Friday, January 27, 2012

Monopoly Houses in Evanston

I don't usually write about the suburbs.  Which is odd, since I find myself there so frequently.  Anyway, this row of houses is near the two major institutions of our life as parents- Felix and Theo's pediatrician and the drive-through Starbucks at Central and Crawford.  There are others, but sadly these two remain constant.

2200 block of Crawford, Evanston, IL
These houses always catch my eye.  There are at least a dozen of them concentrated in this area, built in 1952 and 1953 according to the Cook County Assessor.  The gable form is about the most traditional residential shape possible, but there are some subtle modernist touches.  There's no concern with creating a symmetrical facade.  Instead the architect has located small windows higher where privacy was desirable and opened up the front of the homes with floor to ceiling windows for the primary family spaces. 

Interestingly, these homes have become more traditional-looking over time.  Many of the original undivided windows have been replaced with multi-pane colonial-type windows.  The one on the far right was renovated into a half-timbered Tudor Revival knockoff. 

View of the back of the houses, looking West. Note the various rear additions.
Even though these homes are similar in regard to massing there are significant additions at the back.  The shape of these buildings lend themselves to the traditional ways to add space, such as dormers, porches, and wing additions.  The second house from the right even doubled in size, but it's difficult to see that from Crawford.

The arrangement of the homes is a standard technique of mid-century developers.  Find a profitable design, then flip or rotate the plans until there's an impression of variety.  It doesn't fool anybody, but it still often succeeds in creating a subdivision with an interesting use of space. 

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