2004 Competition Entry
Richard Yoo, ChungYeon Won
The Ford Calumet Environmental Center was an international competition held in January of 2004. The site is located in south of Chicago where the complex history has resulted in a unique juxtaposition of industry and ecology amidst historic communities. Based on the provided project goals the design process was mainly focused on site and climate interaction and technical consideration for innovative building system for sustainability.
Hegewisch Marsh, the future home of the Environmental Center, is one of many open space parcels in the Calumet region. Continuous human settlement in the Calumet region greatly altered the landscape and affected the environment. Beginning in the 1870s, the original system of sloughs, creeks and wetlands dredged, dammed and channeled into what is now the Calumet River. Much of the area’s open space was crisscrossed with railroads and streets, which facilitated the settlement of people and industries. Precious wetlands were permanently lost to landfills and large amounts of foreign materials were introduced to the land. Despite the many years of urbanization, plant and animal communities have maintained a presence in the fragments. Many of the remaining wetlands were inadvertently preserved by industrial firms and landfill operators who purchased large parcels of land for future expansion. The mere existence of these remnant natural areas ought to dispel the notion that industrial development conflicts with the environment.