The new Robert Crown Community Center is a 95,000 square foot complex situated on 16-acres within a Chicago north shore residential neighborhood. The original 1974 facility had long served as an important social and recreation hub for the City of Evanston, but it was structurally failing. In 2017 the City of Evanston retained Woodhouse Tinnuci Architects as the lead architect to design a state-of-the-art community center, with ECT providing landscape architecture design and innovative stormwater strategies for the new center.
The modern high-tech facility includes two full sized ice rinks, a new branch of the Evanston Public Library, indoor athletic space and running track, artificial turf fields, and preschool and after school education facility. The outdoor areas include flexible open space for picnicking and frisbee, turf sport fields, pop-up event space, and circuit walking and biking trails. An outdoor reading room provides garden access for library patrons and a natural classroom for the preschool. The one-of-a kind playground is designed to replicate a rolling landform theme through rubber surfaced mounds and sculptural play pieces.
Over 70 percent of the site’s stormwater storage is provided under the sport fields in the gravel subbase. The project protects heritage trees throughout the property through a combination of fine spot grading and establishing the finish floor elevation to minimize soil removal.
ECT structured the site design to support following development goals and objectives:
- Enhance existing programming
- Outdoor opportunities for all
- Strong neighborhood focus
- ‘Right size’ parking and fields
- Multiple transit modes
- Safe circulation – both to and from, and on site
- Site organizational clarity
The team prepared a site landform analysis to assess topographical relief. This allowed the sites’ circulation patterns to creatively mix with the landforms and create “outdoor rooms,” while minimizing soil removal costs.
The center is scheduled to open to the public summer of 2020.