Evanston Arts Council evaluates plans for Robert Crown Center


(Noah Frick-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer)

Architect Andy Tinucci walks the Evanston Arts Council through his design for the new Robert Crown Community Center. The council met Tuesday to discuss potential public art displays in the future building.

Wilson Chapman, Reporter

The Evanston Arts Council discussed plans for public art displays at the new Robert Crown Community Center development during a meeting in the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center on Tuesday.

Engineering and capital planning bureau chief Lara Biggs told The Daily that talks about building the new center began in 2016, although discussions about renovating the facility date back to the early 2000s. She said senior project manager Stefanie Levine started the proposal as a way of addressing overcrowding within the current building.

“The number of people who utilize (Robert Crown) has grown to the point where it is very cramped,” Biggs said. “The facilities are simply too small to effectively meet the needs of the Evanston community.”

The new building will focus on creating a sense of connection for local residents, Biggs said. It will be almost twice as large as the old building and feature most of the same facilities, she said, including a gymnasium, ice rinks and art rooms.

Biggs said the building was designed to make facilities connected and accessible: A library is located in the main lobby, and the ice rink and gymnasium areas are clearly visible. This design is intended to emphasize that the interests of Evanston residents are intertwined with one another, and the people who utilize the center can receive support from fellow city residents, Biggs said.

Construction will begin later this year, Biggs said, and the building is expected to be finished in 2020.

Andy Tinucci of Woodhouse Tinucci Architects presented both building plans and various art that could be displayed in the building, including statues, illuminations, projections and murals. Tinucci said even though the budget set aside for art pieces is currently small, committee members will still be able to acquire “incredible” pieces for the center.

“The idea that people could come to this facility for not only recreation and not only knowledge and not only community but also art is incredibly exciting,” Tinucci said.

Council members said they will form committees to select artwork for the building. They emphasized making the space both child-friendly and aesthetically pleasing.

Although the Arts Council often provides feedback on public art displays, its involvement in the Robert Crown project is unique because members play an important role in decisions about the art on display, Arts Council co-chair Lisa Degliantoni said. She said this is due to the nature of community centers as hubs for Evanston and the need for the art displayed to be inclusive and representative of all residents.

“Community centers are Evanston’s center,” Degliantoni said. “The art should appeal in a broad community sense.”

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