The Chicago Motor Club building is a historic city landmark that still embodies the Art Deco design elements that have long been held as cultural treasures. The 17-story building, which first opened in 1928 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, features an iconic 29-foot mural in the grand lobby that highlights popular driving destinations of the building’s original tenants across a map of the United States.
In 1986, the Chicago Motor Club relocated its headquarters to Des Plaines, Ill., leaving the original building to new ownership. When Hampton by Hilton approached the building’s then-owners with hopes of transforming it into a hotel, the hotel chain was met with the daunting task of undergoing a full renovation of the historic space that had been unoccupied since 2004. One of the developer’s key challenges was installing an updated, efficient heating and cooling system without disturbing or disrupting the building’s historic—and protected—architecture.
It was imperative that the renovated building maintained its original appearance as a tribute to car culture. Before the transformation of a hotel even began, State Mechanical Services, Aurora, Ill., the installing mechanical contractor, was hand-selected to provide a heating and air conditioning system that would allow the Chicago Motor Club to keep its architectural integrity, while also serving its new purpose in a practical manner—providing guest comfort. It was also essential that any HVAC equipment installed in the Chicago Motor Club building address installation challenges due to limited interior and rooftop space and offer conditioning options that could efficiently respond to the exceptional cold Chicago winters and warm summers.
The new owners also wanted to ensure the new system, as it would be operating 24/7, would maintain low sound levels so as not to disrupt the hotel’s guests and individual room temperatures could be centrally monitored.
To best meet the HVAC needs of this historic building, State Mechanical Services chose air conditioning solutions from LG Electronics (represented by Midwest Applied Solutions) to outfit the 143-room, Hampton by Hilton hotel. Given the building’s historic status, Midwest Applied Solutions had to ensure all LG mechanical equipment fit in the building’s limited interior space and on its small rooftop (35 ft. x 35 ft.), as well as avoid making any modifications to the building’s exterior. To meet all of the aforementioned criteria, LG suggested using its Multi V IV Heat Recovery system with the LG Art Cool Mirror indoor units and the LG AC Smart IV central controller, which provide utility, aesthetics and controls, respectively. According Andrew Yonkus, vice president, State Mechanical Services, logistically, LG’s VRF system made sense due to the smaller mechanical footprint on the roof.
For the building as a whole, Midwest Applied Solutions recommended installing LG’s Multi V IV Heat Recovery system, which provides installation flexibility and can be easily installed on the roof for minimal visibility in addition to guaranteeing optimal guest comfort. The limited ductwork required for LG’s systems enabled State Mechanical Services to have a minimally invasive installation plan, which kept disruption to the space to a minimum and installation costs low.
According to David Holbrook, project manager, Midwest Applied Solutions, “Thanks to LG’s VRF technology, the building’s structure wasn’t compromised, and it was able to keep the same quintessential appearance it once held in Chicago.”
Kevin McNamara, vice president and general manager for LG Electronics USA’s air conditioning business, called the project “a unique opportunity to transform a landmark-status building into a modern, functioning hotel.”
In addition, LG’s VRF technology, as incorporated in the Multi V IV Heat Recovery system, also offers custom temperature control in specific rooms, allowing each hotel guest to heat or cool based on his or her own personal comfort needs. Only the rooms being used will be heated or cooled at any particular time. With VRF, the building can take advantage of recovered waste heat—the capturing of heat energy normally discharged to the atmosphere by zones in cooling mode and moving that energy to the zones that need heat—so one guest can have heating and another cooling simultaneously.
The installation of LG’s air conditioning systems was completed in a timely and seamless manner, strategically meeting—and at times exceeding—all of the challenges and criteria set forth by the project. The Chicago Motor Club building reopened on May 19, 2015 as the LEED-certified Hampton Inn Chicago Downtown.