Research Study; Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, like many other major cities in the U.S., hosts numerous abandoned warehouse buildings begging for an adaptive reuse. Vertical farming can contribute to solving that problem, as well as solving an ongoing and increasing concern about our nation's food supply, such as shortages, agrochemicals used, location grown, and freshness. Vertical farming is the concept of growing agricultural produce in an urban area within an enclosed multi-story structure with a controlled environment for year-round food supply. This allows the produce to be grown in as close proximity to as many end-user inhabitants as possible.
Vertical farming can eliminate external natural processes as confounding elements in the production of food, such as flood or drought, since crops will be grown indoors under carefully selected and well-monitored conditions. This will also insure an optimal year-round growth rate for each species of plant. Growing food close to its end source will significantly lower the amount of fossil fuels needed to deliver them to the consumer, and will eliminate the need for fossil fuels during the act of farming (plowing, applying fertilizer, seeding, weeding, harvesting).
The adaptive reuse of this 250,000 s.f., 100 year old masonry warehouse also incorporates a 120,000 s.f. addition constructed of a cable-braced steel structure clad with a curtain wall glazing system. The programmatic elements include a new open atrium, offices, live/work mixed-income apartments for employees, activity-fitness room, research areas, seedling staging, and growing areas using hydroponics and aquaponics technologies. A new restaurant, kitchen, and roof terrace are also incorporated in the modern addition. The energy required to operate a vertical farm facility can and should be self-sustaining using geothermal, water/wind turbines, solar panels, greywater collection/ cleaning, and anaerobic digesters for converting biomass and other organic waste into energy.