The challenges in replacing a Chicago landmark restaurant
of 24 years were numerous. Should a new establishment pay
homage to its predecessor? How will the city's dining patrons
confront the loss, and accept the newcomer? Simply refresh
and enliven, or aggressively take over the entire space?
With all due respect to the restaurant known as Gordon, the
decision was made to completely gut everything from the storefront
windows to the ovens. While occupying a terrifically urban
River North corner, the space, previously introspective, needed
to respect and engage such a location. The entry was moved
up block, opening the corner and the entire dining room to
the city, and thus the city to the patrons. Terrific views
of Chicago landmark buildings once blocked are now dominating.
The energy of a city alive at night would vibrantly resonate
Enter into a Lounge relaxed with a bench of soft fabrics and
leather ottomans. Above, a sinuous soffit leads one through
the restaurant where clean lines dominate: a walnut host table
sits in front of a blue silk and brown velvet drape, a curving
bar of concrete and leather, raised tables create a transition
into the dining room where back-to-back banquettes separated
by a built-in planter sprouting tall grasses create areas
within, while large expanses of glass enliven and visually
extend the space into the surrounding city. Softly-colored
walls recess into niches as expressive works by local artist
Lora Fosberg become a part of the restaurant, not simply objects
hanging. Natural materials of Mediterranean colors give the
room the warmth and quality that enhance the entire dining
Tom Nahabedian of collaboration designed the space, from exterior
awnings to menus and matchbooks, to all drapery and furniture,
including chairs, tables, and creative rolling wine caddies.
The details extend beyond architectural, however, as typically
mundane operations such as the method of check presentation
becomes an expressive design statement.
The experience is not about concept at all. Innovatively,
it is simplicity in completeness; excellent food served thoughtfully
in a warm environment.
nahabedian . culligan
chicago 773 457 0078
los angeles 310.951.0502