>The Cone Story: Hotel Sofitel’s Architecture


Chicago’s Hotel Sofitel‘s architecture has a story of its very own, and that story begins with an international competition for the property which was won by French architect Jean Paul Viguier. A true lover of Chicago, Viguier set out to incorporate the city into his plans, including one of the city’s most famous buildings, the Hancock, even though it is located 3 blocks from the Sofitel property.

Viguier’s design for the building is all about shapes. Beginning with the flat, square shape of the land, the architect then added an ellipse, stretching out of the square and into the park across the street. Next, the ellipse is drawn up into a cone, reaching its point 32 floors up.

The design then incorporates a podium level that leans against the cone, where the restaurant, lobby, and meeting space may be found. From there, the accommodation block was added, which is designed as a prism shape with a central elevator core. The prism shape is also leaned against the cone, creating short hallways and a counterpoint to the park across the street.

This sketch clearly illustrates the “removed cone”

Finally, the cone is removed from the design, leaving a glass wall that frames the negative space at the front property. The missing cone may be noticed from all angles of the property and created the space for the entrance and the outdoor dining area of the Cafe. Viguier himself refers to this space as “his act of generosity to the city of Chicago”, and it has been quite functional. The Sofitel encourages the city to “enter, participate, [and] visit the hotel as a destination.”
The entrance and outdoor dining area at the base of the “removed cone”
´╗┐Viguier certainly succeeded in incorporating geometry and creating a pleasing optical illusion for all to see, as the Sofitel’s beauty is surpassed only by the sheer audacity of the design.
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