the restaurant’s vibrant energy.
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PUMP ROOM BAR – © PUBLIC Hotel Chicago

The Pump Room restaurant offers reasonably priced, delicious favorites in a relaxed, comfortable and exciting environment. The new food concept was created by world-renowned chef and 2011 James Beard award winner Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Original Pump Room menu classics were re-invented and re-created by Jean-Georges providing his special touch and amazing style. He will support local purveyors, regional flavors and offer a “farm to table” experience, as well as a daily special chef’s tasting menu of the most unique creations for a real surprising, theatrical, fun and unique food experience.

At night, the restaurant’s bar transforms into a supper club recapturing the glamour of the 30’s and 40’s with a modern twist. Offerings include late night tapas style food including Asian, Indian, and other exotic global specialties; local, domestic and international draught and bottled beer; exotic, specialty cocktails by our own mixologist, and great music.

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PUMP ROOM – © public domain

Pump Room History:

The restaurant served a number of celebrities who were regular customers and has been written about in books and articles. Lucius Beebe, gourmand, author and journalist, included references to The Pump Room in some of his books and articles. Arturo Petterino (1920–2010) was its maitre d’ for many years, steering celebrity patrons to the coveted Booth One. Famous guests included Frank Sinatra, John Barrymore, Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Beverly Sills, David Bowie, Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Ronald Reagan, Paul Harvey, Helen Hayes, Clark Gable, Sammy Davis Jr., Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, Elizabeth Taylor, Lena Horne, Joan Crawford, Tallulah Bankhead, Audrey Hepburn, Liza Minnelli, Robert Redford, Bill Murray, Josephine Baker, Phil Collins, Gertrude Lawrence, Eddie Fisher, Michael J. Fox, John Belushi, Eddie Murphy, Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner, Mel Brooks, Olivia Newton-John, Peggy Lee, Mick Jagger and many others.

In April 2010, the Ambassador East Hotel was sold to Ian Schrager Co. It closed in 2011 and was completely remodeled as the Public Chicago Hotel. The Pump Room reopened in fall 2011, with food concepts by Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

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PUMP ROOM – © public domain

Guest rooms and Suites:

PUBLIC Chicago’s 285 spacious and oversized guest rooms and suites are individually furnished with integrity, taste and superb functionality. Decorated in a soothing, “no color” color palette, the interiors evoke a sense of ease and comfort and the character of a home away from home.

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The 285 guest rooms, done in a spectrum of pale shades, are almost shockingly simple. A platform bed with a rift-cut bleachedoak headboard, inspired by a John Pawson design in Schrager’s home; a stripped-down steel desk; and a dark walnut-stained wooden chair are the primary furnishings. “There’s an effortless quality at work here, a release from the over-styled that returns Ian to his roots with Andrée Putman at Morgans in New York,” Yabu suggests.

In the walnut-paneled screening room, huge seating pods, L-shape sofas, and loads of pillows and sheepskin throws suggest a 1970’s rumpus room on steroids. In guest rooms, vintage postcards of jazz greats are placed randomly on the walls, smack against a door frame or off in a corner. Nonetheless, the muted design is different from the dramatic approach employed by Schrager over the years. Yabu Pushelberg successfully telegraphs not so much hipness or luxury but rather a sense that, of course, a hotel should look like this.

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Ian Schrager:

Since the 70’s, entrepreneur Ian Schrager, Founder and Chairman of Ian Schrager Company, has achieved international recognition for concepts that have revolutionized the entertainment, residential and hospitality industries.

His passionate commitment to the modern lifestyle has been expressed through a series of pioneering concepts: The hotel as home away from home, the hotel as theater, “cheap chic”, “lobby socializing”, the indoor/outdoor lobby, the urban resort, and the urban spa.
His keen instincts for the mood and feel of popular culture were honed during the 70’s and 80’s, when he and his late business partner, Steve Rubell, created the legendary Studio 54 and Palladium nightclubs. They soon turned their attention to the hotel business opening Morgans Hotel in 1984, introducing the concept of the “boutique hotel” to the world.

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Following this were the equally well received and highly successful Royalton Hotel and Paramount Hotel, in which Schrager again broke with industry convention by introducing “lobby socializing”, where the hotel lobby became a new kind of gathering place for guests and New York City residentsalike, and “cheap chic”, where affordable luxury was offered in a stylish and sophisticated environment. Schrager also received internationalrecognition and acclaim for his one-of-a-kind “urban resorts” – the Delano Hotel in Miami and Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood. This was followed by the Hudson Hotel in New York, where Schrager realized his “hotel as lifestyle”, and continued to refine his concept of “cheap chic”, as well as expanding to cities such as San Francisco with the Clift Hotel and London with St. Martins Lane Hotel and the Sanderson Hotel.

In 2005, Schrager sold Morgans Hotel Group, a company he founded, to create Ian Schrager Company which owns, develops and manages hotels, residential and mixed use projects. Since then, he has transformed the fabled Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City and created two groundbreaking residential properties, 40 Bond and 50 Gramercy Park North. He is currently working on two new hotel brands.

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© public domain

About – PUBLIC Hotel:

PUBLIC is the first of 2 new brands being launched by Ian Schrager.

With the transformation of the famed, iconic Ambassador East Hotel and its legendary Pump Room into PUBLIC Chicago, this endeavor will be more than just a rebirth of a Chicago institution – it may well represent the revitalization of the hotel concept itself and another worldwide wakeup call for the entire industry.

PUBLIC is a new class… a new breed of hotel. Its fundamental attributes are innovative, sophisticated, authentic style (something we have come to expect from Schrager); spot-on, personalized empathetic “essential” service that makes people feel special; lasting comfort with complete functionality, all at a tremendous value. For the first time, this type of hotel experience will be available for everyone and anyone who wants it. What is unusual is that it is inclusive, rather than exclusive. Ian Schrager has taken the best from the luxury set, the best from the boutique/lifestyle set and the best from the limited service model and created a new kind of hotel where everything has been rethought and every original idea updated. This brand will be defined by the unique experience it creates rather than by a business classification or price point.

At PUBLIC service matters most. But the key point of differentiation is in the kind and quality of services it offers. The brand will only offer services that matter, those that guests really want and need rather than an array of superfluous services they do not use. For Schrager, this marks a new approach devoid of excess and a rejection of the old-fashioned idea of what defines “luxury” and what it actually means to people.

  • The PUBLIC in Chicago is just the first of what Schrager hopes will be a national brand, with hotels in every major city. “This is a different space that’s as barren as the boutique space was 25 years ago,” when he started the boutique hotel trend, and the business model is definitely more appealing for what might be a somewhat cash-strapped decade to come. Rooms at the PUBLIC start around $120/night, but they’re offering a Bolt Bus-esque $1/night promotion, too, to really drive home the point.
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Project Data:

Project name: PUBLIC Hotel Chicago
Location: 1301 North State Parkway, Chicago, Illinois 60610-2145, United States
Coordinates: 41.906038, -87.628564
Type: Hotel Interior
Hotel Size: 285 Rooms & Suites

  • Guestroom – 225-295 sq.ft
  • Guestroom Doubles – 300-325 sq.ft
  • Superior King – 300-325 sq.ft
  • Deluxe King – 395-425 sq.ft
  • Loft rooms – 465-480 sq.ft
  • One Bedroom Suites – 600-650 sq.ft
  • Deluxe One Bedroom Suites – 800-850 sq.ft
  • Celebrity Suites – 800 – 1200 sq.ft

Project Year: 2010-2011
First opened: 1938
Status: Completed
Completion Year: 2012
Visit PUBLIC Hotel Chicago’s website: here


  • 2013 – Tripadvisor Hotel Ranking – Ranked No.69 of 164 hotels in Chicago
  • 2012 – Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Awards – Restaurant & Bar Design Awards – Category: International – North America & Canada – Winner

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Ian Schrager– 818 Greenwich Street New York NY 10014 United States
Interior Designer: Yabu Pushelberg – 88 Prince Street, New York 10012, United States
Project Team: Cherie Stinson, Robert Walshaw, Eduardo Mora, Crawford Noble, Heidi Rose, Carrie Stinson, Jennifer Lem, Lisa Ho, Kevin Storey, Jennifer Mcke
Lighting consultants: Isometrix Lighting + Design: Tillotson Design Associates
Structural engineer: Bowman, Barrett & Associates
MEP: WMA Consulting Engineers
General Contractor: Pepper Construction Group
Text Description: © Courtesy of PUBLIC Hotel Chicago, Ian Schrager, interiordesign
Images: © PUBLIC Hotel Chicago

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PUBLIC Hotel Chicago / Ian Schrager
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