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Construction started on a $148 million apartment development in downtown Evanston.  It is being billed by co-developers Fifield Companies and Carroll Properties as the first high-rise going up downtown since the economic downturn.  A press release said the two towers will contain a total of 356 luxury units at 1881 Oak Ave. and 1890 Maple Ave. and will be connected by a four-story structure containing three floors of parking and a fourth-floor deck.  The tower at 1881 Oak will be 16 stories tall, while the 1890 Maple tower will be 14 stories.

At 69,348 square feet, the sites combined make up the largest undeveloped land parcel downtown, according to City documents.
 
The news is good but also anxiety-provoking: Is it good design or just mediocre? Why is the architect’s name not in the press release? It would tell a lot. Some outstanding developers do care and allow architects to design buildings that enrich neighborhoods all over the greater Chicago area.
 
And, back to a delicate topic, without a watchdog, design organization in such buildings have been constructed.
 
Design Evanston is an advocacy group without City authority for binding review, a dog that barks but is not allowed to bite.
 
As it is, we live with mediocrity and with buildings that are just plain ugly.