Hampton Inn (Chicago Motor Club)

Chicago, Illinois / United States of America

Long considered one of the city’s finest Art Deco skyscrapers, the Chicago Motor Club served as headquarters for the affiliate of the American Automobile Association (AAA) from its 1929 opening until 1986. Designed by Holabird & Root, the 16-story building featured sleek exterior lines, stylized Machine Age flora and fauna motifs, and a bank of counters where motorists would pick up TripTrik books to plan their road travels.  This Chicago Landmark, which had once been threatened with demolition, has been revitalized as a 143-key Hampton Inn Hotel, once again serving as a destination for travelers. The design restored the character of this “temple to travel,” while adapting the small floorplate and historic interiors for hospitality use.

A primary design challenge was repurposing the centerpiece three-story lobby to serve as a central hub that included hotel registration, guest services, a cocktail lounge, and breakfast bar. A painstaking renovation undid the damage from insensitive past alterations, and included repairing the massive cartographic mural by John Warner Norton that depicts 1920’s-era transcontinental auto routes, and restoring the lobby’s original paint scheme, ornamental details, patterned terrazzo floor, and original light fixtures.

Twelve guestroom types were devised that would fit within the narrow floorplate, with 10 units per floor.  Former executive offices were transformed into gracious historic suites featuring restored coffered and beamed ceilings, leather doors, decorative plaster, wood paneling and herringbone floors. 

Rehabilitation of the 1928 limestone exterior was a significant part of the restoration effort. The masonry and windows were cleaned and repaired. Further, the entrance’s cast iron decorative ornamentation, weighing in at 34,000 pounds, was fixed, recoated and reinstalled using new anchors. A new entry canopy was installed to replicate original that was removed years ago.

The LEED Certified project minimizes its carbon footprint with an energy-efficient cooling and heating system, newly insulated exterior walls, and the addition of a green roof atop the existing roof.

Chicago Motor Club is again a travel destination, offering gracious hospitality within a unique architectural gem to visitors and Chicagoans alike.

Architect of Record

Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture


Murphy Asset Management

General Contractor

Walsh Construction


  • The Gettys Group
  • Forefront Structural Engineers, Inc.
  • Klein & Hoffman