May 10, 2014

Chicago Design Hotspots

This spring, the 24th annual James Beard Foundation Awards honored Jensen Architects and Lawton Stanley Architects for their outstanding work in restaurant design, the latter for Grace in Chicago in the 75 seats and under category. Inspired by the restaurant’s chef, the architects chose to highlight materials in an unfinished and minimalist style. Brown ash, raw leather and wool, oil-rubbed bronze, and patinated steel all come into play, but the unmistakable centerpiece is the glass box kitchen, which gives guests a direct view of cooking activity. Restaurateur Caroline Styne, also a juror for the foundation, observed, “The juxtaposition of materials and textures throughout the space creates a beautiful tension that gives this quiet space an undercurrent of excitement.”

And last year, The Aviary co-founder Nick Kokonas was our personal host at this hot new drinks “restaurant” where every cocktail is served up as if it’s the main entrée at a four-star venue. And that’s exactly the point, says Kokonas, who dropped out of college as a philosophy major on his first day, but still talks about food and drink in a very esoteric way. “We are single-handedly changing the experience of restaurants,” says Kokonas. The Aviary is no ordinary craft cocktail bar.

Keep reading for more of the city’s hotspots, from architectural icons to top eats.


North Lake Shore Drive

860–880 North Lake Shore Drive
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, with Pace Associates and Holsman, Holsman,
Klekamp & Taylor, 1952
rookery The Rookery
209 S. LaSalle St.
Burnham & Root, 1885–1888; lobbies and light court: Frank Lloyd Wright, 1907
the john hancock center John Hancock Center
875 N. Michigan Ave.
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, 1969
the tribune Tribune Tower
435 N. Michigan Ave.
Howells & Hood, 1925
willis tower skydeck Sears Tower
233 S. Wacker Dr.
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, 1974
chicago water tower Chicago Water Tower and Pumping Station
806/811 N. Michigan Ave.
William W. Boyington, 1866, 1869
unity temple Unity Temple
875 Lake St., Oak Park
Frank Lloyd Wright, 1909
wrigley building Wrigley Building
400 N. Michigan Ave.
Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, 1920, 1924

Bars & Restaurants

Grace restaurant Grace
652 West Randolph Street, Chicago IL 60661
Aviary The Aviary
955 West Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607
the landmark club The Landmark Club at the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Chicago
Designed by Gary Lee Partners
118 East Erie Street, Chicago, IL 60611
Little Goat Diner Little Goat Diner
820 West Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60607
maude Maude’s Liquor Bar
840 West Randolph, Chicago, IL 60622
studio paris Paris Club Chicago
59 West Hubbard, Chicago, IL 60654
the pump room The Pump Room
Designed by Yabu Pushelberg
Public Hotel, 1301 North State Parkway, Chicago, IL 60610
sepia restaurant Sepia
Designed by Gary Lee Partners
123 North Jeferrson Street, Chicago, IL 60661
the tasting room
The Tasting Room

1415 West Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60607


theartinstitute The Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
garfieldpark Garfield Park Conservatory
300 North Central Park, Chicago, IL 60624
millennium park Millennium Park
201 East Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60686
lincoln park conservatory Lincoln Park Conservatory
2391 North Stockton Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

Sweet Treats

black dog gelato Black Dog Gelato
859 North Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622
hotchocolate Hot Chocolate
1747 North Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647
molly Molly’s Cupcakes
2536 North Clark Street, Chicago IL 60614

Recent Projects