Opened in 1970 by tennis enthusiast Alan Schwartz and his father Kevie Schwartz, Chicago’s Midtown Tennis Club (as it was originally called) quickly built a name within the sport, serving as the home court of Billie Jean King and the site at which Andre Agassi won his first national junior tournament.
While the club offered excellent tennis facilities, the gym remained a small add-on until 2015, when Chicago architectural and interiors practice DMAC Architecture began an ambitious transformation of the tennis club into “the largest premier health-and-fitness property in the US”.
Set across three floors, the refurbished and renamed Midtown Athletic Club – which reopened in November last year – now features 16 indoor tennis courts; studios for a range of activities including yoga, pilates, cycling and boxing; an indoor swimming pool; an outdoor swimming pool, which also serves as an ice rink during the winter; a fitness centre featuring Precor equipment; a full service spa; a 182-seat restaurant and a retail complex.
Above the health club sits a 55 room boutique hotel, occupying the building’s fourth and fifth floors.
“The hotel concept came late in the game, but it was an inspired idea,” says Dwayne MacEwen, founder of DMAC Architecture. “Differing from your typical hotel facility where a small portion of the property is dedicated to amenities, Midtown is 96 per cent amenity and only four per cent hotel. This is a complete gamechanger for both the hotel and club experience.
“The athletics club allows guests to prioritise fitness, not only within one’s own regimen or training programme but within business and leisure travel. The site becomes a reason in itself for travel to Chicago – to be a spectator or to participate in competitions and tournaments.”
He adds: “In many ways, the hotel was designed with the health-conscious and fitness-focused guest in mind. Rather than offering in-room yoga mats like many hotels do, we offer guests the best yoga studio and fitness classes in the country, as well as state-of-the-art equipment and the exciting amenities offered at the club.”