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Why no benches, lights or playground equipment in this vacant lot at the corner of Chicago and Main?
The writer of this column has, for the past decade, reviewed and criticized new buildings as well as old ones. There is a reason behind every decision to review or to abstain from discussing a project: Not reviewing has consequences just as reviewing does.
The apartment building on the northwest corner of Chicago and Main is one of the problem-projects. This reviewer supported the project, having failed to recognize the unsuitable dissonance between the brick corner volume and the long white building attached to it on the north, and was saddened by the cheap-looking screening material above the first floor.
Today’s column was intended to be an article supporting Tom Roszak’s incomplete project, the Sienna – certainly his best in Evanston – between Oak and Ridge avenues. The accidental collapse of a portion of the garage and the declining economy unfortunately killed the project.
A number of buildings in Evanston should have been reviewed and judged, but were not. The first was the shopping center at the southwest corner of Dempster and Dodge, followed by the residence that was painted a dark plum and green on the north side of Dempster across the street from Beth Emet synagogue. Both were designed by former students of this reviewer who kept silent out of respect for them. Similarly, this reviewer was uncomfortable criticizing the building just west of the elevated tracks on the south side of Church Street, as it was designed by the firm where this reviewer had been a partner.
On the other hand, no discomfort was felt in criticizing the townhouse project at Chicago and South Boulevard. It is way too dense and built without setback along Chicago. The fears of the neighbors and the alderman lost Evanston a great opportunity to build an eight-story midrise and townhouses with ample green space between them. This writer publicly castigated the project, but not relentlessly enough.
The vacant lots are another problem. One is at the southeast corner of Chicago and Main; the other is the former Evanston Theater site on Central Street. Why no benches, lights or playground equipment? Add to these the Kendall College site where attractive townhouses were proposed by a very fine designer, Larry Booth, killed again by uninformed and timid neighbors.
To conclude, sometimes a building is so poorly concocted and is architecturally so incoherent that it is beyond criticism. Such is 2935 Central St.
This reviewer has pangs of conscience with regard to not having taken a stronger stand on each of these issues. Not to deal with the difficult, the uncomfortable or even the unpopular is a “sin of omission.” Mea culpa.