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It would be great to be enthusiastic and excited about all three new apartment buildings in Evanston. Well, maybe another time.
The first new building, AMLI Evanston, is on the northeast corner of Kedzie and Chicago. The project was originally submitted for review to a group from Design Evanston. That, however, was before the final design; further, the rendering of the building exterior was not legible. The next thing we knew, the building was going up. With it came the shock of seeing the exterior come to life, confusing volumes made ridiculous by illogically placed brick colors, balconies, roof shapes and various decorative tricks. To say the least, the building is unattractive and is now a part of visual Evanston.
Central Station, on the site of the old Evanston movie theater on Central Street, renewed my belief in anonymous architects – this architect’s name never appeared on the construction site. This building is a simple volume, and it gains visual interest by the tripartite windows, a large center opening with smaller ones on each of its sides. It would be nice if the architect’s name were known.
The third building, 1717 on Ridge Avenue, completed the former Sienna project between Maple and Green Bay Road and is the best of the three. It was designed by Larry Booth, a noted architect with integrity. The simple windows are elegantly organized, and the all-glass top floor crowns the building. The balconies on the Maple side are also better designed than the cheaply handled ones on the Green Bay side. In spite of this the building is a very good one.
The first of these three buildings could have been saved and the second one improved if Evanston had a committee of design professionals reviewing all projects and advising the aldermen. This writer has been urging the idea for more than 10 years. Buildings that are not well designed are part of our community longer than many of us. Surely it is time.