Another major Northwestern University construction project will soon go before the preservation commission for approval, not long after the city committee voted down a parking garage on the university’s south campus.
Northwestern is planning to construct a new, $40 million parking garage on its north campus that will provide 1,125 spots as well as new weight and fitness rooms and space for some academic programs, according to a press release from the university. The proposed building will be connected to the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion/Norris Aquatics Center at 2311 Campus Dr.
“The new facility will provide significantly expanded and improved space for fitness, wellness and other programs for use by the entire Northwestern community,” Northwestern VP for athletics and recreation Jim Phillips said in a press release.
University officials need preservation commission approval for the new building because it is located on a landmark lot of record, as designated by the city. According to an ordinance adopted in 1994, anyone planning construction on a landmark lot must first obtain a certificate of appropriateness from the city’s preservation commission. There are 12 landmark buildings on Evanston’s campus, meaning roughly half the campus is located in a landmark lot of record, according to city planner and preservation coordinator Carlos Ruiz.
The issue came up recently when Northwestern sought approval for a 435-car parking garage and visitor center planned for 1841 Sheridan Road. When the preservation commission reviewed the plans last fall, they voted unanimously to deny a certificate of appropriateness. Members of the commission said they denied Northwestern’s application because of their concerns about the proposed building’s height, location on the lakeshore and visual relationship to Fisk Hall, which dates to 1899.
The city council stepped in to the matter in October, when Evanston aldermen voted to overrule the preservation commission and grant the university a certificate of appropriateness for the parking garage near Clark Street Beach. Aldermen later approved an agreement with Northwestern allowing the university to build a fire lane for the building on city property, which will double as a public bike path. In return for the use of the land, Northwestern will shoulder the cost of constructing and maintaining the path.
The preservation commission is expected to take up the issue of the north campus parking garage at a meeting later in January, according to Ruiz. In the meantime, Northwestern University officials were planning to present their plans for north campus to preservation commission members during a meeting Jan. 10.
In order to construct the new facility, Northwestern plans to relocate North Campus Drive, which runs from Lincoln Avenue south into campus, to the west side of the new building. Officials also plan to build a new entrance to the athletics center, on the south side of the facility. Once complete, the new building will house a weight room and fitness studios as well as office space and meetings rooms for fitness and recreation staff on the first floor, according to the release. It will also provide space for Northwestern’s audiology clinic, its speech/language/learning clinic and the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.
The new structure will provide six levels of parking and will replace a surface lot with roughly 400 spaces, according to the university. The new parking lot is also expected to make up for roughly 450 spaces that will be lost when the university begins work on a new building for the Kellogg School of Management.
The parking garage will be built as the first phase of construction, and is expected to be completed in early 2014, according to the university.
“We anticipate that there will be some disruption in traffic and parking patterns during construction, but when the new structure is complete, we will have additional parking, improved recreational facilities, and new space for academic and clinical programs,” Ron Nayler, associate vice president for facilities management, said in the release.
According to the university, the parking garage is just one piece of a major new athletics and recreation complex planned for the university’s north campus. Another large, multipurpose facility is planned, as well as renovations and additions to the Crown Sports Pavilion and Norris Aquatics Center. Northwestern President Morton Schapiro recently announced that the university had collected some $55 million so far in donations for athletics and recreation.
"This bold investment in a multi-purpose complex for athletics and recreation on the lakefront will help foster the kind of vibrant, tight-knit community outlined in the University's strategic plan," Schapiro said in a press release announcing the gifts. "The benefits of these facilities will extend to the entire Northwestern community.”