ALAR 8995: Uncovering Process: the place, production, and reuse of ford city, Chicago
The site of Albert Kahn’s heroic Dodge Chicago Plant is the remnant of a once thriving city for work that has recently been underused and overlooked. Built in 1942 and covering over 400 acres, the plant was designed specifically for the fabrication and assembly of Wright Cyclone radial engines. The comprehensive program of this facility contained 33,000 workers who helped to transform raw pig iron into one of the world’s most complex machines.
The twofold nature of the site as a heroic landmark and place for work has been largely forgotten and demands a comprehensive and relevant reuse of the site comparable to the scale of Albert Kahn’s original factory. I propose a three-part reuse of the site focusing on a large-scale wind turbine manufacturing plant, public park, and technical community college. Each piece of the program is intended to have a distinct role in the uncovering of the site at the scale of city (economy), building (reuse), and person (vocation).
The combination of specific site and program prompted a series research questions to be explored through design. How can this specific site of industrial production be more open to the general public through exploration and interpretation? How can this specific site and architecture be reused as a relevant model for the future of Chicago’s clean technology goals? More importantly, what opportunities or spatial articulation arise when the goals of public engagement and new industrial production begin to overlap?