Tuesday, February 17, 2009

There's Gold in that there H20: Archeworks, UrbanLab win flush 2009 Latrobe Prize

In November of 2006, UrbanLab beat out a who's who of local architecture firms to win the $10,000 first prize of the Chicago leg of the History Channel's City of the Future competition, which posted the question, ""What will Chicago look like 100 years from?," UrbanLab came up with Growing Water in Chicago, which drew on the fact that the great lakes account for 20% of the world's - and 95% of the United States - fresh water, with Chicago using a billion gallons every day, only 1% of which is returned. UrbanLab's entry envisioned a "living system of eco-boulevards" - wetlands, marshes, recreation space, and Chicago's historic interlocking system of boulevards - that would treat every last drop of the region's waste/stormwater and return it to the Great Lakes Basin. Growing Water then went on to to face off other regional winners from N.Y. and L.A. Again it came out on top, another $10,000 check pocketed.

Chump change.

UrbanLab's Martin Felsen and Sarah Dunn, Director and Research Director at Archeworks, respectively, made The Water Project their inaugural project at the school as they took over the reins from founders Stanley Tigerman and Eva Maddox. According to the project description, it would . . .
. . . focus on how better to take advantage of existing infrastructure: roadways, sidewalks, alley-ways and public parks . . . which comprise more than a quarter of the land in a city such as Chicago [and] will illustrate the unrealized potential of the public way infrastructural grid, and give policy makers the validated information they require for recommending utilizing the grid to:
• Drastically reduce our reliance on non-renewable, non-local energy sources;
• Sustain water resources, and;
• Contribute to our city’s overall health, financial well-being and quality of life.

The goal of the research project is to create a metrically based predictive modeling tool to provide decision makers with the data necessary to invest in an entirely new form of infrastructure that is more financially, ecologically and socially beneficial to all.
Now they've really hit the jackpot.

It's just been announced that earlier this month Growing Energy/Water: Using the Grid to Get Off the Grid, the partnership project of UrbanLab and Archeworks, has won the $100,000 2009 Latrobe Prize from the American Institute of Architects, awarded every other year for innovative research proposals. Proceeds will go to purchasing a massive stockpile of bottled water to increase the school's chances of surviving the impending dissolution of civilization as we now know it.

Okay, what the press release actually says is, "The prize will support Archeworks' research projects and operations," but you have to admit my scenario is a lot more intriguing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

WOW. EXCITING GOOD NEWS! I am thrilled to see AIA supporting and rewarding such a creative team of Chicagoans. Kudos to UrbanLab and applause to AIA for knowing the difference between mere shine and genuine substance. I've seen this team present this project a couple times at conferences. They are the real deal and genuinely interested in making a difference, unlike a lot of the self promoters around town who complain they don't get their due. It made me very happy to see them take over ArcheWorks...former home of Chicago's most tireless self promoter of all.