"Architecture is Activism" event promotes conversation about sustainable agricultural and environmentally friendly design in Chicago


By: Christopher Hansen, Communications Intern for Chicago Studies

On Tuesday, February 19, the "Architecture is Activism: Design for Social Change" panel discussion event at the Chicago Architecture Foundation provided an opportunity for scientists, farmers, community activists, and architects to come together and discuss new ways of incorporating environmentally responsible design and agricultural sustainability. Chicago residents John Edel and Orrin Williams were two of the six featured panelists.

John Edel is the owner and developer of the Chicago Sustainable Manufacturing Center, a green business hub in the Stockyards Industrial Corridor. One component of Edel's initiative is The Plant, a 93,500 square foot meatpacking facility that Edel purchased and repurposed into a vertical farm and food business operation. For Edel, the plant is part of a broader, holistic vision for the Back of the Yards neighborhood. He said, "One-third of The Plant will hold aquaponic growing systems and the other two-thirds will incubate sustainable food businesses by offering low rent, low energy costs, and (eventually) a licensed shared kitchen. The Plant will create 125 jobs in [the area] but, remarkably, these jobs will require no fossil fuel use."

Orrin William is the Executive Director of the Center for Urban Transformation and is the Regional Lead Field Organizer for Energy Impact Illinois. A native of the South Side, Williams shared with the panel what he called the "aesthetics of oppression" through his collection of photographs of south and west side communities in Chicago. Williams argued that a community's physical landscape contributes to its residents' sense of health and vitality. He then underscored the potential for revitalization of these areas through ecologically sustainable development and encouraged the audience to apply their designs and ideas toward increasing food access and creating green jobs in these neighborhoods.

Visit the Chicago Studies' Flickr page to see photos from the event.

For more information about the panelists and their work, check out the links below:
Chicago Architecture Foundation
Chicago Sustainable Manufacturing Center
The Plant Chicago
Center for Urban Transformation
Energy Impact Illinois

Recent Comments