Student(s): Nadia Yablonskaya
Instructor(s): Katherine Bennett
Course: LARCH 7950: Design Studio V
Term: Spring 2015

High density build-up of historic cities demands a new space with public domains integrated into existing city structure. Industrial heritage of many Midwest cities makes transformation and rehabilitation of post-industrial areas a critical topic. Chicago plays a central role in American economic, social, cultural and political history and since the 1850s has been the dominant Midwest industrial metropolis. Only two decades ago, Chicago was famously a steel mill town. Now, only one last vestige of the steel industry remains within the city downtown. Finkl & Sons mill has been pouring steel for over a hundred years and now the steel mill is about to be demolished creating the site for the new urban development. Downtown location and juxtaposition with Lincoln Park’s highly expensive residential district makes redevelopment of this site of paramount importance for Chicago spatial and functional structure.

For many years Chicago River was the main transportation arteria for Chicago industries. Finkl & Sons mill is a part of Chicago North Branch Industrial Corridor that is situated on both sides of the Chicago River, thus physically and culturally disconnecting the neighborhoods and isolating the river from the city landscape. Moreover, after river reverse in 1900 Chicago River turned into a man-made canal that connected the Great Lakes system and Mississippi basin. Over time Chicago River became an invasive species superhighway that creates treat for the unique ecology of the Great Lake system. The hydrological separation of Chicago River is provocative but the most effective way to prevent Asian carp and other invasive species from destroying the Great Lakes.

This design project aim dual objective. The first is to create economically resilient, attractive and responsive “produced landscape” that reflects cultural background of the city and satisfies the idea of flexible, not highly programmed site for an urban resident. The second is to use the structure of Asian carp hydrological barrier to create cultural and physical connectivity between neighborhoods on east and west banks of the River, and provide access to the Chicago River which will be appreciated as a part of new urban landscape.