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Raise The Roof

Roof on theWit, located on the 27th floor of theWit Hotel in Chicago, has gotten a refresh.

“Roof on theWit opened 10 years ago as a game-changing rooftop bar with an open-air patio focused on the nightlife sector. Since then, we have all grown up some and so has Roof,” said Jackie Koo, founder of Koo Architecture, who designed the new space. “The initial focus of the renovation was the patio, which was originally conceived as a fully outdoor space. Over time, a retractable roof was added, which gave us the opportunity to rethink the space as an outdoor room.”

Technology was a driver of the design. “The goal of the design was to create a rich sensory experience, modern yet artisanal while incorporating the latest digital technology into a bespoke setting for a client who is always at the forefront of technology,” she said. “What was formerly the ‘Patio’ is now dubbed the ‘Gallery.’ Nine synchronized digital panels display video art created specifically for Roof. These ‘art stories’ move across the screens in tandem. They are inset into an intricate laser-cut lattice of frames in a two-toned wood finish that brings warmth to the modernity, which is always a goal for us. The monumentally-sized back bar houses a 12 ft. x 8 ft. digital array at its center that interacts with the nine other screens. They create a unique medium for different kinds of video art, adding energy and excitement to the venue and transforming the space from day to night as well as for incredible private events.”

This installation undergoes a metamorphosis each day as it transitions from daytime to nighttime, creating an immersive living narrative. After dusk, the production lights shine colors of blue, amber and purple over the room, with spotlights radiating light beams and live DJ music throughout.

“We added a strong focal point for the space, a soaring 18-ft. back bar that glows in a champagne finish, illuminating the bottle display through a geometric walnut ring. This feature added warmth while incorporating the massive digital display,” Koo said. “Below the display, the bar front is crafted from custom angular water-jet cut tiles that sweep along the concave curvature of the bar face. Five u-shaped banquettes support a custom digital art wall. Leather stools and seating, wood tables for dining, and low lounge groupings complete the space.

“We extended the design moves to the interior of the rooftop, updating the fireplace with the same finishes and adding graphic geometric furnishings, cleaning up the aesthetic while providing flexible seating options for socializing and ensuring everyone is able to catch the stellar urban views,” Koo added.

The new space incorporates striking pops of orange and vibrant colorful patterns among cool, neutral tones and dark hardwood textures. Blending Spanish and Moroccan elements to recreate a chic Mediterranean vibe throughout, rich colors and a monochromatic tile mosaic on the floor help create a dazzling grand entrance.

“Aside from the obvious big moves, like the back bar and gallery screen, some of my favorite elements are the hand-painted black and white graphic cement floor tiles,” Koo said. “They create a striking centerpiece in the room, anchoring the lounge seating groupings. I love the low sofas, piled high with pillows crafted from authentic, fair trade, hand-woven Turkish Kilim carpets in heavily saturated colors. Each kilim was carefully curated and precisely cut to achieve thoughtful placement of patterns and motifs that make up a vibrant, one-of-a kind, durable pillow collection.”

As for how she would describe the overall ambiance of the completed space, Koo said, “Roof on theWit has sophisticated yet imaginative ambiance and, like theWit Hotel, captures the essence of being in the urban center. Like the rest of the hotel, the layout is intended to maximize its city views, with a bespoke, yet technologically integrated design and the promise of a socially engaging and entertaining Chicago experience. It’s luxurious without being too serious—and always fun.”