Architect Nathan Kipnis will get another chance to try to persuade the Preservation Commission to approve his plans for a new home at 1210 Maple Ave. in the Evanston’s Ridge Historic District.
The commission voted Tuesday night to continue the certificate of appropriateness case until the panel’s next meeting on July 12.
But before the vote, commission members and neighbors complained that the proposed home’s contemporary style would be out of place among the neighborhood’s many Victorian-era dwellings.
Stuart A. Cohen, vice-chair of the commission, questioned the sufficiency of Kipnis’ efforts to design a well-integrated structure.
He said, “As an innovative designer, I don’t think you’ve taken on the challenge of how you make a house in a modern idiom and look for elements that could potentially have a sympathetic relationship to adjacent houses.”
Kipnis pushed backed against such objections while presenting his work to the commission.
“The choice is to make the home true to its time, or to design a home that pretends to be from a different time period,” he said. “[The latter] is what they do at Disney World and is completely at odds with the notion that the district is a collection of authentic home styles.”
He also pointed to features, such as a pitched roof and specialized window width, that the home would have in common with neighboring properties.
“There’s no question this looks different,” he said. “But what we’re trying to do is make it relate in a number of different ways from a design standpoint and not just kind of flinging this into the neighborhood.”
The would-be owner of the planned home, Margaret Stender, said, “I was thrilled when we discovered the lot connected to 1214 Maple and its possibility in that beautiful neighborhood.”
Stender says she plans to retire in the home and that, “We are attempting to build a home that connects to the history, but that is also signaling that it is ready for the 21st century and beyond.”
“I object to this design because it doesn’t harmonize with the neighboring houses,” said John Tuzson of 1220 Maple Ave. He added, “I am not allowed to change my house precisely to preserve the features that it shares with other houses on the block.”
“It does stand out as a contemporary design where roofs are sort of simplified and idealized, and this roof sort of does that,” Peter Siegal of 1217 Maple Ave. told the commission. “It doesn’t have the character, and both the pitch and the form of the lines of the roof are really not sympathetic at all to any of the homes on the home block.”
After the public comments, Commissioner Mark Simon said to Kipnis, “I think with this block and the challenges, it’s going to take all your skills to come up with a way to do that beautiful home in a way that has that compatibility with the block and hopefully we can approve.”
Kipnis said he would rework the design by next month to address the concerns raised at the meeting.
Related story: Neighbors seek to block new home.
Our tax dollars hard at work helping rich people squabble over how closely their mansions should match
I get the concept of protecting historic homes, but when starting with a blank canvas (en empty lot) and utilizing modern design concepts and high performance design, materials and components… it’s time this community looks to the future which is going to be very different from the past.
I know Mr. Kipnis and respect his work in designing thoughtful green homes and employing cutting edge technology and best practices in all his designs and executions. Just look what the Evanston History Center published about him (in re to their speakers bureau) https://www.evanstonhistorycenter.org/speakers-bureau/nathan-kipnis-aia-leed-bdc/
Respectfully submitted, Brian G. Becharas
I agree with Brian Becharas. I love the beautiful old homes all through Evanston and the North Shore. However, there already are a few very modern houses here and there, which are interesting to see among the older structures. This home looks lovely from the photo. And yes, it is different from its neighbors, but I would not mind it being built next to my 1923 place.
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