New plans for Chicago's Purple Hotel site don't have their predecessor's color, in any sense of the word, but many may view the mixed-use "town center" plaza as the antidote to the site's lurid history. The quirky midcentury hotel in suburban Chicago seemed to escape its fate last year when architect Jackie Koo drew up plans to save the vacant hotel and its divisive color scheme. But demolition on the Purple Hotel in Lincolnwood, IL began late last month. Organizers of the village's end-of-summer festival apparently raised $5,000 for the local library through sales of purple brick. Renderings made public this week show a “new urbanist” plaza from Antunovich Associates that do not include anything purple; instead the 11 acres at 4500 W. Touhy Ave. would be home to an open-air shopping mall, functional green space, 110 apartments, a grocery store and a new 210-room hotel. About one third of the development’s parking spaces will be hidden underground. The design awaits village plan commission hearings.
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A rose by any other name may still smell as sweet, but what about a violet? Suburban Chicago’s Purple Hotel, rescued this Spring from dereliction and impending demolition, may change its name to complement its transformation under architects Koo and Associates. The firm solicited name suggestions via Facebook, looking for “something mid-century and fresh.” One early commenter declared, “Renaming the Purple Hotel will go over about as well as renaming the Sears Tower.” He may be right in so far as the new name likely won’t persuade the many locals with ties to the hotel’s colorful history. It was a veritable magnet for bar mitzvahs, it seems, before it attracted less wholesome convention crowds to buoy revenue in its later years. AN reported in June on new plans for the iconic Lincolnwood hotel, which principal Jackie Koo said would include varying degrees of historic preservation and inventive repurposing of the 1961 structure’s titular purple glazed brick. We welcome the change—a fresh start deserves a new name. But judging by the leading suggestions at the moment, the public has not grown jaded with the building’s most visually-striking element over time. Among the more popular at press time? The UltraViolet and The Concord.