Almost every new build these days incorporates multiple ‘green’ elements as the need to protect our environment grows stronger day by day. HOK has infused green strategies into Chicago’s new Greenway Self-Park facility.

The 11 story energy efficient parking garage features a naturally ventilated exterior wall, a cistern rain water collection system, a green roof, and electric car plug-in stations and a dozen wind turbines made by Helix Wind that attach to the external structure.  A way-finding system has also been implemented at each elevator lobby to educate Chicagoans on how to live more sustainably and better protect the environment.

The vertical turbines are located on the southwest corner of the garage are designed to take advantage of Chicago’s summer winds.  The turbines will harvest the wind to power the exterior wall lighting of the facility, as well as contribute excess power to the city grid.

The green roof not only adds to the aesthetics, but also filters pollutants, reduces stormwater runoff, heating and cooling. The unique glazed screen is comprised of a visually layered fabric of breathable glass channels that progressively reveals the inner concrete super-structure of the building. The screen with a naturally ventilated external wall eliminates the requirement of a mechanical system. This structure, which is the first of its kind in Chicago, is currently pursuing LEED Certification.

IMHO: This is a great example of how green technologies can be made visible but overall the project lacking in aesthetic appeal. Could the design of the wind turbines look different if an artist was involved in the project? Artists like Buster Simpson have been creating interesting artistic interventions to demonstrate green processes for years. Do you know of an artist who is working with wind? Send me an email at greenpublicart[at]gmail[dot]com with the artist’s name and project.

Source: World Architecture News, Arch Daily. Images © John Picken