The new Firehouse #5 at 2830 Central St., photographed last week (early June 2008). It has all its masonry up and is moving towards interior completion. Destined to be the first municipal "green building" in Evanston, LEED-certified at the silver level or better, it nonetheless serves, to me, as an example of what happens when citizens are not vigilant. The building dwarfs the adjacent, thoughtful Morgante Wilson building to its west, completed just last year, and the sheer, blank wall has a "what were they thinking?" factor. Although it does sort of match the Harris Bank facility now across the street, which overpowers the fireplace and grill shop to its east with a similar big blank wall. I am happy that the firehouse design has sustainable features. But green need not mean ugly and intrusive.

Government buildings should instill pride, and sometimes still do (I like the main library, for example). But, too often, when no one's watching, we end up with Borg cubes. Yet here, adequate notice was given, and there was at least one public meeting, possibly more, organized by Ald. Moran. So how did it happen? The project came up right on the heels of all the work on the first B1A district, as well as the "McMansion" overlay district, and, in the words of one neighborhood activist, "We were all exhausted and just missed this one." The building doesn't look as bad from the east, where pedestrians and drivers will see large glass doors, inset from the sidewalk, and an overhang. I dunno. Maybe I am out of touch on this one. Do you like this? Would you like to see more architecture like this in Evanston? Should this and the Harris building be our template for the future? Feel free to comment.


And I hope it was the least expensive design the City Council saw before approving it. If so, that's about all it's got going for it. Let's hope the taggers don't view that west wall as a tabula rasa.

Henry Kisor

Jeff's story is timely in that I had been wondering how a building so incongruent with Central Street came to be approved. Did the Plan Commission proceedings on this building precede or follow the formation of CSNA? If the former, I'm confident CSNA will be on the lookout for any other inappropriate buildings on Central. If the latter, I think it's a signal that CSNA would be well-served to have a structured monitoring process in place (which may already exist, and I simply don't know about it).

Thanks, Jeff.

Barb Rakley

* Resolution 1-R-08 – Authorizes the City Manager to Sign an Agreement between the City of Evanston and Robert Smart for Public Art at Fire Station #5 -Consideration of proposed Resolution 1- R-08, which authorizes the City Manager to execute an agreement with Robert Smart for Public Art at Fire Station #5 in the not to exceed amount of $40,000. Funded by the Percent for Art ordinance in connection with construction for the new station. * APPROVED - CONSENT AGENDA MOTION &