The new Housing Authority of Cook County building, designed by architect Pappageorge Haymes Partners, in a design-build team with McHugh and Bowa Construction, is developing a 168 unit apartment building with a semi-public landscaped park on-grade amenity and below grade parking for 37 cars.
The site is at the northwest corner of Sherman and Emerson at the parking lot adjacent to the HACC’s Jane R. Perlman Apartments. This project is slated to include a combination of affordable, middle rate or ‘missing middle’ and market rate units to serve a diverse range of Evanstonians and is close to downtown and several transit options. It will be rental housing for the 55+ market including units for the low, middle, and market rate sectors.
Design Evanston is in favorable review of this building, due to its thoughtful design of providing affordable, missing middle and market rate housing, with a progressive design. The project has public amenities that include; setbacks to visually reduce the tallness of the tower, a set back at grade to create a park that the entire community can take advantage of, no new curb cuts are introduced in the design and the material palette includes glass and brick in keeping with other structures in the area.
Design Evanston suggested that the Architects look carefully at the number of parking spaces the building provides and create a comprehensive plan for additional parking within nearby structures that are not at capacity. Design Evanston also suggested looking at the impact of residents parking on nearby streets. Design Evanston felt that additional renderings of the North elevation of the building and rendered perspectives from a person ‘walking’ down the sidewalk, would help other reviewers realize the thoughtful care that went into the design of the building.
Design Evanston Project Review Standards
1. A project should address a perceived need in the city / community.
This project will provide much needed affordable, “Missing Middle” and market rate housing close to downtown and several transit options. The target audience is 55 years and older.
2. A project should provide for a bene?cial and appropriate use in the project’s geographical context.
This is a fully residential project in a residential neighborhood. The setback along the corner provides a neighborhood bene?t. The open corner and set back of the building provides public amenity to the neighborhood.
3. The project should be of appropriate and complementary size, scale and proportion for its respective physical context.
The project is an appropriate scale at 15 stories, considering the larger scale context (there are several buildings this tall and taller within a few blocks) and within the immediate context. The adjacent 11 story project to the north will mask some of its height to the residential neighborhood to the north and the LINK project to the west will mask some of the bulk. The design also incorporates a generous angled setback along Emerson to provide a landscape buffer and push the massing back from the sidewalk and the residential building to the south. The design also steps at the top to reduce the massing. As a result of the generous setbacks and the inclusion of affordable housing units, the building’s height and density increased.
4. The project should be representative of progressive, creative and sustainable design standards.
The design is progressive and creative, using contextual materials and responding to the pedestrian scale while providing sweeping views above. The incorporation of the setback and semi-public space is a creative way to improve the pedestrian scale while providing a unique design element for this urban location. The current intent is to target LEED Silver. The close proximity to transit will help with achieving LEED certification. Design Evanston recommends additional compliance options such as use of high performance glazing, ample insulation, and ef?cient mechanical equipment. The building will explore different options to meet the City of Evanston’s Bird Friendly requirements.
5. The project should provide for present and future economic growth.
The project provides much needed housing in the area and will provide a range of construction jobs during its erection and more permanent jobs related to the project’s maintenance and management once completed. Additional residents within walking distance of downtown shops, restaurants and entertainment venues provide opportunities for increased revenues for downtown businesses.
6. The project should have a high revenue generating / infrastructure cost ratio.
The project will be ?nancially sustainable, but due to the client’s mission statement and desire to provide as much affordable and mid-rate housing as possible, the ratio is not as high as a fully market rate project. The HACC is committed to building this facility on this site as it is one of their most important and valuable sites. The HACC is a public agency and not a developer, making this a unique project on a very important site providing affordable and missing middle housing, adjacent to downtown.
7. The project should provide for a positive experience at the street / sidewalk / pedestrian level.
The setback along Emerson will permit a semi-public landscaped corner for the project, intended to provide for a positive pedestrian experience. Additionally, the lowest levels of the project are clad in masonry to provide a pedestrian scale and a warm, tactile material. The taller portions of the tower are clad in glass, making the building transparent and reflective. The curving portion of the tower cantilevers out over an area where the ?rst three ?oors are held back to further extend this semi-public space. In addition, parking (37 spaces) is located below grade providing active uses for the lower ?oors of the building. There will be no new curb cuts along either street, so there will be no increased overlap of pedestrians and cyclists with motor vehicles.
8. The project should complement the practices and goals of “Complete Streets” and encourage multi-modal transportation use.
There are a number of ways this project complements the goals of Complete Streets. First, the design utilizes an existing curb cut to mitigate impacts on Sherman, a designated bike route. The design will incorporate an at-grade bike room and bike racks will be provided to encourage use. The site is also located within a few hundred feet of the nearest bus line, the “L” train, and Metra Station.
9. The project should provide a tangible list of public benefits.
A major public benefit, not offered by any past or current developers in Evanston, is the provision of affordable and missing-middle housing for Evanston residents. Another public benefit is that the Authority will maintain the park space at the southeast corner for use by the public. It was suggested by a DE member that the Authority could help pay for improvements to the nearby Foster CTA station.
There is another public benefit to the design—the circular driveway at the front of the building that takes passenger pick-up/drop-offs, small deliveries, et cetera off the street without necessitating additional curb cuts on Sherman Avenue. Since it is anticipated ride share will be a major component at this building, this is a thoughtful detail.