An Urban Agricultural Guild

Architecture UG4 Studio / Spring 2022 / Erik Herrmann

An Urban Agricultural Guild

Chicago Allotment Center 
Madison Weick

The prompt for this Senior Architecture Design Studio was to design an urban agricultural guild in Chicago. The program included 150–200,000 square feet on a half-block infill site in the River North area of Chicago and had seven components: seed bank and museum, growing and harvesting, distributing, preparing and learning to prepare, eating/sharing, knowledge building/educating, and infrastructure.

The Chicago Allotment Center is a specialized agricultural guild that focuses on providing the local Chicago community with designated areas in the city for planting, harvesting, learning, and growth. The main idea behind the Chicago Allotment Center is that the community will see this as their own entity and care for it so that the building is self-sustaining and not seen as a structure imposed upon by the city or by the architect.

Chicago residents have access to individual and communal allotments. These allotments are organized in districts, neighborhoods, and streets to promote a stronger and more diverse community identity.

The building is split into unequal thirds, designating space for the individual allotments, communal programming, and hydroponics which separate and bridge the individual and communal areas. Greenhouses are incorporated throughout the building and connect the three distinct programs. 

The floorplates mimic the inverse of typical greenhouse roofs, with the gable form being incorporated for the individual allotments and the vault form for communal programming. These shapes allow for an adequate amount of soil depth, water distribution, and grow lights to be organized throughout each harvesting level. 

The two cores provide circulation, freight elevators, restrooms, a space for shared garden tools, and a workspace on each level. These reinforce the communal focus of the building by providing a specific area for shared resources, allowing for more connections between building users to create a larger community.


Headshot of Erik Herrmann

Erik Herrmann

Assistant Professor