The recent posting of the Chicago 7 endangered architecture list left me in some confusion over just what the threat to Devon Avenue was. Sunday I took a stroll down Devon to shoot some documentation photos, and by chance found a bit of information.
The Chicago 7 list shows a rendering of a strange building at 2556 W. Devon Ave., but gives no indication of what it is — new builing? Teardown? Reskin? Turns out it’s a new 30-unit condo development, “Rockwell Square Residences”. It’s got a garage built in, and commercial space for lease at the sidewalk. If I’m reading the rendering correctly, the narrow end will face Devon, while the prominent and boldly-colored longer facade will face Rockwell, a residential side street. I like the forms, and I’ll be beside myself if they actually decorate it with all that color.
Most importantly, the land was already vacant before this project surfaced, serving as a surface parking lot.
The Avenue’s most impressive Modernist building is this streamline confection in concrete, now serving as a restaurant. The view above is from early 2006; but today, the building looks like this:
The vertical sign and street-level awning have been removed, and the facade has gotten a coat of white paint with maroon highlights, as well as some patching and repairs. Once I got past the shock of the long-exposed concrete being covered up, I have to admit that the change looks pretty good, and stays true to the spirit of the building’s form, if not the designer’s exact original intent. My one real complaint was that it no longer matches its concrete contemporaries to the east and west:
The Devon Building
The Beaux Arts-styled block starting at 2501 W. Devon was actually three buildings, hidden behind a unified series of facades. With a recent fire, however, it’s been tragically reduced to two buildings, with a painful gap between them.
The building’s demolition is a serious loss for urban design in general — this was a magnificent and imposing block, and unless the facade was salvaged for reinstallation, whatever eventually fills the gap is unlikely to match it.