Robert Crown Community Center and Library
Evanston, Illinois, USA
Client : City of Evanston
Area : 134,000 sf
Program : Twin-Pad Arena (Spectator Seating, Changerooms), Double Gymnasium, Branch Library, Fitness Studios, Art Studios, Child Care Center, Multi-Purpose Community Rooms, Office Space, Administrative and Support Spaces, Outdoor Program (Two Soccer Fields, One American Football Field, Two Baseball Diamonds, Four Tennis Courts, Landscaped Spectator Viewing Terraces, Playground, Community Courtyard, Public Park)
Associated Architects : Woodhouse Tinucci Architects
After a decade of analysis, public consultation, and program review, the City of Evanston, Illinois—12 miles north of Chicago, and home to 75,000 people—elected to replace its fading 1975 ice rink and community centre with an entirely new facility, considerate of aesthetics, function, and budget. The previous RCCC’s siting at the east end of a multi-block park surrounded by single-family residences enabled MJMA to erect the new facility at the park’s west end, which allowed for uninterrupted interior programming throughout construction while also buffering the park interior from a busy thoroughfare.
The building’s essential form comprises two long, offset masses limited to two storeys in height to match the surrounding houses. Within these volumes are a pair of NHL-sized ice rinks running north–south, side by side; the eastern volume is taller, its roof gently graded downward from west-facing clerestories above raked spectator seating, with change rooms, referee rooms, and skate rental below. This eastern volume is also longer and contains, at its south end, a ground-floor library and second-floor gym. A two-storey concourse extends the width of both masses, separating ice rink from library and housing the entryway and lobby, as well as programmatic areas including a preschool, art rooms, multipurpose rooms, and a fitness centre with studio spaces. Elsewhere in the 134,000-square-foot interior are a community kitchen, concessions, and admin and support spaces.
Clerestories are not limited to the rink area; translucent glazing is used throughout the building to bring natural light to all its spaces—one in a battery of sustainability measures targeting LEED Silver, alongside land protection, bike and green vehicle stations, rainwater collection and management, optimized energy performance, and low-e materials, to name only a few.
Following the demolition of the original RCCC structure, the park will be re-landscaped with three multi-sport fields, tennis courts, and parking; closer to the structure are courtyard terraces and a screened reading garden connected to the library and community centre. At-grade glass around the perimeter of the building allows views both in (to the RCCC’s programming) and out (to the park and surrounding neighbourhood), making the new facility a welcoming space that’s destined to become a vital part of the City’s efforts to maximize the community’s quality of life.