Problems & Solutions
The Center for Permaculture and Appropriate Technology (CPAT) is a place that showcases how a balance among (1) healthy food choices, (2) stormwater management, (3) low-pollution transportation systems with supportive jobs, and (4) renewable energy sources can be embedded in the Near West Side community area. Teaching, learning, and job training programs are integral to all work at CPAT.
The activities at CPAT are designed to build on the local economy by providing a marketplace where exchanges happen in a closed, local loop. CPAT equips the neighborhood with the knowledge and resources needed to live resiliently and encourages a community-scaled, closed loop economy less impacted by regional and global fluctuations. Programs like Local Bucks (see Eau Claire and Greencastle) ensure dollars stay local, and Really, Really Free Markets (see Toronto and NYC) encourage product life-cycle awareness, interdependence with neighbors, and community interactions.
The site becomes a campus of learning and working, and is the antithesis to a massive building that could have been built within the constraints of the Living Building imperatives. Crisscrossing footpaths break up the large street grid to create a human-scaled site that offers intrigue, and improves human well-being through stress relief as shown in Landscape Psychology. Paths are also a direct Biomimicry technique to create Land Mosaics that increase habitat types and species variation to an urban area, therefore providing opportunities for nature access, education and economic development.
As a Living Building, CPAT is a restorative organism. At the center is an anaerobic digester, CPAT’s stomach. Its fuel is waste, and its product is education, food, and support for the local economy. The more waste the digester receives, the more energy it generates.
Chicago is the freight hub of the nation for rail and trucking, and, as such, has high levels of air and noise pollution. CPAT transforms the surface parking lot into a Living Building at a location very accessible to people biking or walking because it is served by several transit routes, the street grid, and streets with bike lanes. The center will actively discourage deliveries trucked-in from the adjacent highway while the café and grocery store will prefer goods created locally and delivered by bicycle.
On site, workers will use cargo trikes to transfer goods. The site will redesign adjacent intersections, adding bike lanes, reducing automobile speeds, and increasing pedestrian safety. New public pathways crisscross the site, adding new walking destinations and routes in the neighborhood. CPAT will house an extension of West Town Bikes, a community learning bike shop in Humboldt Park where people are able to build and repair their own bicycles, take building and repairing classes, and teach other people about the mechanics of bicycling.
A bygone of heavy driving in Chicago is found underground on the site. The site was home to a gas station, whose underground storage tank is likely still buried (according to a City of Chicago government database). The database indicates that there may be multiple underground storage tanks.
There is a CTA line that runs through the site, but not new station is proposed for this site, however a future transit site would be about a quarter of a mile north. This station would serve for the United Center and to create more development, the future proposed CTA station just north of the site can be seen here in the map below.
Read about the other focus areas: