FitzGerald has been retained to provide architectural services for the renovation of the Margarita European Inn in Evanston, Illinois. The 42-room inn began its life in 1927 as The Margarita Club for Working Women, serving as a hotel and apartment house for young business women seeking “proper housing.”
In 1989, the building became the Margarita European Inn, and over the next few decades, the building’s small rooms were selectively converted into larger, more luxurious rooms with private bathrooms. This, in contrast to some of of the original rooms which remain on each floor with shared, dormitory-style washroom facilities.
As part of FitzGerald’s scope, the firm will renovate and reconfigure the hotel’s residential floors to include ensuite bathrooms in each room. New rooms will be created–for a total of 46 guest rooms–from area once containing the communal restrooms and an unused portion of one of the garden-level dining rooms. A new rear lobby will feature a greeting area and guest elevator; this created space will allow grade-level access to all floors of the hotel. Previously, short flights of stairs separated the elevated first floor and the garden-level restaurant and banquet hall. The plan also calls for a new vehicular drop-off area and parking in the rear of the building.
FitzGerald has made special accommodations for leaving the building’s historic character intact; the aesthetics of a first-floor parlor, positioned below some of the smallest units being converted and slated to receive ensuite bathrooms, was in danger of being the most logical site for new plumbing and utility chases from the rooms above. FitzGerald was able instead to configure the rooms in such a way that the utilities were diverted across the second level before dropping down into a non-public area of the first floor.
Construction is expected to begin late 2012.