Many outstanding buildings have been discussed in this column during its 10 years. Many have also been overlooked because they did not fit into any issues’ particular themes of investigation. This article will attempt to remedy the situation and call to the reader’s attention some buildings and their designers that have been left out of Evanston’s architectural honor roll.
One caveat: The listing will start in this issue with modernism – the nearest in our visual memory – and a future issue will cover what preceded it – the Prairie School and other turn-of-the-century antecedents.
The two structures that stand out most are the Miesian towers by Mies van der Rohe’s student George Schipporeit, former head of the architectural program at Illinois Institute of Technology. One is the charcoal grey tower of the bank at the northeast corner of Davis Street and Orrington Avenue. The other is the white tower at the northwest corner of Sherman Avenue and Grove Street, currently the home of Rotary International.
On the east side of Asbury Avenue, a couple of houses south of Dempster Street, sits the powerfully designed, modern concrete residence that was at one time Mr. Schipporeit’s own.
Another strictly Miesian building is the elegant, powerful one-story bank building on the southwest corner of Green Bay Road and Central Street by the late David Haid, who himself owned a small court structure well hidden from public view on the east side of Michigan Avenue just south of Burnham Place.
Helmuth Jahn, also a former Mies student, designed the now regrettably dated post-modern office building at the north-east corner of Church Street and Oak Avenue.
Among the work of noted designers in Evanston one ought not miss the townhouses by Stanley Tigerman, former director of the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Architecture, at the northeast corner of Hinman and Kedzie.
James Nagle, at one time of the firm of Booth and Nagle, designed the brilliantly simple one-story house for Paul and Margaret Lurie on the north side of Keeney Street east of Sheridan Road.
The other former partner, Lawrence Booth, was the architect of the Weissbourds’ elegant two-story brick home on Sheridan Road overlooking Lake Michigan. He is also slated to be the architect of the tallest high rise in Evanston, if it ever materializes.
In the opinion of this reviewer, the most talented of Chicago designers was the late Harry Weese. Though his design for the apartment building at 1630 Chicago Ave. was elegant, simple and well-ended on the top floor, it came too late in his career and in his illness, and the design lacked his touch of brilliance.
This portion of this “who’s who” in Evanston architecture concludes with Walter Netsch, a partner at the firm of Skidmore Owings & Merrill, who designed the Northwestern University administration building, where the elegant clock tower is the finishing accent of Evanston’s downtown.
This architectural honor roll should include David Hovey as well, but he has been frequently covered in these articles already.
The careful reader also might have noted that, as stated in the introduction, all the architects in this review were strict modernists. Those who preceded them – the late romantics, followers of the Prairie School and the followers of the Art Deco – belong to a future article.