WASTELAND

Type Urban analysis, landscape design   

Location Chicago IL 

Design Conor O'Shea, Chris Bennett, Aneesha Dharwadker, and Michael O'Shea

Exhibition 50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards

Date 2016

Does Chicago's ward system still make sense as a civic organizing device? What if we governed ourselves based on resource management, rather than political management?

“Wasteland” aligns Chicago’s political boundaries with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s intercepting sewer basins in order to encourage development.

Seven basins replace the 50 ward system, each one led by a new elected official. Each basin is anchored by an existing wastewater reclamation plant which repurposes waste to generate new economic activity. This new model for 21st century biosolid-driven urbanism hybridizes development through new manufactured landscapes in areas of the region where job loss, pollution, and industrial decay persist.

Chicago’s 9th Ward, where the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s second largest Wastewater Reclamation Plant sits side by side with former factory town of Pullman, is poised for redevelopment and an exciting test site for this strategy.

Photographs: Conor O'Shea 

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