Archinect
Ben Tolsky

Ben Tolsky

Chicago, IL, US

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A cleaner and redesigned Downtown Chicago, in true Chicago tradition
A cleaner and redesigned Downtown Chicago, in true Chicago tradition "Make no little plans".
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The Three Branches Dam and Richard M Daley Wetlands

To prevent the threat of Asian Carp from entering the Great Lakes eco-system it will require a three part solution that will also address three other major problems confronting the city of Chicago.  The overall goal is to create a more efficient, profitable, and environmentally friendly Chicago with an improved riverfront.

The first component of the plan is damming the South Branch of the Chicago River at the confluence of the South, North, and Main branches. This site was selected for several reasons.  First of all it will allow the city to connect its riverfront walk system downtown while expanding tourism opportunities along the Chicago River. Additionally it will force the city to immediately solve its sewage problems in the dense Downtown area and North Side of the city, while allowing the sewage problems on the less dense South and West Sides to be corrected incrementally at a financially sustainable pace.

The second component of the system will be two large wetlands to be created at the mouth of the North Branch near the Baha’i Temple in Wilmette and at the mouth of the Main Branch South of Navy Pier. These wetlands will raise the level of the North and Main Branches of the Chicago River so that they are five feet higher than average level of Lake Michigan. More importantly, the wetlands will clean the water that will fl ow from the North and Main Branches back into Lake Michigan, significantly reducing the amount of water we divert from the Great Lakes Basin. The wetlands will also function as large ecological reserves with elevated walkways to be enjoyed by Chicagoans and visitors to our city.

The third and final component will be placing one or more dams in the Lake Calumet region and creating the world’s largest landlocked intermodal port around it; while ensuring that Chicago will forever be the main hub for transportation and shipping within North America. The port will require facilities for transferring materials between barges from both sides of the dam, trains, and trucks, as well as transferring personal watercraft over the dam via land. The creation of this port will coincide with the streamlining of Chicago’s currently congested and poorly coordinated railroads.  The location on Chicago’s far South Side will divert freight operations away from the city’s center as well as providing for efficient East-West transportation across the continent.

With these proposed changes the South Branch of the Chicago River as well as the Cal-Sag Channel will maintain their current water levels. This will be controlled via the already existing Lockport Locks and, in the short-term, of the continued practice of dumping treated sewage from the South and West Sides into the river.

This proposal will focus mainly on the design of the South Branch dam, to be known as the Three Branches Dam, as well as give a basic conceptual design of the downtown wetlands, to be known as the Richard M Daley Wetlands. It is assumed that the Baha’i Temple will be involved with the design of the Wilmette wetlands, while the major freight lines in conjunction with a new port authority will design the dams and port to be created in the Lake Calumet region.

 
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Status: School Project
Location: Chicago, IL, US

 
Focusing on the Three Branches Dam, the dam finishes the city's Downtown River Walk and unites Chicago's North, South, and West Sides.
Focusing on the Three Branches Dam, the dam finishes the city's Downtown River Walk and unites Chicago's North, South, and West Sides.
The re-reversal of the Chicago River not only stops the Asian Carp from invading the Great Lakes, but also puts an end to the 2.1 billion gallons of water diverted from Lake Michigan every day.
The re-reversal of the Chicago River not only stops the Asian Carp from invading the Great Lakes, but also puts an end to the 2.1 billion gallons of water diverted from Lake Michigan every day.
The Richard M Daley Wetlands act as a living machine, filtering Chicago's river water and delivering clean water to the lake. The wetlands also double as a large nature reserve, allowing citizens and tourists to escape the noise and action of the city and retreat to this new urban oasis.
The Richard M Daley Wetlands act as a living machine, filtering Chicago's river water and delivering clean water to the lake. The wetlands also double as a large nature reserve, allowing citizens and tourists to escape the noise and action of the city and retreat to this new urban oasis.
The Chicago River in section. With the new dams and wetlands in place, the Main and North Branches are raised to a water level over five feet above average Lake Michigan water levels.
The Chicago River in section. With the new dams and wetlands in place, the Main and North Branches are raised to a water level over five feet above average Lake Michigan water levels.
The dam in plan, interior spaces.
The dam in plan, interior spaces.
The dam in plan, exterior spaces.
The dam in plan, exterior spaces.
The gentle slope of the dam's roof allows for the sun to shine over all the outdoor spaces all year long.
The gentle slope of the dam's roof allows for the sun to shine over all the outdoor spaces all year long.
The dam in section, exposing the folding structure.
The dam in section, exposing the folding structure.
The evolution of the dam, from experimental to final designs
The evolution of the dam, from experimental to final designs
The dam in context, view from the North.
The dam in context, view from the North.
The dam in context, view from the South.
The dam in context, view from the South.
A larger model of the dam.
A larger model of the dam.
Testig the sturcture, a dynamic model of the dam's folding system.
Testig the sturcture, a dynamic model of the dam's folding system.
Testig the sturcture, a dynamic model of the dam's folding system.
Testig the sturcture, a dynamic model of the dam's folding system.
Testig the sturcture, a dynamic model of the dam's folding system.
Testig the sturcture, a dynamic model of the dam's folding system.
Testig the sturcture, a dynamic model of the dam's folding system.
Testig the sturcture, a dynamic model of the dam's folding system.
From above the West Loop, the action of Chicago's new river cruise and water taxi port is clearly visible.
From above the West Loop, the action of Chicago's new river cruise and water taxi port is clearly visible.
Visible from the passing L trains, the dam not only creates a physical barrier, but reinforces this idea with a vertical Southern facade.
Visible from the passing L trains, the dam not only creates a physical barrier, but reinforces this idea with a vertical Southern facade.
From the Franklin Street Bridge, the dam gradually rises out of the river.
From the Franklin Street Bridge, the dam gradually rises out of the river.
From the docks, the dam's gentle curves create an inviting destination amongst Chicago's concrete jungle.
From the docks, the dam's gentle curves create an inviting destination amongst Chicago's concrete jungle.
The sun always shines on the dams Northern edge where Chicago's newest beach is located.
The sun always shines on the dams Northern edge where Chicago's newest beach is located.
Along the Southern edge of the dam, the vertical walls reinforce the separation of the South Branch of the Chicago River.
Along the Southern edge of the dam, the vertical walls reinforce the separation of the South Branch of the Chicago River.
On top of the dam a series of steps becomes Chicago's newest hang out destination, with unobstructed views of the Chicago's skyline along the river.
On top of the dam a series of steps becomes Chicago's newest hang out destination, with unobstructed views of the Chicago's skyline along the river.
With hot dog places and ice cream parlors inside, the dam features some of Chicago's favorite foods.
With hot dog places and ice cream parlors inside, the dam features some of Chicago's favorite foods.
With plenty of natural daylight pouring in, the cafe becomes an excelent place to meet with friends.
With plenty of natural daylight pouring in, the cafe becomes an excelent place to meet with friends.
From the interior you can experience the dam's unique folding sturcture visible in it's undulating cieling.
From the interior you can experience the dam's unique folding sturcture visible in it's undulating cieling.
In the center of the dam is a living machine, filtering the waste water from the dam's restaurant. Allowing visitors to see a microcosm of the new wetlands and learn how they work.
In the center of the dam is a living machine, filtering the waste water from the dam's restaurant. Allowing visitors to see a microcosm of the new wetlands and learn how they work.
A new image for the city of Chicago
A new image for the city of Chicago

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