Back from Venice, with a Fresh Take on Chicago’s Venetian Gothic Dazzler at 12 S. Michigan

Travel scrambles your frame of reference, makes you look at things in new ways. After a trip to Venice, I’m seeing one Chicago building in particular with fresh eyes: the Chicago Athletic Association, a Venetian Gothic dazzler across South Michigan Avenue from the Crown Fountain.

I’ve always loved this building, which opened in 1893 as an athletic club for Chicago’s business elite and reopened in 2015 as a superpopular hotel.

Designed by architect Henry Ives Cobb, a member of the club, the Athletic Association easily has the most exotic facade in the mighty wall of buildings that line Grant Park.