Jean-Paul Viguier (b.1946) is a leading modern Paris-based French architect. In 2003 his Sofitel Chicago Water Tower (renamed the Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile) was chosen by the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) as the “best new building in Chicago in the last ten years.” The hotel opened in May 2002 with 415 rooms. Its dramatic architecture made an immediate impression not only on the city’s denizens and visitors but much of the world.
The prism-shaped, 350,000-square-foot structure was chosen by nearly 350 established Chicago-based architects as one of the city’s most outstanding achievements in architecture. The glass triangular tower ascends and thrusts over the intersection of Chestnut and Wabash Streets. Narrowing as it rises, the shape could evoke a ship’s prow—or a geometer’s trapezoid. Its expansive façades allow generous exposures of natural light as it faces east to capture sunrise over the incredible natural backdrop of Lake Michigan and southwest towards the timeless Midwestern prairie. Adding to the building’s drama and welcome grace is its exterior of horizontal cladding of visible and opaque glass in synergy with the verticality of the building’s wedge and curve. Inside, the lobby continues this building’s dramatic modernity presenting a steely structural space that is airy, sleek, and soaring.
Mr. Viguier was selected to design Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile during a design competition in 1998 judged by Accor hotels leadership and others. Mr. Viguier is a member of the International Academy of Architecture (IAA) and was president of AFEX (French Architects Overseas) from 1999 to 2002.
Mr. Viguier’s other internationally recognized projects include the France Televisions headquarters in Paris as well as the Cœur Défense in 2001 and the Tour Majunja in 2014 both in La Défense, France. The French architect built a two story expansion at the McNay Museum of Modern Art in San Antonio, Texas. Mr. Viguier is also architect for the Maroc Telecom Tower in Rabat, Morocco in 2013, and, in 2015, the SFR Campus in Saint-Denis, France. Another highly regarded project is, in 2013, the Cancer University Institute in Toulouse, France.
The Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile is also listed at no. 82 in a public poll of 150 buildings of “America’s Favorite Architecture.” The poll was conducted by The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Harris Interactive and in conjunction with the AIA’s 150th anniversary in 2007.
In 2005, Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile received the MIPIM Award at their international meeting of property market sector leaders gathering in Cannes, France. Created in 1991, the MIPIM Awards is an internationally-renowned real estate competition at MIPIM, the world’s property market. It honors the most outstanding and accomplished projects, completed or yet to be built, around the world, the very best of the real estate industry.
SOURCES: https://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4019734.html – retrieved May 24, 2021; AIA Guide To Chicago, 2nd edition, edited by Alice Sinkevitch, 2004, p. 130; https://legacy.npr.org/documents/2007/feb/buildings/150buildings.pdf – retrieved May 24, 2021; https://www.floordaily.net/floorfocus/aia-poll-of-americas-favorite-buildings-released – retrieved May 24, 2021; https://iaa-ngo.com/portfolio-posts/jean-paul-viguier/ – retrieved May 24, 2021; https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/chicago-architecture-boom – retrieved May 24, 2021; https://www.viguier.com/en – retrieved May 24, 2021; https://archello.com/project/campus-sfr-sfr-headquarters – retrieved May 24, 2021; https://archello.com/project/cancer-university-institute – retrieved May 24, 2021; https://www.viguier.com/en/projets/mcnay-museum-san-antonio-texas – retrieved May 24, 2021; https://www.viguier.com/en/projets/tour-maroc-telecom-rabat – retrieved May 24, 2021.
Author’s photograph of the Sofitel’s west flank was taken on June 14, 2014 at State and Chestnut Streets.