Eye on Evanston: Thoughts on Design | Jim Gamble: A founding member of Design Evanston

In 1980, Design Evanston came into being when a group of designers working or living in Evanston started to meet regularly to discuss how, as professionals, they could assist in maintaining quality design in Evanston, particularly in the downtown area which was undergoing a surge of new building.

Jim Gamble. Credit: Alison C. Gamble

Among that original group of concerned professionals who became the founders of Design Evanston was Jim Gamble.

Jim came to Evanston in 1972 after graduating from the Landscape Architecture program of the University of Michigan in 1968 and working four years as a landscape architect in Ohio. His arrival in our town began his long association with our city, continuing to this day, as a resident, designer, planner and active advocate for good public area design in Evanston.

Jim’s first professional position in Evanston was with the distinguished firm of Barton-Aschman Associates, where he gained experience in planning and urban streetscape design, working with Charles Mosher, another talented landscape architect, and Jim Bates, who led the firm’s civil engineering practice.

Jim worked on projects throughout the country, including a major planned use development and streetscape project at Cedar Riverside in Minneapolis. Additionally, he worked on other firm projects. including streetscapes, parks and urban design assignments throughout the country, many with mass transit functions. In small to midsize communities such as Burlington, Iowa; Rock Island, Illinois; Marquette, Michigan; St. Joseph, Michigan; and Council Bluffs, Iowa, central business district revitalization was the focus of the projects. Larger projects in Evanston; Houston; Spokane, Washington; and Seattle included significant mass transit facilities for bus service and, in some locations, light rail transit.

In 1983, Jim moved to another major planning and design firm in Evanston, Teska Associates. There he served as vice president of design before, in 1986, moving on to open Land Design Collaborative, a partnership with prominent Illinois landscape architect Robert Zolomij.

Together, the partners’ commissions were concentrated in Evanston and the Midwest. Some projects, especially the firm’s zoological garden designs, were implemented nationwide. The range of the firm’s work included urban design, park and campus master planning, multiunit residential land planning, playground design, urban design including plazas and gateways, bikeways, and wayfinding for secondary pedestrian circulation systems.

Working together, Jim and his partner played a significant role in bringing about the Illinois Landscape Architecture Licensing Act in 1989. Jim also served on the Illinois Landscape Architecture Registration Board, and both partners served terms as president of the Illinois Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

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