Archives For adaptive reuse

The Sustainable Model for Tomorrow’s City Starts with the Post Industrial City

Over the past half century, our western cities that emerged from the industrial revolution have grown into dense nodes of interconnections. The premise of spatial connectivity that inspired these cities has facilitated a consolidation of old urban cores into larger ecologies of interaction that provide reciprocal benefit to their participants.

Whereas the western metropolis has evolved through the idea of a larger city, it could be our smaller, post industrial cities that will serve as candidates for the next iteration of the cityscape. Armed with new mechanisms for access and mobility, our current technological reality brings opportunities to reconnect to a class of smaller, under-utilized cities and activate existing landscapes that were previously deemed inaccessible.  The adaptive reuse and re-programming of these existing and largely-forgotten downtowns will offer the ability to unlock a new sustainable city model in a return to the idea of dispersed urbanity. Continue Reading…

Industrial Urban Farm

Plant Chicago, NFP/Rachel Swenie

Here in the U.S. we have no shortage of unused industrial space. In cities across the country there are blocks of old warehouses laying dormant and forgotten. While some find second lives being renovated into hip residential lofts, many of these buildings have a hard time being fashioned with new uses. The manufacturing industry has not exactly rebounded in America and conversion into retail space can be complicated for buildings too far away from active streetscapes. For most of these icons of a former era, the easiest option is vacancy which levels double the weight on a commodity filled with latent energy that was once so useful. Not only are empty buildings a waste, but foregoing maintenance for long enough eventually degrades the components of the building to the point where it truly is unusable.

In Chicago’s West side, a group of entrepreneurs saw one such building as an opportunity and fashioned a multi-faceted program mix to utilize old warehouse space and create  a complex that will be energy-neutral, waste negative and resource positive. Dubbed “The Plant” the facility that is currently in the construction/renovation stage includes multiple parts revolving around food production that create an interconnected system of reflexive benefit (what some could call an Industrial Ecology). According to the owners, when the facility is complete it should be producing food, fish, beer and tea all as part of an on-site ecological system. Continue Reading…