Berwyn Apartments

Berwyn, IL

Restoring and redefining purpose for a historic space

Located on a commercial corridor on Oak Park Avenue near the Berwyn Metra Station, the venerable Berwyn Hotel presented WJW with two key goals: restoring the historic integrity of a 1920s hotel structure and reframing its role from a substandard Single Room Occupancy building to a fulfilling affordable family dwelling for both former and new occupants.

Working collaboratively with the Illinois Historic Preservation Division, WJW introduced a new floor addition on top of the existing structure, with a carefully calibrated setback that emphasizes the massing of the original facade. Thoughtful renovation and careful attention to details restored the historic building's exterior appeal. To maintain richness in a fairly modest structure with twenty one-bedroom apartments and eight two-bedroom flats, the team preserved the magnificent lobby heights and restored crown molding features and mosaic flooring patterns in addition to carefully handling the existing architectural elements — even while adding a new elevator and making other significant modernizations.

With the design of interactive spaces such as a community room, computer center, kitchen, lounge area with bookshelves and television, fitness center, common laundry room and green spaces on the exterior with meandering sidewalks and benches, the building's functional purpose has been extended, offering holistic living and community building for residents, while returning the building to its status as a contributing member of the neighborhood.