Getting your Evanston news from Facebook? Try the Evanston RoundTable’s free daily and weekend email newsletters – sign up now!
Subscribe to the newsletter!
Having given 11 “awards” in the December issue to outstanding architectural designs built since 2002 (when I started this column) somehow seems to cast a shadow on the many outstanding buildings built just prior to 2002.
Here the situation will be rectified.
I will concentrate on buildings built during the 20 years prior to 2002. Single-family dwellings will not be included, since those were covered in a previous article.
I start with the two high-rises downtown that changed this small town into a city, like it or not. Both were designed by a former student of the famous architect Mies van der Rohe, George Shipporeit. One is the bank building on the northeast corner of Davis and Sherman. The other is the white-framed Rotary building, at the northwest corner of Grove and Sherman, that has a sunken court with very attractive landscaping.
Shortly thereafter, and not without a battle, the third high-rise appeared on the horizon at 1630 Chicago Ave.: the Park Evanston. This exposed concrete-frame apartment tower of good, clean design, sits on an orange-colored brick base that incorporates stores as well. Harry Weese and Associates was the architect for the project.
The influence of Mies van der Rohe can also be observed in the elegant bank building on the southwest corner of Green Bay and Central by another of his students and followers, David Haid.
Modernism was clearly the style of the period. Another former Mies student, the founder and owner of the development firm Optima, David Hovey, built the elegant and colorful townhouses at the southwest corner of Main and Michigan.
The Northwestern University
campus also includes a number of well-done buildings from the period that deserve to be mentioned. First are the library and the administration building with the clock tower, on Elgin Road facing Orrington, by Skidmore Owings and Merrill (Walter Netsch). My favorites are the dormitories on the north side of Sheridan facing Hinman by Booth Nagle and
Hartray and the addition to the Kellogg by De Stefano
The boldly modern Unitarian Church at the northwest corner of Ridge Avenue and Greenwood Street by the architects Schweiker & Elting must also be mentioned.
Post-modernism also left its monuments in Evanston. Helmuth Jahn designed the office building at the northeast corner of Church and Oak, a playful, whimsical building that attempted to shock with its boldness, a shock that through the years has worn off somewhat.
Another branch of post-modernism received its inspiration from the vernacular, from everyday forms and ornamentation. The Pope John XXIII school building on the west side of Ridge Avenue north of Washington Street was born in this spirit.
Any one of the buildings listed above would certainly have deserved my December issue “Christmas Gift” – had it been built after I started writing this column for the Evanston Round Table.
I have failed to include Evanston Place, the 200-unit apartment building with a 600-car City garage on the east side of Chicago Avenue between Church and Clark. It would surely have been included, had this column been written by anyone other than the architect of the building.