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Tallest Building in the U.S. Becomes Solar Farm

Category: sustainability+urbanism+⚐ EN

When people get to talking about the greenest city in the U.S., they’re usually referring to Portland, Oregon, which boasts an exceptionally, historically environmentally conscious, pro-active citizenship. Chicago, with its famous theater, symphony, and Navy Pier bi-weekly summer firework displays,  is usually acknowledged for its art and music.

However, Chicago deserves more recognition for its architecture, which has, in recent years, boasted some of the greenest (and I mean this quite literally) initiatives in the country. Like many U.S. city Mayors, Richard M. Daley announced his intention to make Chicago the greenest city in America. He began this transformation by transforming the Chicago City Hall rooftop into a green garden. Other Chicago dwellers followed suit, greening up businesses and homes with vertical and rooftop gardens.By 2009, Chicago was the city with the most LEED certified buildings in the country.

This week though,  we’ve learned that Chicago is taking its environmentally friendly architectural history one step further. The Willis Tower, formally known as the sears center, will be adding a vertical solar farm on the 56th floor.

The Willis tower is tall – really tall. In fact this ¨planting¨ means there will soon be a vertical solar farm on the tallest building in America!

While Chicago is definitely not the most environmentally conscious city in America, as it lacks the extent of aggressive sustainable development policies and pro-active citizen initiatives that Portland owns, Chicago’s leadership in promoting ¨green¨ architecture is really something special.

Chicago is the city of the arts – it’s a visual city. Adorning the tallest building in the country with solar panels represents and promotes sustainable development  as a partner of the American city.

The 1.3 million tourists who come to gape at the willis building each year will now have a bit greener of an image of what 21st century urbanism can be. I propose the addition of a vertical  garden next…

(Vertical garden at Caixa Forum, Madrid)