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Winners of "The Rust Belt" Contest Offer Ideas for a 107-Acre Former Factory Site

Across industrial North America, many small working class cities are faced with a plethora of abandoned property due to the downfall of the automotive industry. The prolific ruins of the largest abandoned factory in North America, Detroit's Packard Motor Plant, have served as an emblem for dozens of similar plants dotting the landscapes of cities across the continent. In 2010, shortly after the beginning of the global economic crisis, Chrysler closed a sprawling engine factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The factory has since been demolished and is now at the beginning of a five-year cleanup. Located adjacent to a densely populated suburban development, the 107-acre property begs the question: what can be done with such a massive piece of land?

In response to Kenosha's Chrysler problem, a team of urbanists, architects and researchers known as Urban Design for Everyone (UD4U) launched a global competition to reinvigorate the former industrial property. Proposals had to take the adjacent neighborhoods into consideration, with the ultimate goal of bridging gaps between disparate communities at opposite ends of the property. The winning proposals range widely from a stylized village of housing, to the creation of enormous urban farms, to the construction of an innovation park featuring a series of vast artificial lakes. After receiving 43 entries from 17 countries, a jury of local architects selected three exceptional proposals and five honorable mentions. Find out what the teams proposed after the break.

Video: design/buildLAB's Reality Check

The design/buildLAB at the Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design has recently released a new documentary by Leon Gerskovic titled Reality Check, a film that chronicles the journey of 16 students as they undergo the design and construction of their Masonic Amphitheatre in Clifton Forge, Virginia. The project was a complete redevelopment of a post-industrial brownfield into a public park and performance space; the video relates how students collaborated with local community and industry experts to bring meaningful architecture to this struggling American rail town. 

Shigeru Ban's Cardboard Cathedral Underway in New Zealand

Courtesy of Christchurch City Libraries' Flickr
Courtesy of Christchurch City Libraries' Flickr

Shigeru Ban just can’t get enough of paper tubes. The Japanese architect, renowned for his design of structures that can be quickly and inexpensively erected in disaster zones, is at it again in the city of ChristchurchNew Zealand, which was hit hard by a devastating earthquake last February. The earthquake of magnitude 6.3 killed over 200 people and inflicted irreparable damage on the city’s iconic gothic cathedral of 132 years. The cathedral was a copy of one in Oxford, England, and was one of the most famous landmarks of the Christchurch, pictured on postcards, souvenirs and tea towels.

A pioneer in so-called “emergency architecture,” Shigeru Ban has begun construction on a highly anticipated, unique replacement: a simple A-frame structure composed of paper tubes of equal length and 20 foot containers. The tubes will be coated with waterproof polyurethane and flame retardants that the architect has been developing since 1986 - years before environmental friendliness and the use of inexpensive recycled materials were even a concern in architecture.

Read more about Ban's visionary Cardboard Cathedral after the break...

Chicago's Cook County Aims to Eradicate Demolition Waste

Image via Cook County
Image via Cook County

Cook County, Illinois, recently brought the elimination of construction waste to a new level by creating the first demolition debris ordinance in the Midwest. This groundbreaking ordinance requires most of the debris created from demolition to be recycled and reused instead of being sent to the landfill. The ordinance helps contribute to Cook County’s zero waste goal, part of the Solid Waste Plan Update.

The new law states that at least 7 percent of suburban construction and demolition debris must be recycled, and an additional 5 percent must be reused on residential properties. This new legislation will have a great impact as it affects about 2.5 million suburban Cook County residents.

More after the break...