The Langham, Chicago

The Langham, Chicago is a rectangular prism of bronze-tinted aluminum and bronze glass resting on columns and a classic example of a modern skyscraper.

The Langham, Chicago is a rectangular prism of bronze-tinted aluminum and bronze glass resting on columns and a classic example of a modern skyscraper. Mies Van der Rohe designed the 52-story landmark in the late 1960s when it was originally IBM Plaza. Floors 2-13 were refurbished for the hotel and the project was completed in July 2013.

Richmond Group, the project’s primary architect, found the challenge was to create a series of interiors in Langham’s traditional design sensibility set in a mid-century modern building. Deborah Bray, associate at Richmond Group, says the project stands out from others her company has worked on due to the challenge of encapsulating traditional brand values associated with the Langham hotel in van der Rohe’s modern structure. “We wanted to emphasize the extensive use of glass on the façade, to deliver an individual and innovative design, which reflected the linear elements of the existing architecture,” Bray says.

Dirk Lohan, of Lohan Anderson, and who is van der Rohe’s grandson, designed the ground floor lobby. It features some original furnishings inspired by van der Rohe and pays tribute to his grandfather’s style by showcasing period and contemporary influences.

Richmond Group cut spaces from van der Rohe’s plan to create double-height ceilings in the main public spaces, which allows light and city views to become part of the interior architecture. Alliance Glazing Technologies installed three-story structural glass curtainwalls to pull the lobby space together.

Bray says representatives of The Langham, Chicago wanted glass used on level three to maintain views across the double-height space toward the river and lake. “This also allows the two spaces to connect visually whilst retaining a level of acoustic separation, and increases the appearance of space,” she says.

Glass surrounds the second story of the lobby and the Langham Club. The perimeter is detailed with a double-laminated, beveled glass and mirrorpanel surround framed in brass. Alliance Glazing Technologies and GLASSsource developed a new process for the complex design. Jim Arnold, president of GLASSsource, says the idea was for the floor-to-ceiling panels of glass on the second-floor mezzanine in the main lobby to have a beveled glass and brass divider look made of different-sized, small pieces of beveled glass. “The bevels and the monolithic panel had to be extremely flat for the bond to work and the tolerances on the overall size of each panel had to be CNC (computer numerical control)- controlled to maintain the pattern and alignment and allow for the insertion of the individually cut and fit brass strips that go between each panel,” he says.

Jim Juers, senior project manager at Alliance Glazing Technologies, says his company is known for attention to detail. “The UV bond glue is a one shot product,” he says. “We developed a special process to make sure each panel was perfect through all five layers.”

The composite glass panels consist of a 3/8-inch low-iron glass main panel with a 1/4-inch low-iron beveled panel UV bonded to the face. After the panels were bonded, they were assembled into satin brass bar framework and adhered to the back glass between the beveled panels.

Rockwell International, New York City, another architecture firm that worked on the project, designed the restaurant, bar and lounge. The Langham, Chicago has 320 rooms, a spa, restaurants, bars, function rooms, and views of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan.

Alliance Glazing Technologies installed Guardian Industries’ Switch Lite glass, a Liquid Crystal Technology, in a wet room with a deep soaking tub and rain shower that turns from clear to opaque with the press of a button.

Architects: Richmond Group, London, and Lohan Anderson, Chicago

Installers: Alliance Glazing Technologies, Romeoville, Ill., and GLASSsource, Golden Valley, Minn.

Glass: Guardian Industries, Auburn Hills, Mich.,