I was honored to attend the Sustainable Cities Design Academy this past Monday to Wednesday at the American Architecture Foundation. With sponsorship from UTC, the AAF brought 12 sustainability, design and development practitioners from around the country to apply their knowledge to four city scale projects in various stages of development. Each project had four representative on hand who worked with a resource team on their respective projects. The resource members and project teams each gave a Pecha Kucha style presentation about themselves and their work and then we broke off for a day and a half of brainstorming and on the spot design. Aside from being a great way to advance challenging projects, this was an exciting and educational opportunity for all attendees to meet and learn about others advancing the field of sustainable building.
I was assigned to a fascinating adaptive reuse project from Minneapolis with a great team headed by David Frank of Schafer Richardson Inc. and a fantastic fellow resource member, Phil Esocoff FAIA of Esocoff and Associates. The site we worked on is a former grain mill located 5 minutes from downtown Minneapolis. It has an existing water tunnel in the basement formerly used to provide the mill with mechanical power. A few quick calculations revealed it could produce 20-40% of the sites total power. The team spent a lot of time discussing possible ways to reuse about 25 100′ tall, 25′ dia, circular concrete grain elevators. Possibilities included everything from adaptive reuse apartments to water storage and stack effect conditioners.
What do you think? How can they be reused? Should they be saved or are they an imposing barrier to community integration? More about the mills can be found here, and the white grain elevators can be seen here.