For the birds

Sharon McHugh
Sunday 17 May 2009

LEED Platinum Environmental Center takes form

The City of Chicago and the State of Illinois partnered to develop a new environmental center in the Calumet area of South Chicago, a large industrial region populated with steel and coke factories and a marsh. Studio Gang’s competition winning design creates a green oasis within the superfund site where the public can go to learn about the site’s industrial past and its eventual transformation into a destination for eco-tourism.

The 27,000 sq ft learning center houses classrooms, exhibition areas, labs, offices and an auditorium and is connected to outdoor nature trails and gathering spaces on a 130-acre site. It is designed with minimal site and environmental impact. Like a "nest" the materials have been collected from things abundant, nearby and discarded. The project will be built of salvaged steel from the Calumet region and other discarded recyclable materials such as slag and wood from salvaged trees. A deep south porch provides shade and is enclosed with a basket-like mesh of salvaged steel to prevent migratory birds from colliding with the glass facade.

The building’s green features include geothermal heat pumps, earth tubes, a bio-mass boiler, wind turbines and water collection systems.

Construction is expected to begin in November 2009 with completion slated for Spring 2011.

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United States

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