Walsh Construction converts 100-year old Chicago hospital into Hyatt hotel


Walsh Construction, a US-based contractor, has completed the rehabilitation of the 104-year-old Cook County Hospital building into a dual-branded Hyatt Place and Hyatt House hotel.

Directed by Civic Health Development Group, a joint venture by Chicago-based Murphy Development Group along with MB Real Estate, Walsh Investors and The Granite Cos, the transformation is the first phase and is expected to become an attraction for Harrison Square within the Illinois Medical District.

After being decommissioned in 2002, the 345,000ft² old Cook County Hospital had been vacant for more than 15 years, which became a concern for preservationists, historians and other citizens that the Beaux Arts building was at risk of demolition.

The fears were relieved in 2018 when it was announced that the prominent structure would be given a second life.

The transformation converted the former hospital and medical college into a 210-room dual-branded Hyatt House and Hyatt Place hotel.

Walsh Construction co-chairman Dan Walsh said: “The old Cook County Hospital is rich in history, having served our community and nation for over a century, while at the same time being a fountain of medical research, innovation, and advancements.

“The Walsh Group is proud to have played a leading role in saving and transforming this unique historic structure, and delivering a reborn building that welcomes visitors and economic revival to the Near West Side of Chicago for another 100 years.”

Architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill had designed the project to include features that highlight the building’s history as being one of the world’s top teaching hospitals and being Chicago’s first public hospital.

The building also includes a museum to preserve the hospital’s contributions to the region and the medical field.

Walsh stated that it started the renovation from the top floor and proceeded its way down to the ground floor, where the crew removed all the interior partitions, leaving a clear floor plate near 550ft long and 70ft wide.

Once the floor plate was cleared, new composite decks were installed. The company further said that the original terrazzo flooring had been refurbished completely and the intricate interior mouldings were also repaired to their original condition.

For the exterior of the building, the construction company preserve repair and recreate the historic façade, which included more than 4,160 individual pieces of terra cotta.

On the exterior of the building, masons laboured to preserve, repair and recreate the historic $18 million façade, requiring more than 4,160 individual pieces of terra cotta to be repaired or duplicated by Gladding, McBean – one of only two terra cotta manufacturers in the US.

Walsh Construction vice president Jeff Pezza said: “This project is based upon community revival and opportunity for the local workforce and the Near West Side community.

“A tremendous amount of gratitude must be given to our dedicated project team, and especially the elected officials, organistions and individuals like Larry Huggins from The Granite Companies who helped champion this project across Chicago.”


The exterior of the old Cook County Hospital building that has now been converted into Hyatt Hotel. (Credit: Walsh Construction/PR Newswire.)

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