Commercial | Educational | Exteriors | Hospitality | Museums | Residential | Retail | Work in Progress

theWit - Public Spaces

theWit | Chicago, IL, 2009

What It Was

theWit Hotel was envisioned by owner/developer, ECD Company, and architectural firm, Koo & Associates, as a state-of-the-art hotel experience. The property combines glamour and sophistication with intellect, humor and wit. With breathtaking views of the Chicago River, the skyline, and Millennium Park, the hotel has 298 rooms and suites, a two story lobby, a full service spa, a roof-top bar, meeting, banquet, and entertainment space, and a state of the art theater.

What We Did

Lightswitch Architectural created a range of lighting environments throughout the hotel that reflect the desired sophistication and complement the architecture and cutting edge design vision.

In the lobby, the one of a kind, custom chandeliers provide the dominant lighting. To keep the ceiling clear of distractions, cove luminaires line the ceiling perimeter and focus down the sheer curtains. Incandescent, metal halide, dimming fluorescent, and LED light sources blend gracefully, while meeting energy ordinance, emergency, and ambiance requirements. Interior light levels take outside day and night lighting into account, maintaining a clear view of the interior to lure passers-by inside.

The hotel’s state-of-the-art private screening room can host a corporate speaker, party, movie screening, or sports event. Luminaires were selected for mood flexibility, their ability to not interfere with the silence of the acoustically isolated room, and to prevent light from spilling towards the screen. All light sources are integrated on a user-friendly interface. Fiber optics, tiny halogen filaments, LED luminaires, MR16 downlights with remote transformers and theater spots fulfill the design requirements.

The conference rooms feature custom resin luminaires. A long sampling process yielded a simple solution to light the cast resin with no lamp image using a standard 2x2 lay-in troffer. A DALI control system features an intelligent controller in each room. Less expensive due to labor costs, the DALI system also has the ability to control individual luminaires in each room, adding significant flexibility over a traditional dimmer rack system.

As soon as the elevator doors open on the fifth floor, the guest enters the spa experience. The lights are dim, comfortable, and warm. Hallways between treatment rooms do not jar the guest with overly bright light. Individual waiting rooms have guest controlled dimming. Spa treatment rooms have LED dimmable under cabinet lighting, controlled by the service provider. The reception desk is lit even when the spa is closed, extending an invitation to the guest to return.

Lightswitch Architectural supported the owner throughout the design/build process by advising on all technical, practical and budgetary concerns related to the lighting, particularly with the LED fixtures. To streamline efficiency and maintain fiscal control, the lighting equipment is owner supplied and 80% Made in America. This allowed the team to maintain an environmental focus while controlling and managing purchasing and delivery. These efficiencies saved time and money and contributed to the Wit Hotel opening on schedule and within budget.

Why It Worked

Lightswitch Architectural created a range of “witty” lighting environments throughout the hotel that are fine-tuned to create designs specific to each space. The lighting systems are one of a kind, reflecting dynamic and creative design elements. They also take into account energy efficiency and fiscal responsibility for both development and long term maintenance costs.

theWit hotel lighting systems use 1.1 watts per square foot. The first electric bill after occupancy came in two thirds less than expected for a hotel of its size. The energy savings are an invisible bonus above and beyond the innovative, creative lighting design that the guests experience.

theWit received the "Best of 2009" Project of the Year award in the retail category from Midwest Construction.

Photographs copyright Wayne Cable Photography