After sitting shuttered for almost a decade, the historic Blackstone Hotel reopened to new glory and strong reviews from architectural critics and the hospitality industry. The massive renovation of the Blackstone, built in 1910, took just 22 months to complete, despite the fact that McHugh gutted the hotel to its skeleton save for the historic areas which were restored.
In addition to restoring the Blackstone's terra-cotta exterior and grand public spaces, including its lobby, Crystal Ballroom and marble-clad barber shop, McHugh created dynamic new spaces. The team transformed the unfinished space under the building's distinctive mansard roof into suites with 22-foot-ceilings, porthole windows, curved walls, and skylights. Project challenges included handling debris removal in a tight site with limited access points along Michigan Avenue; working around the historic yet messy clay tile arch structural system; and replacing mechanicals within the existing structural frame of the building. McHugh employed its innovative "design-built lite" program, using design-build for MEP work, to streamline this complex reconstruction.