After The Peninsula acquired the New York Property in 1988, and then opened the Beverly Hills Property in 1991, the company looked to a third destination to build critical mass in North America. In 1997, discussions began with a local Chicago developer, who was looking to start the second phase of a multi-phase development in a prime location in Chicago.
Phase I had just been completed; a full block site along Michigan Avenue, built out with 3 stories of retail, and an allowance for a GF Hotel Lobby to provide access to a future hotel above. The local developers’ conceptual plans for the hotel were for rooms of about 40 SqM, and for open tiered public space that would step down to the Roof Terrace above the Retail.
On behalf of Peninsula, Miller asked for a deeper Guestroom tower, to allow 45 SqM rooms, and a more traditionally sequenced set of spaces from the shuttle lifts leading to what would be the gracious 2-story Peninsula Lobby, overlooking Michigan Avenue skyline and the Roof Terrace below. This allowed for a grand stair leading down to PreFunction, and a another F&B outlet, both being adjacent to the Roof Terrace.
Miller was assigned full-time in Chicago for the life of the project, to oversee management of the design and construction, to see that Peninsula’s expectations of design, quality and standards could be best met. The team of consultants (Elkus Manfredi, Boston - architecture, and BAMO, San Francisco - interior design) and builders were basically all North American.
The standard of technology and functional details in the guestroom were well above what the local market had seen. Liaison with Peninsula colleagues, throughout design, construction and pre-opening, was by great long-distance. But the hotel opened with great fanfare in June 2001, and since then has consistently ranked as the top or very near the top of urban hotels in North America.