The reinvented downtown Chicago private business club, formerly known as The Metropolitan Club, will have a grand reopening on November 3 that will be open to the public as well as members. The ClubCorp property is located on two floors of the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) and the redesign was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s approach to open space, with each room conceptualized around a different Wright house.
The Metropolitan, located on the 66th and 67th floors of the Willis Tower in the South Loop section of downtown Chicago, is set to officially reopen next weekend after a $10 million renovation that signifies a reinvention of the 44-year-old private business club, Crain’s Chicago Business reported.
In 1974, when what was then known as The Metropolitan Club opened in what was then the Sears Tower, women and minorities weren’t able to join, Crain’s Chicago Business reported. Over the years, however, it has evolved into a much more inclusive club, as reflected by the diversity in its membership and staff, according to The Metropolitan’s first female General Manager, Simona Blaugh, who led the renovation.
Blaugh previously worked at the Mid-America Club, another Chicago business club owned by parent company ClubCorp, Crain’s Chicago Business reported.
“The renovation was really necessary to make sure that we are relevant in the future,” Blaugh told Crain’s Chicago Business. “The landscape of Chicago is changing, and there are verticals and businesses now that exist that had never existed before.
“When the club was founded, the tech vertical didn’t exist, and dynamic women literally were not members of the club,” Blaugh added.
The club’s renovation is Chicago-focused, Crain’s Chicago Business reported, with a design inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, the “pioneer of open spaces.” Each room is conceptualized around a different Frank Lloyd Wright house.
The new look also features black steel as an homage to the Willis Tower, Crain’s Chicago Business reported. Operationally, there’s an emphasis on using locally sourced products and local philanthropic initiatives.
Prior to the renovation, which was completed by Miami-based Gonzalez Architects, space throughout The Metropolitan was multi-purpose, Crain’s Chicago Business reported. Now, however, there’s more separation, so that each space has its own vibe and function.
“Before the project, it all felt the same,” Blaugh said. “You could have a high-end dinner, a casual drink after work, or co-working all in the same space.
“We recognized that these spaces need to be separate [and that] they require different service and different amenities,” Blaugh added. “And that was our goal with the reinvention.”
The Metropolitan’s members-only spaces are located on the 67th floor of the club, Crain’s Chicago Business reported. The office area, called the Blueprint, takes up most of the floor with its offices, meeting rooms, an open workspace, a small stage, and a local beer and bourbon bar.
The club’s new Frame Bar is inspired by Chicago’s neighborhoods, featuring drinks named after specific areas of the city. On the other side of the wine wall is the Craftsman, a fine dining room where the club offers white-jacket service.
The Metropolitan offers memberships for individuals (starting at $211 a month) and businesses, Crain’s Chicago Business reported. The club is about 200 members away from a wait list, Crain’s reported.
Now that the 11-month renovation is complete, The Metropolitan will officially reopen with an opening party on November 3 that will feature Chicago-inspired food and drinks, live music and a photo booth, Crain’s Chicago Business reported. Tickets are free for members, $49 for non-members, and $145 for VIP access.
Photos of the club and a video tour that were included in the Crain’s Chicago Business report can be viewed at https://www.chicagobusiness.com/news/first-look-willis-towers-metropolitan-clubs-10m-renovation