The Belden-Stratford was originally constructed in 1923 as a luxury hotel in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. After years of disparate renovations and a conversion to apartments in the 1980’s, it was purchased by new owners in 2018. An ambitious project began: to renovate the building for modern living yet simultaneously preserve and restore key elements of the original design.
SCB provided architectural and interior design services for the project, which was divided into two phases: phase one focusing on the exterior and phase two on the interiors. The design team faced a significant challenge as the only original reference document was a set of structural drawings from the 1920’s. Using historic photos as a guide, the designers were able to authentically reintroduce the glass and steel canopy that crowned the main entrance of the hotel. The team then addressed the building’s significant accessibility deficiencies with the addition of a ramp and handrails that were recreated from one remaining historic handrail salvaged on-site. All windows were replaced by new, high efficiency windows with blue encasements to match the original design.
Inside, prior renovations had compromised or removed much of the building’s original ornate detailing. The mezzanine surrounding the grand lobby had been closed off and converted to residential units, and a grand stair connecting the two spaces had been demolished. The new vision for the public spaces captures the spirit of the rich, beaux-arts building while introducing contemporary features for a unique, urban residential experience. In the lobby, the mezzanine was opened once again, allowing natural light to permeate the double-height space. Original gilded plaster molding with gold-leaf detailing was restored and replicated. The interiors material and finish palette was inspired by the notable starlets who were guests at the hotel in its roaring twenties heyday. Throughout, warm colors and soft forms meet luxurious finishes, dramatic marble features, brass detailing, and delicate crystal light fixtures.
Residential amenities along the mezzanine include a gilded lounge beneath a restored arched window, a game room, and a tasting lounge. The former ballroom was transformed into a spacious fitness and wellness center. Residential units range from studios to 3-bedrooms, along with double-height penthouses on the 15th floor. The newly reimagined Belden-Stratford brings back the romance and luxury of its historic appeal while offering discerning city dwellers a chic and welcoming place to call home.