The Robert Crown Community Center was recently awarded a 2022 Design Excellence Merit Award by the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. 

The multipurpose building was designed by the Chicago architecture firm, Woodhouse Tinucci Architects, and opened to the public in 2020. 

Robert Crown Community Center
The running track at Robert Crown Community Center encircles an ice rink. Credit: Ellen Galland

The AIA jury commented that “the Robert Crown Community Center offers a complex hybrid of recreational and educational programming to the surrounding community…A transparent design process engaged community members in more than 20 public meetings. The resulting structure stays true to the feedback shared with its architects, opening itself up to the site and marrying the inside with the outside.

“To allow for more space on the tight site, the gymnasium is lofted above the entry, creating an exterior public shelter with views into the gym as a foreshadowing of the activities within. Once inside, visitors have views of the essential rooms from the center, connecting them to the community of use throughout the space.”

The building has also received a Chicago Building Congress Merit Award in 2021, as well as 2021 Project of the Year awards from the American Public Works Association Suburban Branch and Chicago Metro chapters, and a 2021 APWA National Project of the Year award (the first time Evanston has won a national APWA award.)

According to Lara Biggs, city engineer, Robert Crown Community Center “continues to be our most used community center, offering services such as a free indoor running track, that are not publicly available elsewhere to the community. 

An engineering report found that cracks like these in the floor of the Robert Crown Community Center were “normal shrinkage cracks.” Credit: Mary Gavin

“With other services, such as the library and the preschool, the center continues to serve as a community destination for families and patrons of all ages.”

She also noted that the city recently received a report from the engineering firm Wiss Janney Elstner about the first-floor concrete slab cracks.

The City Council had approved $12,800 at its Sept. 27, 2022 meeting for the engineers to investigate possible causes of the cracks.

The engineering report determined that these are “normal shrinkage cracks” which often occur in concrete as it cures. Treatment is not recommended at this time, although they could be “routed and sealed.” 

Biggs said city “staff does not recommend this treatment since the sealant can become a maintenance issue.”

For more information about the Robert Crown center, please see the RoundTable’s coverage of the opening of Robert Crown below.

Ellen Galland

Ellen Galland has had an architectural practice in Evanston since 1983. For more than 20 years, she has written articles for the RoundTable, including the column “Ask An Architect" and "The Green Column"...

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  1. Another “token” award for Evanston, or its facilities? Way back when I sought my degree, I was told that a doctor hides his mistakes with flowers, an architect covers his with ivy, but an engineer’s errors are living examples of his stupidity. This structure was originally mismanaged resulting in cost overruns. Requests are still being mailed out by “Friends of the Crown Center” asking for contributions? No entrance at Dodge for buses? Parking & entering from the lot on the other side can be awkward, especially for the disabled. Then, in lieu of the stairs in front, said disabled must go to the back for the one (1) elevator?
    The Chicago Chapter of the AIA should have conducted an in-depth instead of their veneer study!