Architect Dirk Denison gave the former L20 space a thorough transformation when converting the restaurant to Intro (opening Wednesday) by deploying a variety of unique furniture and lighting fixtures.
But perhaps it's more apt to describe it as a Thoreau transformation; a wall features a quote ("I took a walk in the woods...") from a poem by the famous transcendental writer. A tree branch greets diners as another wink to Walden, while wired light bulbs illuminate parts of the restaurant.
There's 98 seats within the 3,000 square-foot restaurant that houses a lounge with high-back chairs upholstered with black and white fabric keeping in the them of Intro's aesthetic. A few saddle-leather dining chairs and perforated curtains decorate the room. Denison's team designed lighting to complement the Sen wood walls and the windows facing Lincoln Park with the goal of providing an outdoor dining feel while featuring the comforts of a living room.
L20, which closed to make room for Intro, won the Gold Key Award for Best Restaurant Design 2008 Worldwide. But that's just part of the space's legacy which began in 1920s as a grand dining room inside the former Belden Stratford Hotel. The design offers flexibility as each chef-in-residence rotates. Right now, the space reflects a portion of inaugural chef and Top Chef alum CJ Jacobson's influence.