CHICAGO – The Godfrey Hotel, located north-west of Chicago's Loop, is noteworthy for two things: first, its innovative and expressive staggered-truss construction; and second, the time it took to build. The architecture firm Valerio Dewalt Train Associates was first approached by a developer in 2004, but the hotel only opened its doors this February.

The reason for the delay is not the building's unusual steel structure, which was initially favoured by the original developer due to the speed and efficiency of construction. Rather, just as the building topped out in 2008, the financial markets tumbled down. As a result, the tarp-wrapped structure stood vacant and acquired the unedifying nickname 'the mummy' from the neighbourhood's residents. It was not until 2011 that a new developer saw the building's potential and decided to turn it into a boutique hotel.

The hotel is basically a long slab, although a staggered-truss system allowed the architects to leave out several floors, giving the building a greater visual mass, as well as creating more variety in the floor plans. The principal, expressive elevation actively incorporates the rational aesthetic of the trusses on the exterior, but turns them into an informal window seats inside. According to the architects, 'The building is the exception, along LaSalle Street, that proves the rule that all tall buildings should be boxes no matter what their function.'

Photos Steve Hall (Hedrich Blessing)