In 1918, the U.S. Army built three warehouses on West Pershing Road, Chicago, IL. At that time, they were the largest concrete structures in the world. These massive buildings contain over half a million square feet each and two of them have been inactive for the past 25 years. The C40 Reinventing the Cities competition chose these warehouses as one of its two Chicago sites. The site is conveniently located 25 minutes from downtown Chicago. A bus stop at the corner facilitates the work commute around the Chicago metro area. Midway International Airport is only 18 minutes away by car.
The goal of this project was to develop carbon-neutral sustainable adaptable and resilient mixed-use building for the retrofit of one of these large warehouse blocks. The project needed to develop, design and evaluate a performance strategy focusing in particular on building performance evaluation and life-cycle analysis through computational methods.
The 1769 West Pershing road warehouse building converted into Aspire Community has six floors, a total area of 506,418 SF, and a loading capacity of 300 Lb/SF thanks to its 12” thick floor plates of reinforced concrete. A column grid of 18’ by 18’ dominates the warehouse structure, and its exterior wall with brick cladding has a thickness of 12 inches.
‘Aspire Community’ will empower its residents and its community by creating gathering spaces to interact and by supporting local businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs. The location of Aspire is ideal for those that commute to work. Having a bus stop right at the corner makes it easier to access either form of transportation. The residents at Aspire that need to work Downtown Chicago, are less than 30 min away by bus and the orange line. The program’s focus on local businesses, education, and wellness will give the community a sense of belonging and will build resilience. This building’s design maximizes daylight and natural ventilation, produces 58% renewable energy on-site through solar panels, caters 40% of water requirement by stormwater management, and uses recycled materials from the old building for 85% of landscape construction on the site. Other environmentally friendly strategies implemented are heat pumps and recycled concrete as insulation material.
The building has three major programs: Community - The community center, located at the North entrance, primarily focused on education, invites the surrounding community to interact through its different activities like learning centers for computing and workshops for manual skills, libraries, fitness center, and assembly spaces. Commercial - The indoor street mall fulfills the current retail gap providing local neighborhood stores and eateries while the Communal Workspace invites the enthusiasm of Chicago’s thriving entrepreneurs. Thus, the ‘Aspire Community’ will not only enhance walkability in the area and add eyes on the street addressing the current safety issues but also will empower the community by providing job opportunities for the surrounding population. Residential – Total 180 residential units (24 duplex, 9 2BHK 9, 22 1BHK, and 53 studios) in the apartment mainly target the young professionals and new families. Hence, Aspire Community will definitely grow the population of the Greater Stockyard area by offering a higher-quality yet more affordable lifestyle compared to living expenses in Downtown Chicago.
Design for Integration:
Chicago’s extreme weather conditions of hot summers and cold winters allow only 38% of the year to be thermally comfort using passive design strategies. The design for Aspire Community focuses on natural ventilation and sunlight exposure. The newly constructed residential apartment wings utilize single-loaded corridors for natural ventilation and areas enclosed with high-performance SIP panel walls with an R-value of 50. The whole building has a daylight factor of 4%. On-site, Solar PV electric has installed a total of 100,000 SF. They power the heat pump system that is the active HVAC for the building.
Design for Ecology:
Aspire is situated in an industrial zone with little green areas. We are creating a total of 25,840 SF of green spaces, and 71% of those are open for public use by the community. Moreover, they are also used as stormwater catchment areas. Our canopy of solar panels located over the southern parking lot offers Aspire visitors shading for their vehicles as well as a free electric charging station. Besides, most of the landscape is made with recycling materials from the original building, like glass pebbles, and gabions filled with recycled concrete from the removed floor plates.
Design for Water:
The water consumption of the residential, commercial, and community spaces is over 4 million gallons per year. 46% of those are used for flushing low flow toilets. They will be fed by a stormwater collection system. Using the roof areas of the building in addition to the green exterior and interior areas, Aspire provides a total of 95,762 SF rainwater catchment area that allows for the harvest of 1.6 million gallons of water per year. Stored in 17 stormwater containers located in the basement provides 87% to flush toilets.
Design for Energy:
To reduce the amount of energy needed for the building, solar heat gain during winter, natural ventilation during summer, and night cooling ventilation are the major passive strategies used. Aspire community produces 3 million kWh/yr solar electricity on site. Moreover, of the 5.2 million kWh consumed per year, more than 90% comes from renewable energies, and less than 10% is natural gas. Thus Aspire community is carbon neutral. Furthermore, the EUI of the building is 0, making it a net-zero building.
Design for Resources:
This massive building had endured a lot of damage while it was inactive. The concept for Aspire preserves over 74% of the original building and recycles as much as possible of its materials. Most of the recycle concrete from floorplates and columns will fill the gabions in the residential courtyard and the exterior landscape. The existing windows arere removed and turned into glass pebbles for landscaping, and part of the removed brick of the exterior façade was used for landscaping as well. The building carbon emissions were reduced by 5.9 KlbCO2e metric tons.
Paloma Chapman, Wunghee Lee