Liverpool architects begin Chicago apartments project

Chicago Building in Liverpool city centre was where John Lennon bough his first guitar and now architects ArchiPhonic are to start work on a residential conversion. Tony McDonough reports

Chicago Buildings
The Chicago Building in Whitechapel in Liverpool


Architects at ArchiPhonic are to start work on the interior design of Liverpool city centre building that is part of local music folklore and is being converted into apartments.

In February, city planners gave the go-head for the conversion of the Chicago Building in Whitechapel into 24 apartments. From 1934 to 1995 it housed Hessy’s music store where Beatle John Lennon bought his first guitar.

Lennon went to the shop in the 1950s when he was trying to form a band with fellow art student and early Beatles member, Stuart Sutcliffe. He persuaded his Aunt Mimi to buy him a guitar. He would later recall that as they walked out of the store with the instrument, Aunt Mimi turned to him and said: “You might have the guitar, but you’ll never make a living out of it.”

Liverpool-based ArchiPhonic has been instructed to complete the interior design phase of the Chicago Building renovation which will see conversion of the upper floors into five studio, 12 one-bedroom and seven two-bedroom apartments across four floors, all located around an existing atrium.

After working with the Liverpool-based architectural design practice on the 17,000 sq ft scheme’s earlier phase, property owner Sara and Hossein Asset Holdings invited the team back to complete interior design proposals for the building which is close to Matthew Street. Holland & Barrett and Wong’s Jewellers on the ground floor will be unaffected by the project.

Strip-out is set to begin and the team will be working with project managers and cost consultants LXA, who will be managing the project. Architect Harriet Powell-Hall from ArchiPhonic, said: “As the strip-out begins we’ll be able to get to the bones of the building and understand it on a deeper level, which will inform our interior design proposals.

Chicago Building
Interior of the Chicago Building in Liverpool


“Our intention is to work with the fabric of the building – the steel beams and exposed brick – and enhance what is there, to create a positive experience for future residents, offering a bigger mix of unit types, better circulation and far more natural light.

“We will also seek to identify ways to maintain and reference its musical heritage and its connections to the wider history of the city.”

Work on the building will be predominantly internal, with the facade being retained to maintain the building’s heritage and preserve the area’s character and appearance. Mahmoud Shahi from Sara and Hossein Asset Holdings, added: “We are pleased to be progressing to the next phase of this exciting project.

“ArchiPhonic’s hard work in securing planning permission and the team’s understanding of the building and our objectives meant they were the obvious choice for us when considering who to appoint to undertake the interior design phase. We’re looking forward to working together again.”

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