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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

The Solar Spiral in Chicago, Illinois by ShortList_0 Design Group (designed using Maya and Revit)

April 21st, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

A new approach to sustainable design for mixed use. With suspension of work on the Chicago Spire, Lakeshore Drive’s new icon, the Chicago Architectural Club postulated “the bursting of the real estate bubble has left many architects without work, and a number of building sites within the city sit incomplete or abandoned.

Solar Spiral SW Perspective

  • Architects: ShortList_0 Design Group LLC
  • Project: The Solar Spiral
  • Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA
  • Designer: Bill Caplan, 2010
  • Surface Area: approximately 92,000 sf
  • Software used: Revit and Maya

Community Auditorium and Conference Rooms

  • Program:   Mixed Use solar power plant and community facility
  • Space Allocation (7 levels + 3 sublevels): 35,500 sf community facility; 5,800 sf power plant
  • Roof Garden and Spiral Skywalk: 41,000 sf
  • Parking: 75 cars
  • Primary Sustainable Design Technology: Building Integrated PV Solar Panels
  • Output Capability: 1 Megawatt

Ground Floor: Street level community space

Yet there is opportunity in this collapse.  Despite the apparent desperation of the moment, we detect a newfound freedom for architects to speculate, to propose, to instigate and to agitate for a different city…” ; “to explore new idioms for site development in Chicago and perhaps other urban areas – a solution not merely for this site, but one with some applicability to other sites in similar predicament.”

Entrance: Street level entrance, view corridor and parking

The Solar Spiral proposal responds to this challenge with a new architectural idiom for sustainable design, a concept for urban infill sites with vertical southern exposure – integrating substantial clean, quiet, low cost solar power generation with public or commercial mixed-use.  For this particular site, more than a Megawatt of power is available from 5000+ solar panels.  The Solar Spiral is both power plant and community facility with performance, conference and exhibition space.  On other sites, configurations might include residential and commercial, each with its unique PV paneled skyline sculpture – mixing community, commercial and private use with non-invasive power production, a uniquely urban solution.

Roof Garden: Roof garden with public access

The Solar Spiral emerges from the existing 86ft diameter excavation with power plant control and mechanicals on the lowest sublevels.  Community auditorium and conference rooms situated on Sublevel 1 open to the ground floor with an overlooking street level gallery.  Exhibition, conference and reception space occupy the street level, from which the Solar Spiral wraps around the auditorium gallery.

Interior view from Roof Garden

The spiral’s south facing skin integrates frameless PV solar panels, half of the total array.  Its Spiral Walk ramp offers fabulous city and lake views from glassed-in lookouts, also accessible by elevator. A street level solar field screens convenient onsite parking from the overlooking neighborhood towers.  The low profile community facility, street level view corridor under Lake Shore Drive, roof garden and significant daylight portals, combine non-invasive power production with sustainable and neighbor-friendly design.

Spiral Skywalk


Plan - Sublevel 1: Auditorium and conference rooms

Plan - Roof Garden Level

Plan - Street Level: spiral walkway, solar panels and view panes

Contact ShortList_0 Design Group LLC

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Categories: Community Centre, Maya, Revit, Solar Panel Factory, Sustainable Design

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