Public Art Funding in Evanston, Illinois


By John W. Hammerschlag

High above the street at 1800 Maple Self Park in Evanston, Illinois, two figures balanced on a steel beam appear to be edging toward one another. The sculpture, by internationally known artist Hubertus von der Goltz, was installed in December 2009 and symbolizes people coming together, much like citizens and visitors of Evanston will meet each other around town.

A few blocks away, another parking facility has incorporated lights in the elevator lobbies to illuminate large icons fixed on the outward-facing windows, bringing a searching spotlight beam to mind. The spotlights also cast shadows from individuals in the lobbies onto the icons, establishing a human presence. On the street below, inscriptions titled “Silhouette+Shadow” are illuminated by the lights from the descending elevators. People passing by can view the phrases, which might evoke the effects ideation and creation have upon society. Created by the Chicago based artistic team of Krivanek+Breaux/Art+Design LLC, the multimedia piece known as “Search & Effect” was installed in 2014.

Some communities, such as Evanston, Illinois, embrace the idea that public art unites communities and enhances the city’s beauty while fostering a sense of inclusion. To this end, the city passed an ordinance in 1991 that states any new city building must set aside part of the cost for decoration, generally about 1% of the total cost of the building. The city puts out a call for artists and selects the finalist after a review of entries. Each of these pieces was funded through this ordinance.

Communities that adopt this method of funding public art promote their economy by attracting visitors, investors, and businesses. Thanks to this ordinance and Evanston’s general appreciation for art, public art installations will continue to have a positive impact on the community.

John Hammerschlag is President of Hammerschlag & Co., Inc. and is a member of IPMI’s Planning, Design, and Construction Committee. He can be reached at