Whatever the merits of the building, the PR effort behind it has been sensational. Adoring profiles of HOK's Greenway Self Park, in Chicago's River North have been everywhere, even taking in even my good friend Edward Lifson. When he featured it on his Hello Beautiful! blog - on Earth Day - he speculated it might be "The best new corner in Chicago . . ."
Last month's Fast Company article, Windy City's Gusts Supply Power to Stylish Turbines, seemed to be more of the same. Until I got to this paragraph:
Greenway’s turbines were made by Helix Wind, though the initial plan was to use Aerotecture, a Chicago-based solar and wind energy company. But after studying the wind patterns near the garage, the company decided the site was too “low power,” says Bil Becker, Aerotecture CEO. To avoid making himself--and the burgeoning wind-power industry--look bad, they withdrew from the project. “They’ll try to [force] you into building a sculpture, he says, “but we don’t make sculptures.”
Which pretty much sums it up. The Greenway Self Park is a triumph of greenwashing, of style over substance. I apologize to Aerotek: I originally gave them credit for the turbines - at that point I was believing what the press releases were saying, as well - and I admire them for having the guts to decline to participate and to go on record about it.
If you want all the grisly details on this not-so-good-as-it-first-seems structure, check out my article here.
How could anyone consider an 11 story lump bringing over 700+ gas-guzzling, carbon-spewing cars into the center of the city sustainable? The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind. Just don't expect that wind - or all the PR spin - to turn the pretty turbines very often.