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Matt Lee | Photo: Neil Burger | November 18, 2013
Dr. K.S. Lo reinvents a Mies masterpiece at The Langham.
It’s doubtful that many realty magnates would have looked at Mies van der Rohe’s iconic IBM Building at 330 N. Wabash Ave. and thought: luxury hotel. But Dr. K.S. Lo, executive chairman of the Langham Hospitality Group, comes at things from a slightly different angle. While Lo is a member of one of Hong Kong’s most successful realty families, he didn’t get into the game until later in life. “My only interest since I was 7 years old was to be a medical doctor,” says Lo, a cardiologist who trained at Cornell and the University of Michigan. “I was 33 when I went back to the family business and gave up medicine.” Fast-forward a few decades and Lo is the driving force behind the rapidly expanding Langham brand, which was inspired, of course, by the first Langham Hotel in London. Built in 1865, the famously posh Regent Street destination has long been one of Europe’s most refined hotels. “The Langham brand means history, legacy, classic design and European hospitality,” says Lo, who’s overseen the development of 20 Langhams since launching the venture in 2008, with many of the hotels landing at historically significant properties. “We wanted to be part of Chicago history. That’s what this building is. We want to preserve the simplicity and elegance of the structure. To be able to do this is really an honor. With each property we take care to blend the environment and its history so that when you’re there, you feel: ‘Wow, this is different.’” Of course, the good doctor hasn’t forgotten his scientific training. “Each hotel is its own environment,” he says. “And every human being has to live in their own environment. That’s what evolution is about: You will succeed if you blend into your environment.”
Having dinner with his family, horseback riding, golf, playing piano
“It’s very cold here!”