Chicago’s Carbide and Carbon Building is an extraordinary example of 1920’s Art Deco. I remember seeing this gorgeous building on my last visit to Chicago in 2004, but strangely enough, I couldn’t remember going inside of it. As it turns out, the building underwent over $106 Million worth of renovations and updates from 2001 – 2004 and was closed to the public during that time. No wonder my UCLA art history teacher who was hosting our trip didn’t take us inside. But you know me, if I see a stunner like this one, I’ll do my best to step inside and experience the glory of a by gone era.
One of the things that I love about the renovations done by the Hard Rock Hotel, is that their signage doesn’t interfere with the striking polished black marble exterior on the lower portion of the building. The upper portion of the building is dark green terra cotta, not black as I’d originally thought. I’d assumed this building was like LA’s very rare gold and black terra cotta art deco buildings, however I was wrong. And can you believe the gold color on the tower is 24k gold. Even though it’s only one five-thousandths of an inch thick, it’s actual gold. Elegant bronze trim extends from the tip of the spire to the ground, leading some to believe that the building was built to look like a champagne bottle.
The entrance at 230 N. Michigan Avenue sports a bronze grill over the massive doorway, something that beckons any seasoned deco enthusiast to enter. And once you’ve stepped inside the lobby, the exquisite deco elevator doors will practically take your breath away, They’re every bit as beautiful as the ones at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.
The Carbide and Carbon Company developed the first dry cell battery and commissioned the Burnham Brothers to create their home base, which was completed in 1929. There were plans for a sister building, however, the stock market crash of 1929 put an end to that. Zoning laws in 1923 limited the height of skyscrapers, allowing for towers as long as they didn’t take up more than one quarter of the lot size. Therefore, this building has a 23 story base and a 15 story tower. There’s something so elegant about the proportions of buildings from the 20’a and 30’s. They’re more human in scale and have so easily stood the test of time. Hooray for the Hard Rock Hotel for reinvesting in this gem of a building and bringing it up to date.
If you’d like to book a room at the Chicago Hard Rock Hotel, click HERE.