Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Expansion & Renovation

Hyatt's Fourth Largest Hotel in the World
I want to thank the leadership of Hyatt along with the men and women who work at the hotel and also those who built this terrific new property.
Jim Reilly, Chief Executive Officer, Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority
Chicago, Illinois
Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority
Goettsch Partners, Inc.
Additional collaborations with Goettsch Partners, Inc.:
270,000 Square Feet (new construction)
Year Completed: 

The Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Expansion and Renovation Project added a 13-story tower with 462 guest rooms to the existing property. The expansion, which was built on top of a five-level, post-tensioned concrete parking garage, did not impact the day-to-day operations of the existing hotel or the adjacent McCormick Place Convention Center.

The new structure, which also features an administrative floor, is anchored to the parking garage with a series of structural steel trusses. The trusses, which measure 70 feet long and weigh 25 tons, support the hotel floors above, along with the addition's structural steel roof with 30-foot cantilevers. 

Along with the large roof cantilevers, the exterior architecture of the tower includes curtain wall, precast, and lighted, cantilevered glass and steel appurtenances on the east and west façades of the building. Dubbed the “wedges,” these public-space vistas provide a prominent lighting feature at night, as well as stunning panoramic views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan for hotel guests. The green roof system of the new tower expansion is visible from the existing hotel tower, putting the sustainable features of the targeted LEED Gold tower on full display for hotel guests. 

The design-build project's renovation component included modernizations of the existing hotel tower and public spaces, including all 800 guestrooms, a restaurant, bar, convenience store, boardrooms, meeting rooms, and a junior ballroom. Additionally, the scope doubled the size of the hotel lobby and added a new glass entrance canopy to accommodate the increased size of the property. 

This entire project was completed in less than 18 months, all while both the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, and McCormick Place Convention Center, maintained their normal business activities.

The expansion and renovation project's greatest challenge resulted in the project team's greatest success: safely completing the addition renovation without impacting the hotel's ongoing operations. The team accomplished this despite the hotel—and attached convention center—hosting major trade shows and world events including the 2012 NATO summit.

The project's confined urban site only added to the logistical challenges of working around hotel customers. To not intrude on the public face of the operating hotel, all construction materials and equipment were staged from a service alley, which also was shared by the hotel and convention center. Detailed and continuous coordination with the adjacent facilities occurred throughout every phase of the project. 

No amount of coordination, though, could have prevented the project's abrupt halt only three weeks after groundbreaking. The team discovered that the tower crane foundations were set to be installed through an undocumented fiber optic ductbank. The team spent the next six weeks redesigning the tower crane foundations to span this ductbank. Surgical hand excavation was required to carefully install the redesigned support. Despite completing the installation of the tower cranes nearly two months behind schedule, the team was able to recover and complete the project ahead of schedule.


The site-specific safety program protected the public and customers patronizing the operational hotel during construction. The project was constructed adjacent to an energy generation facility, which housed highly-toxic, liquefied ammonia. Extensive planning and coordination occurred to ensure the safety of all stakeholders and eliminate the possibility of an accidental release of the toxic ammonia. Additionally, a four-story steel climbing screening was utilized on the frontage façades of the tower during structural erection, to eliminate any stray debris from falling off of the building and onto the public below. Following the completion of the structure, full-height netting was installed at the perimeter of each completed floor, prior to the installation of the enclosure, to continue to ensure the safety of the public, and also protect the energy generation plant from damage.

Positive Impact on the Community

The Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Expansion and Renovation project will have a lasting impact on the city's hospitality industry and the overall community.

The project is a beacon for economic activity in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago, and its success has focused further development activity in an area around the convention center, with potential to transform the neighborhood. The effects of the project extend beyond the neighborhood, however; with the impact of a 50 percent increase in hotel rooms available adjacent to McCormick Place, Chicago can now more effectively compete for additional and larger conventions. The ability to attract more conventions to the city helps increase revenues at hotels, restaurants and other businesses, and the increased revenues across the board helps to expand the city’s tax base; spurring growth.

Distinctive Design & Innovative Construction

At 220 feet, the new hotel tower is one of the tallest vertical expansions in the Midwest and is notable in both design and construction. The project team used the hotel's parking garage to help stabilize the structure, using the concrete garage as the tower's foundation podium. The tower's design was inspired by the spectacular skyline views the hotel offers from its location in the city while its aesthetic matches the original hotel.  Featuring architectural precast concrete and glass, the new tower reflects the materials and character featured throughout the expanding urban campus.

The new guest room design is urban and modern, using contemporary details and clean lines. Polished nickel access relate to the gleaming skyscrapers out the window. The color palette of warm grays is taken from the city, but warmed up further with walnut casegoods, and a subdued aubergine accent.

High-Quality Craftsmanship, Project Management, & Schedule Success

From the outset of the project, the team was committed to exceeding the quality and craftsmanship expectations of not just the client and stakeholders, but also the expectations of the team members themselves. Early delays were overcome with an expeditious plan to set large trusses without falsework, and a resource management system for the two tower cranes, ensuring the efficiency of every lift.

During the fit-out phase, short increment production schedules were implemented to mobilize resources to the proper locations, at the proper time, down to the hour.

Throughout the project, the team maintained a focus on providing the client with a superiorly designed and constructed building. An electronic leak detection system was installed in the roof to facilitate the client's maintenance of their roof, a standard which they are now implementing on all of their existing buildings. Partitions within the new hotel were constructed to exceed the specified Sound Transmission Class ratings, as noise complaints are an issue for the hotel operator on other properties. A deflection and settlement monitoring and control program was utilized during construction to provide the client with high quality floor slabs. Vigorous enclosure performance standards were established and a complete enclosure performance mock-up was constructed to ensure the standards were implemented in the entire envelope.

Most significant were the intermediate schedule milestones, including for the renovation for the existing tower, restaurant, ballroom, and meeting rooms. As a result, renovated rooms were back on-line and generating increased revenue six months prior to the overall completion of the project, and the meeting rooms and ballroom were turned over and providing revenue nearly a year before completion.