Designing events in a city as architecturally significant and tremendously stylish as Chicago is always inspiring. Our blog series Taking Up Spaces invites you to venture inside stunning Chicago venues, each inviting in its own unique way.
When we consider our events as fleeting murals, painted and washed away all in the course of a day, then the spaces that we temporarily inhabit make for truly wonderful canvasses, although surely not blank ones.
This week we spoke to Erika Rodriguez, Senior Marketing and Events Manager at Chicago Union Station, to get an insider’s view of what of this truly fetching Beaux Arts style space has to offer.
Grandiose, gilded, and rich with detail and history, it’s no surprise that this ninety year old railway station is as sought after for special events and weddings as it is for train travel.
According to Erika, what is perhaps as impressive as the size of the venue –20,000 square feet to be exact– is the fact that it’s uninterrupted, truly versatile space. Uninterrupted, but certainly not blank:
From the pink Tennessee marble floors and grand stairway…
…to the barrel-vaulted atrium ceiling,
...the room, though rich with ornamentation, maintains a stately elegance.
The vast Corinthian columns, majestic statues, extraordinarily detailed masonry and brass work, (including the imperial lamp posts, which Erika highly recommends guests give a closer look), each boasts a subtle, yet commanding presence.
The striking span and height of the venue allow for truly impressive uses of fabric and large structures, as well as infinite layouts and floorplans.
Floor to ceiling drape as well as carpet were added for this magnificent corporate celebration, creating a truly unforgettable atmosphere (a favorite of Erika’s):
Click the arrows below to see all of the photos.
According to Erika, when it comes to the Great Hall, lighting is everything.
We couldn’t agree more. The right combinations of lighting components and rich washes allow the brilliant details of Union Station to effortlessly complement decor and intensify the atmosphere.
Perhaps one of the most inviting features of the space, though, is how unassuming it is. Guests often comment on the fact that walking through the station on a normal day, you’d never fathom the transformation it undergoes at the hands of event professionals.
All 15 of the 90 year old wooden benches, for example, are removed for events and temporarily replaced by bars, tables, lounges and even aisles, only to be immediately replaced and ready for passengers the following morning.
It’s clear why this element is so appealing: having a space all to yourself that’s normally open to the public almost feels like you’ve temporarily stopped time, and shouldn’t the best celebrations feel like that, too?
Choosing a venue–one of the earliest decisions made in event design, production and planning–is not one to be taken lightly. Luckily, Chicago is brimming with beautiful locales like Union Station that offer so much more than just a backdrop.
For more information about special events at Union Station, click here.
Special thanks to Erika for her contributions to this post.