Chicago’s River North neighborhood is known to attract both locals and out-of-towners for its wide variety of restaurants and entertainment venues. In the past few decades, this neighborhood has attempted to epitomize the Chicago culture by preserving older historic structures with adaptive reuse construction.
The structure at 632 North Dearborn Street has occupied the corner of Dearborn and Ontario Streets since its construction in 1892. Historically, the building has been occupied by the Chicago Historical Society, the Chicago Institute of Design, and most recently, several nightclubs, including Excalibur and Castle. Since its previous tenant closed in 2015, the possibility of reopening the historic castle-like structure was considered by its owner, Four Corners Tavern Group. The Tao Group, known for their combination of nightclub/restaurants in various cities, chose the structure as the future location of the new Tao Chicago restaurant.
Within eighteen months, the interior of this building was transformed into an Asian-inspired restaurant and nightclub. The redesign of the entire interior layout required extensive removal and replacement of the existing structural steel, concrete, and brick. Structural modifications to the exterior allowed for new entrances and fulfilled building code regulations. The new interior includes a multi-level dining room descending from a 40-foot staircase, various bar and lounge areas, semi-private rooms, a sushi bar, and two separate dance floors. Custom finishes and fixtures were carefully selected and imported from China to compliment the theme.