In 2006, the Waterman Building received the dubious honor of being included on Blair Kamin’s short list of the most “unsightly structures” in the Loop which he describes as “structures that make you cringe every time you see them — gross architecture, grotesque decoration, hideous materials.”
Fortunately, the San Francisco-based boutique hospitality chain Sonder and the building owners have recognized its intrinsic value and hidden beauty and have signed a long-term lease to create a boutique hotel. The proposed adaptive reuse will convert the upper five floors of the historic office building into a 41-room boutique hotel; floors which have been largely vacant for decades.
The building owners are Shai Town Realty Group and GW Properties with design work from NORR Architects. The seven-story building was originally designed for L.E. Waterman Company, a leading manufacturer of fountain pens, by the distinguished architectural firm of Holabird & Roche in 1919. Waterman Company occupied the building until 1938.
Preservation Chicago applauds Shai Town Realty Group, GW Properties, and Sonder’s adaptive reuse of historic office buildings as boutique hotels. Successful Sonder hotels are located in Rome, London, New York, San Francisco, New Orleans and Montreal. We welcome Sonder to Chicago and wish them great success. We also encourage them to continue to expand to other historic Chicago buildings which require reinvestment and reactivation.