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Fire Station 5, recently completed at 2830 Central St. and designed by the architectural firm Muller & Muller, is very good news. It is a simple, well-articulated solution, done with economy and sensitivity. The building consists of three elements: a glass-enclosed apparatus bay in the center flanked by two red-brick volumes.  The apparatus bay is well-planned, with three doors to the street and one to the alley, so that no engine backs in from the street.  As a result, traffic is not disrupted and is safer.  One of the side elements is low and contains utilities.  The other has two stories and houses the dayroom, kitchen, sleeping facilities and bathrooms, with equal access for male and female firefighters. The ground-floor corner of the two-story volume is “cut away” on the first floor to emphasize the pedestrian entrance next to the pleasant sign reading EVANSTON FIRE STATION 5.  The building is a great addition to the

Central Street

cityscape.

 

Just west of, and adjacent to, the fire station is an old house recently spruced up with a very attractive entrance pergola that has transformed a mundane masonry volume into “architecture” that invites one in. The house is now the office of Morgante-Wilson Architects; anyone curious about the remarkably well-done two-story atrium may tell the architects I sent them. (Elissa Morgante was my student and Fred Wilson a colleague at the School of Architecture at UIC).

 

In the good-news category, the

900 Chicago Avenue

building has, at very long last, completed the wall abutting the train embankment along the

Main Street

façade. Finally!

 

When they are completed, two high-rise complexes also will be “good news.” One is at

1567 Maple Ave.

and is a major improvement over the originally submitted, historicizing, dark volume. The other complex is the four-tower Sienna apartment complex, between Ridge and Oak. Two of the towers are completed and if the missing two match these in visual interest, it will be a handsome project. I wait with hope the opportunity to review it.

 

After all this good news, it is time for some bad news. The three-story townhouses on the north side of

Church Street, east

of

McCormick Boulevard

, are a real disappointment — monotonous, mundane and cheap-looking.

 

The worst news is all the vacant lots that seem to be increasing with regularity. The saddest is the southwest corner of Chicago and Main that had to be backfilled when the prospective project did not go ahead. Perhaps no buildings should be torn down before new construction is assured. We all remember how long Sherman Plaza was a hole in the ground. Now, in addition to Main and Chicago, we have the sites at Kendall College, at Oak and Emerson, at the site of the old cinema at the 1700 block on Central, Church and Darrow and more. Wouldn’t these sites serve Evanston better as playgrounds, ballparks or ice-skating  rinks? I know — there are issues of liability, safety, maintenance,  and the like, but surely, the Plan Commission and City Council can come up with  better than a fenced-in or open eyesore.