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In Chicago, the city that wrecks, May is proving to be an uncharacteristically sweet month for anyone who revels in watching rich but dormant layers of the city’s architectural past come back to life.
Last Tuesday, a long-vacant art deco gem, the old Chicago Motor Club Building at 68 E. Wacker Place, reopened as a stylishly renovated Hampton Inn.
Yes, that same Hampton Inn chain that builds cookie-cutter hotels on the nation’s interstates.
This Wednesday promises the debut of a much bigger and more aesthetically sophisticated remake: the reinvention of the once-exclusive Chicago Athletic Association, a Venetian Gothic palace at 12 S. Michigan Ave., where members of Chicago’s business elite, among them Marshall Field and William Wrigley, used to play sports and party.
It, too, is being reinvented as a hotel, but it faces some very different challenges than the old Motor Club building, which had long invited the traveling masses into its spectacular lobby to get TripTik maps. […]