Downtown Chicago has a new attraction for the aesthete-gourmand: Revival Food Hall, recently opened in legendary architect Daniel Burnham's Commercial National Bank Building, offers a slew of culinary delights in a historic building in the city's Loop district. Renovated by Blue Star Properties with architect Aric Lasher of Chicago-based HBRA, the eatery, whose name is a nod to Burnham’s Classical Revival style of architecture, spans a sprawling 24,000 square feet. “This area was kind of a food wasteland, so we wanted to bring the best chefs from other neighborhoods downtown," explains Craig Golden, founder of Blue Star Properties. "We provided everything for them to incentivize them to come to the area.”
A conference table from the building's former life as an electric company headquarters.
The building had undergone several iterations since its original establishment as a bank (including serving as headquarters for the Commonwealth Edison energy company and, most recently, the administration building for Chicago's public school system), and those changes were evident in its design. "Take, for example, the flooring of the food hall," Golden says. "It's three different types of marble, some concrete, some terrazzo. You really see all the different periods. It’s a bit of a road map of the history of the building." Instead of attempting a new aesthetic, Golden and Lasher smoothed the style mélange into a modern-feeling space that incorporates every part of the site's history— what he calls a "historic remix." "Obviously this type of space didn't exist at that time, but Lasher tried to do what he thought Burnham would have done if it had," Golden explains. "It’s really our idea of the modern version of a Burnham building."
The Revival Food Hall, designed by architect Aric Lasher.
In terms of restoration, Lasher focused on the building's most striking details. He restored the Revival columns using a tilemaker who worked in the same technique as those at the turn of the century, when the original detailing was completed. A 43-foot-long boardroom table, left from the Commonwealth Edison offices, has pride of place at the food court's center, where it's surrounded by additional furniture provided by Dock 6 Collective . The Chicago-based group of independent furnituremakers added an I beam down the center of the table, providing support and integrating lighting without compromising the heirloom's stately effect. The juxtaposition just may be the best example of the modern and historic merging that gives Revival its distinctive feel.