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The Chicago Athletic Association (CAA) opened in 1893 in congruence with the World’s Fair being held in Chicago. Designed by Henry Ives Cobb to feature crisscrossing arches that mimic the extravagant palace of the Doge in Venice, the 11-storied building is often described as Venetian Gothic. The Chicago Athletic Association catered to the city’s most elite men, such as Marshall Field, William Wrigley, Jr., AG Spaulding, and Cyrus McCormick. The CAA closed its doors in 2007 after 114 years in operation. Then in 2012, the building was purchased for $13 million by AJ Capital Partners, Agman Partners, and Geolo Capital. The partners hired Hartshorne Plunkard Architects and interior architects Roman + Williams to meticulously restore and modernize the CAA into a 241-room luxury hotel. The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel is currently one of the premier adaptive reuse projects in the city of Chicago.


  • Chicago Athletic Association Hotel facade
  • Chicago Athletic Association Hotel interior

Chicago during the height of the Gilded Age was an extravagantly splendid city, full of glamorous fashion and architecture. When the city hosted the World’s Fair in 1893, many new buildings appeared in anticipation of the event. One of the most unique to be constructed during the early 1890s was the Chicago Athletic Association. While the majority of these buildings were designed in the Chicago School or Beaux Arts style, Henry Ives Cobb designed the 11-story CAA in what is known as a Venetian Gothic style. Based on the palace of the Doge in Venice, Cobb constructed the façade of this building with crisscrossing arches and columns. When completed in 1893, the Chicago Athletic Association was the premier men’s club in the city, seeing such guests as Marshall Field, William Wrigley, Jr., AG Spaulding, and Cyrus McCormick. 

A few alterations occurred to the Chicago Athletic Association during the early 20th-Century: in 1906, a 12-story annex was added which included a second ballroom and lodging for women, and then in 1926 the height of the building was increased to 19-stories for additional guest lodging. The CAA served as a recreation space for Chicago’s upper class for over a century, eventually closing in 2007 due to low membership. Then in 2012, the building was purchased for $13 million by AJ Capital Partners, Agman Partners, and Geolo Capital. The partners hired Hartshorne Plunkard Architects and interior architects Roman + Williams to meticulously restore and modernize the CAA into a 241-room luxury hotel. The newly renovated and aptly named Chicago Athletic Association Hotel opened in 2014. The majority of the CAA’s original 1893 architectural features were preserved, such as the ornate ironwork, tiled floors, and stained glass. The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel is currently one of the premier adaptive reuse projects in the city of Chicago.

Chicago Athletic Association Hotel. Chicago Architecture Center. November 16, 2018. http://www.architecture.org/learn/resources/buildings-of-chicago/building/chicago-athletic-association-hotel/.

We're 125 Years Young!. Chicago Athletic Club Hotel. Spring 2018. November 16, 2018. https://www.chicagoathletichotel.com/michigan-avenue-hotel-blog/chicago-athletic-association-hotel-125-anniversary.

Chicago Athletic Association Hotel. Architectural Record. February 1, 2016. November 16, 2018. https://www.architecturalrecord.com/articles/11490-chicago-athletic-association-hotel.

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