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If It Ain't Broke


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Dear Reader:

I believe Gateway Plaza will be a positive addition to Rogers Park; however, it does not have to be at the expense of the urban fabric of the community. I'm responding to the article entitled "Sticking Point," 1/16/98. As a 12-year Rogers Park resident and an architect, I cringe every time I see a fine older building come down in my neighborhood. I appreciate Leo Passage's commitment to his building regardless of his reasons for selling or not selling.

Parking for the project is important and necessary and must be accommodated. At the Howard/Clark corner, anchoring the corner and maintaining definition of the streetscape ought to be goals for an inner-city mall. The Pivot Point building at this location achieves these goals. Parking can be located behind; anyone who has ever parked downtown knows this works.

Pivot Point is a limestone building worth saving. Mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems can be replaced and interiors remodeled. The lobby currently has more grace and charm than any retail construction I've seen in a long time. It should be saved, not just because it is old, but because we are not likely to do it better this time.

It is cost prohibitive in new construction to re-create the labor-intensive details of yesterday. In addition to the cost issue, older buildings offer a sense of history, belonging--a sense of "place." Every time I pass the Granada Centre and, more recently, the previous location of the classical terra-cotta bank at Clark and Greenleaf, I am painfully reminded of how the replacement buildings lack these qualities.

I'd like to put some action behind my words. I volunteer to do some axonometric massing studies and submit them to DevCorp's design group. Schemes would locate parking behind the existing Pivot Point building while still maintaining the important visual connection of the rotunda to street traffic.

Some things are very easy to undo, but next to impossible to do again. An older building is such a thing--easy to wreck, next to impossible to re-create in today's economic environment. I'd like to see history show that we had the foresight to progress and the sensitivity to do it without destroying our ties to the past.

Ruth Olin


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