1325 Wilson for Flats Chicago

1325 Wilson for Flats Chicago: Uptown Landmark Norman Hotel Updated for a New Generation


Two weeks ago we introduced the start of construction at Lawrence House for Flats Chicago and today we reveal final photos of the 1325 Wilson building.

We introduced 1325 Wilson to the internet in March of last year (read all about it).  Now the building is open and already partially occupied.The former Norman Hotel, home to Charlie Chaplin and to one of Al Capone’s gangster Molls, has been completely renovated, both restored and updated to be home to a new generation of Chicagoans.

Fun and Functionality in the Spacious Bright Lobby Area

The ground floor at 1325 Wilson has three commercial units on thee east, one larger one on the west and a spacious lobby in the center of the block for tenants to gather and relax.  They can grab a cup of coffee from the Heritage Bikes Outpost kiosk or just linger in the lounge area on a funky four-directional sofa or at one of the cafe tables in the bright front window.  Passers by can ask for a cuppa from the walk-up window that fronts on the street.


1325 wilson, flats chicago, lobby


A Roof With A View

The roof deck shows off not only a stellar view of downtown across Lakeview and Lincoln Park but some pretty cool details of the building.  We love the historic brick work that existed up there and didn’t want to compete with it so the new deck is a simple construction of Ipe decking over steel beams and surrounded by a minimalist steel safety rail that doesn’t detract from the existing masonry or the skyline.

roof top view of skyline at 1325 wilson

The basement contains the usual practicalities, as well as a bike storage room and a functional workout area where residents can run from their bad news or throw a few punches.

work out room

Challenges of a Historic Structure

As we discussed in our Construction post, there are many challenges in working with an existing building and its vagaries.  At 1325 Wilson we had decided to preserve the ceiling beam pattern – which we now regard as a building feature.   Because we re-configured units, we had to check very carefully to make sure that our relocated plumbing units wouldn’t have to drill through beams to drain.  Below, a construction site photo shows a number of units temporarily opened in to each other before they were re-framed.

ceiling photos

We used detailed site photos, measurements and drawings to capture the complex existing ceiling pan and concrete beams and then laid the plumbing for the new kitchens and bathrooms out around them.  We expect this to be one of our favorite features when its complete.  See our construction post for more detail.

ceiling drawings

Inside A Unit at 1325 Wilson

The 1325 Wilson building is primarily studio units, with a two-bedroom and a couple of one-bedroom units on each floor.  As with several other of Flats’ projects, this building was originally a residential hotel so the units are compact with (then) room service and (now) an infinite variety of local take out options supplementing the small but efficient kitchens.

This furnished unit shows off a number of 1325 Wilson’s best features.  The exposed ceiling pan we talked about above (now neatly painted white) gives a glimpse into the structure of the building, as well as squeezing out every last inch of room height.  The kitchen is small but chock full of essential equipment and storage, suited to a young professional.  Lofting the bed makes for plenty of seating area below and a tidy out-of-the way sleeping nook above and the units on the south all have a killer view of the downtown skyline to boot.

1325 wilson, flats chicago, studio

We’re sure it will be a great home for many people, for many years to come.