Creating a new standard for urban hotels, theWit, located at the historic intersection of State and Lake streets in downtown Chicago, is a groundbreaking achievement. Like the powerful yellow lightning bolt on the front façade of the property, innovation strikes at every turn at theWit.

theWit Hotel

The $62-million high-rise construction project took place on a very narrow lot. The design called for extra-thick concrete slabs and shear walls were located to keep the interior of the building as open as possible in order to maximize event space. The building is adjoined by train tracks and an electrical station, which presented its own challenges.

Key Players

Owner: Scott Greenberg, ECD Co., Lincolnshire, Ill.
General Contractor: James McHugh Construction Co., Chicago
Design Firm: Jackie Koo Architects, Chicago

In addition, earth retention had to be specially designed to protect neighboring buildings during construction of underground offices and mechanical rooms. Deep foundations had to be designed and poured with special consideration in order not to undermine the transit authority’s elevated tracks.

To meet the challenges, the project team developed a strategic system of responses to alleviate any potential project disturbances. One such response was strategically pressure grouting underground areas where it suspected voids, in order to avoid complications during caisson installations. Another such response was constructing a complex curtain wall system that included numerous folds in the glass. A third was extensive testing and re-engineering to meet wind-load requirements and to avoid water infiltration.

The team also upgraded the glass to minimize train noise and improve the building’s acoustics. Finally, given the cold Chicago winter, the team enclosed the building prior to winter and refocused on making progress on the interior.

In all, theWit transforms a 9,500-sq-ft pad of land in a key downtown corridor that has languished for 30 years into a vibrant 250,000-sq-ft, 27-story package of entertainment experiences. The result: 298 hotel rooms (including 60 suites with kitchenettes); a 40-seat, $1-million high-tech multi-media digital theater, three restaurants, a full-service spa and highly functional banquet and meeting space.