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David Rockwell completes two ambitious, stand-out projects: a Mies-inspired restaurant in Chicago and a homey Maui resort.
Over the past three decades, architect and designer David Rockwell and his eponymous firm have become a hospitality-industry powerhouse, designing projects from the W Hotel in Paris to the Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas. He’s also plied his trade on Broadway, most recently designing the sets for the play Lucky Guy and the Tony-winning musical Kinky Boots. This summer, Rockwell explores the office-space arena with Neuehouse, an edgy co-working space he designed that’s located in a restored century- old building in Manhattan. Two other ventures are also on the way: a bar and restaurant occupying the second floor of the Langham hotel in Chicago, which opens in July inside Mies van der Rohe’s iconic IBM tower, and Andaz Maui, which debuts in September as the brand’s first resort. Surface spoke with Rockwell about his most recent projects and where he travels in the summertime.

How did the Langham Chicago restaurant project come about?
We had been speaking to the Langham for a while about working together. I was intrigued by this opportunity for a bunch of reasons. One, it’s an amazing building. It’s our closest interaction with Mies van der Rohe by far, and that’s interesting because we’re not traditionally known as minimalists. Second, when you think about this opportunity within Chicago—it’s a building that has views on all four sides. It’s right in the center of what’s going on. It’s elevated. Also, the Langham Group really wanted it to be a destination restaurant. I felt like there was a really interesting opportunity to craft a space that would take advantage of the views and break down the scale of this space in a somewhat Miesian way with a series of screens near the entryway.

Were you a fan of Mies going into this project?
It’s hard not to be. He’s a legendary figure. I was very intrigued by the rigor of the building and wanted to bring a similar