Down On Eco-Boulevard

To promote its Engineering an Empire series, the History Channel "recently gave select architects in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles seven days to come up with a design for their city 100 years from now, something that "like the marvels of past civilizations, would have the staying power to endure for centuries to come."" The response from UrbanLab, is nothing short of astounding. Olmsted would be stunned. These designers are so far out of the Loop someone may have to remind them where it is. But that's what makes their submission marvelous. To fully understand the proposal -- called Growing Water: Chicago in 2106 -- it helps to have lived in the Chicago metro area or have studied its development. You can get a pretty good idea of the depth and elegance by reading the detailed coverage given it in The Chicago Reader. See below for an excerpt from the excellent Reader story! As for Toronto's green plan, dream on. The 'City of Big Shoulders' and Green River does green design with panache.The design would have the city "switch over to a decentralized all-natural water treatment and recycling system that would double the city's parkland. [See Living Designs Group site, here, for details on the "living machine" approach.] A series of 50 "eco-boulevards" spaced every half mile from Rogers Park to Roseland would run east-west from Lake Michigan to the subcontinental divide between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins at about Harlem Avenue—thin green ribbons running across the city that would replace pavement with green space, greenhouses, and wetland for the treatment of waste and storm water.

Each eco-boulevard would jut out into Lake Michigan and end in a man-made peninsula to accommodate solar arrays, wind turbines, and geothermal wells to power the treatment processes. "Terminal Parks" would mark the eco-boulevard's western extremes. These large green spaces would be surrounded by residential and work complexes to accommodate returnees from the outer suburbs, who by 2106 will have moved back closer to town to obtain running water.

That's right: Felsen and Dunn are among those who see a future in which freshwater is "the new oil" and the Great Lakes region—already the third-largest economy in the world—could be the new Saudi Arabia; the Great Lakes contain 20 percent of the earth's freshwater. As water becomes an expensive commodity, sprawl may become un-affordable, if not illegal: suburban households west of the Great Lakes drainage basin will have to sink deeper and deeper wells to reach groundwater as it's depleted."

Image credit: UrbanLabs. Order full color 64 page bound illustrations of Growing Water here. Via::Chicago Reader

Tags: Chicago | Illinois

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