Meet The Contenders: In One Category Of James Beard Nominees, Chicago Beats NY 2 To 1
On May 6, the James Beard Foundation will announce the winners of this year's James Beard Award in the categories Restaurant and Chef, Media and Restaurant Design.
As Americans' palates have become more sophisticated, so has their taste for innovative restaurant design — and restaurants are an increasingly important component of mixed-use or previously all-retail environments.
So it is no exaggeration to say that good restaurant design helps strengthen a particular property, as well as its surrounding neighborhood. Enough interesting restaurants can even help spark economic development in a city.
The James Beard design awards were established in 1994, and in 2013 the categories were changed to Outstanding Restaurant Design: 75 Seats and Under and Outstanding Restaurant Design: 76 Seats and Over. Any restaurant design project completed or redone in North America within three years before the award year is eligible.
This year, in the 76 seats-and-over category, Chicago in particular shone as a restaurant town, claiming two out of the three nominees: Lonesome Rose by Land and Sea Dept. and Pacific Standard Time by Parts and Labor Design. The New York nominee in that category is Boqueria by Studio Razavi Architecture.
Chicago restaurants have won James Beard Awards before, but only once in the large restaurant category: Cherry Circle Room, also by Land and Sea Dept., in 2016, so this year's showing is a strong one for the Windy City.
We asked the design firm for each of the 76 seat-and-over restaurants why their design deserved a nomination.
"Lonesome Rose was a unique project for us — it was a complete gut remodel on a building that was in terrible shape to begin with, and most people would have torn it down," Land and Sea Dept. partner Robert McAdams said.
"The physical rebuilding took so much time that the design concept evolved quite a bit," McAdams said. "We always set out to make welcoming, honest spaces, and our interpretation of what that means changes over time. When we start these projects we set out to design a space that we can enjoy and feel comfortable in."
PACIFIC STANDARD TIME
“Pacific Standard Time is a coastal California-inspired eatery in Chicago’s River North neighborhood," said Danu Kennedy, design director for Parts and Labor Design. "The project highlights the menu and its fresh ingredients, transplanting laid-back West Coast vibes to Chicago."
"One of the driving concepts behind the design of the restaurant was to provide a connection between guests and the activity taking place in the kitchen, the people preparing your food and the process of cooking," Danu said. "We wanted to convey a sense of homestyle dining, as cooking often takes place in the midst of social interaction."
"Our design aimed at creating a strong sense of place by opting for a skin-like layer of wood slats on both ceilings and walls, separate from structural walls and ceilings, so as to have full control of the geometry," Studio Razavi Architecture architect Guillen Berniolles said.
"[We followed] a simple design intent which allows for different room sizes to be created, shifting from grand to intimate, celebrating the centrally located bar and kitchen space as [a] focal point of perspective," Berniolles said.