Thursday, June 08, 2006

Mini-Manhattan Rising on Evanston's Fountain Square

This week's Crain's Chicago Business includes a brief blurb on developer Thomas Rozak's intention to construct a 38 story residential/hotel tower on Evanston's Fountain Square. The Square, consisting of a fountain, some trees, seating, and tall brick columns commemorating the city's war dead, is slowly being overwhelmed by new, high-density projects.

On one corner is Schipporeit-Heinrich Associates's 1969 Chase Building (originally First National Bank) 22 stories, and 277 feet high, and, according to Emporis, the first skyscaper in Evanston. Lead designer George Shipporeit, who also designed Lake Point Tower, created a tall classically Miesian shaft set off by a one-story, circular, glass-walled banking rotunda to the south. To its west is Daniel Coffey's Sherman Plaza, 25 stories, 276 feet, and currently nearing completion. In between is the classically simple, 5 story International-style Fountain Square building, a short stack between two tall bookends, set to be demolished for the Rozak project, which will soar above its two neighbors.

Evanston continues to be in the grip of a building boom. On still another Fountain Square corner is David Hovey's 2002 Optima Towers, 13 stories, 136 feet, with the the orange balconies that have become a Hovey trademark.

Chase Plaza includes a generous amount of open space and landscaping, but the newer structures tend to hog the lot lines. Fountain Square itself is set, not centrally, but off the northern edge of the intersection, and what should be a strong urban plaza is increasingly a limp, unfocused appendange to the buildings around it.

One of our readers submitted the following images for the project - a site plan, and a rendering. The tower is actually set off away from Fountain Square, to the north end of the site. Facing Fountain Square, itself, is a two-story retail structure which is so bland and generic that you can't help but wonder why they don't just incorporate the rather handsome international-style building already on that corner.


Anonymous said...

Well here you can see the rendering:

It becomes more slender as the function changes from retail to hotel to residential

Here is a site plan:

As you can see, the building's rounded corners seem to infact take up less space.

The developer will also spend money to renew the concrete and bunker-like Fountain Square.

Anonymous said...

How about something with human scale?? Those familiar with Evanston will see parallel with the alucobond-like movie theatre meets a humanized yet bastardized Atlanta's Peachtree Center. Apart from the corner building it might be better to keep the existing buildings as a base and then build a hotel in the center. I used to work in the corner building and while it was a fun building to work in it will be no big loss, especially when one remembers the historic building that was there 50+ years ago.

Anonymous said...

When you said it was to go on fountain square, I was very pleased that the awful plaza would finally be removed. It seems however, that the Rozak project is actually behind the square. The square was designed by a traffic engineering firm who had hired an in-house landscape architect for the project (cheaper than teaming with a real landscape firm, apparently) . They were also responsible for the mini-expressway traffic intersection on the corner, which is a curse to pedestrians, and also for the shepards-crook streetlights still blighting the retail streets in Evanston.

Anonymous said...

I'm from Wilmette, and I'm looking forward to the new skyscraper they're building at fountian square!!!