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Working with City officials and listening to Evanston residents, the firms Woodhouse Tinucci Architects and MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects are narrowing in on plans for the new Robert Crown Center.

Details are filling in for the 90,000-square-foot building with two ice rinks, locker rooms, a gymnasium, a library branch, a preschool, and several multi-purpose rooms within the building and turf athletic fields, parking and open space outside.

The plans so far call for the interior spaces to be bright, taking advantage as much as possible of natural lighting and minimizing the need for walled rooms on the ground floor. While there would be a separate pre-school area, the lobby would have direct views to the garden outside and to all the functions inside, the architects say.

The tentative plan for public art is to integrate the artwork into the design rather than to “apply” it to the finished building. A reading garden would be adjacent to the library.

Although the two-story building would be larger than the present one it will replace, the architects say they are incorporating traffic plans, access, and outdoor lighting that would be sensitive to the surrounding neighborhood. 

The building envelope would be high-performance, using renewable energy, efficient plumbing fixtures, and natural light supplemented by LED fixtures.  Most outside spaces would be permeable; still in the exploration stage are the possibilities of having some solar panels and of finding a way to harvest rainwater.

As much as possible, the existing mature trees would be saved, and 38% of the entire site would be open space – a slight increase (3%) over the previously proposed plan.  Lighting on the 234,000 square feet of outdoor athletic fields would be directed downward and inward, illuminating the action of the sport but projecting as little as possible into the neighborhood.

At 85,000 square feet, the parking lot – with an east-west orientation – would be nearly as large as the new building and would accommodate about 225 cars in a double row. 

The west curb-cut will have to align with Dewey Avenue and cannot be farther west than it is at present; it should have a straight north-south lane to avoid congestion and allow for emergency vehicles.  Traffic improvement recommendations include adding a left-hand turn lane on Main Street for the primary entry to the center.

The expectation is that construction will begin next spring, and the new center will be open in the fall of 2019.