sion of bomb-laden vehicles. Cobb realized that post-9/11 security demands need not clutter lobbies with hastily conceived metal detectors. Instead, he shaped a richer processional sequence, playing a spatial game of "compress and release" (see pages 133 and 134).

The most architecturally significant floors within the Hyatt Center house the offices of the Global Hyatt Corporation and Classic Residence by Hyatt, for senior living, on floors 9 through 16. An atrium, evoking its counterparts in Hyatt's hotels, ties the floors together, with a cascading, translucent-glass staircase to encourage casual meetings among Hyatt employees. The atrium was planned before construction began, according to interior architect Stephen Apking of the New York office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which proved far less expensive than inserting it after the fact.

With the atrium's cubic blackwalnut coffee bars and crisply detailed stair, the interiors effectively express Hyatt's global identity, synthesizing East and West, and urban sophistication with a more relaxed, resortlike atmosphere.


Even if the results are not as spectacular as they might have been had Foster designed the Hyatt Center—one imagines an inventively conceived workplace and a showstopping "green" tower— Cobb's design has a value as a model more than a one-off. It's an attractive, but not arbitrary, alternative to the box and shows that architects can elegantly respond to the imperative to fortify.

Ideally, the prominent client for this building would have been more aesthetically adventurous. Both architect and client deserve credit for creatively dealing with financial realities 9/11 imposed. While the Hyatt Center may at first appear to be a nose-thumbing break from Chicago's past, it is, upon close inspection, simply the latest example of the city's long and exemplary tradition of hard-nosed but high-quality commercial architecture. ■

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's Stephen Apking concentrated amenities for Hyatt corporate offices along an atrium, most notably in coffee bars that cantilever over the glass stair (right). Equally arresting is the 12th-floor reception area (below and opposite, top), where the walls and a monumental stair are paneled in black walnut. The reception area and a boardroom (opposite, bottom) provide a showcase for wood furniture by Mira Nakashima, daughter of the Japanese-American craftsman George Nakashima.

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