Designed by DMAC Architecture Evanston, United States

Midtown Athletic Club & Hotel

Chicago, United States

Dwayne MacEwen

Major infrastructural changes around Chicago’s Midtown Athletic Club offered a unique opportunity to dream the tired seventies sports centre up anew. With the help of Chicago’s DMAC, the owner turned it into a game-changing sports & leisure resort and hotel.

Big and bold

“The Midtown Club is in an up and coming part of the city. In the middle of all that energy was this huge place – the largest tennis club in the country”, says MacEwen. “When we started to re-design it, we needed to make big and bold moves. We wanted to make it a city landmark, to give something back to the streets.”

“We had the Hakwood product in the office for 16 months and literally tried to destroy it. It’s important to learn as much as you can about the materials when there’s so much at stake.”

Boutique experience

In order to re-invent the very idea of a sports club, the DMAC team thoroughly researched the attraction of boutique clubs. “We did a boxing workout with George Foreman III in Boston”, says MacEwen. “Then we flew into Montreal for spinning classes. We took all these experiences and literally built something completely new and exciting around it.”


In doing that, DMAC certainly succeeded in creating a landmark: the centre grew from 150,000 to 575,000 square feet: a 6 story sports resort including multiple pools and tennis courts, indoor sports areas, a restaurant and a 55-room hotel. “One of our big challenges was how to choreograph peoples’ movement through this vast space”, says MacEwen. “We never wanted people going from A to B to feel like they’re walking a corridor. It’s a collection of spaces with a natural flow.”

Organising element

DMAC chose the flooring to connect the different spaces and experiences. MacEwen: “In terms of flooring, Hakwood owns the club. On the second level in particular, where a café and lounge are next to the spaces for cardio, pilates and spinning, the floor is the organising element. We used the same cross-cut wood on the ceiling as well, for added patina and warmth.”

Smashing success

The final result is a club that feels like a resort, says MacEwen: “It’s very urban, a place people like to escape to. The membership exploded after the reopening, and people are hanging out for 8 to 10 hours at the club. It’s a smashing success; the owner of the club has simply changed the game.”

“Our approach to interior design is not: what does it look like, but: how does it feel when you’re standing there?”

Products used
Flooring Forza, Sierra Collection
Grades Classical
Finish Oil
Thickness 15 mm (5/8")
Plank widths 180 mm (7")
Flooring Tranquility, Colour Collection
Grades Classical
Finish Oil
Thickness 15 mm (5/8")
Plank widths 180 mm (7")
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