Preserving a natural aesthetic
Architects for a Midtown Athletic Club decide to keep the unprocessed aesthetic of Absolute Black granite blocks
Midtown Athletic Club in Chicago is not your typical health club. The recent expansion of Midtown Athletic Club and Hotel transformed what was the largest indoor tennis club in the country into the largest lifestyle center in the country. The hybrid health club and hotel exudes intentional details designed by DMAC Architecture.
The backdrop of the lobby at Midtown Athletic Club and Hotel is comprised of large blocks of Absolute Black granite that made their journey from the Telangana Mountains of Southern India. The rough texture and drill marks tell a story and reveals the process of drilling into the mountainside to split the stone. While these end blocks are typically discarded, the DMAC design team chose to use the stone for the raw surface rich with drill marks, thus preserving its natural, unprocessed aesthetic.
An installation of this magnitude was an ambitious undertaking. The design team faced a huge challenge in sourcing the granite from the quarries within the U.S. so they located a quarry in Southern India that was willing to engage in this unusual experiment. Carefully selected blocks split from mountains were cut into panels that varied in thickness from two to 24 inches.
The installation into an already finished space required engineering a support system for the stone panels. In total, 14 panels weighing 15 tons were carefully selected and planned from the design vision that spanned and bridged geographical boundaries. Completing the lobby space, a 10 foot reception desk of the same granite end blocks was hand-carved for the milled wood desk nestled within.