Hole in The Ground

So what would you do with a 76 foot deep circular hole in the ground situated at 400 N. Lake Shore Drive near the Chicago River?Chicago Spire HoleIntended as the site for a huge spiraling tower of apartments called the Chicago Spire (designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava).  It would have been the second tallest building in the world at the time of it’s intended completion and the tallest building in the western world.  The only part of the project that was actually completed was the foundations, consisting of the already mentioned hole in the ground.  Unfortunately financial problems, aided by the global financial crisis (but then again, what isn’t blamed in the global financial crisis!) over took the project and it was abandoned. The image below is an impression of what the Spire would have looked like; above is a photo of the current site, which has been abandoned since 2008.Calatrava's Chicago SpireAny ideas yet?

There have apparently been six proposals to re-use the site.

One is by SPACE architects and called ‘Mine The Gap’ – it uses the empty tube as an open air entertainments venue (although it will have a retractable canvas roof when necessary) and will be powered by wind turbines above.Mine The GapAnother idea is to turn the whole site in a mini nature reserve.  Called ‘Birds in Horto’ and designed by Peter Schaudt, the pit will be flooded and a walkway will allow people to pass through the site without disturbing the wildlife.Birds In HortoThe third idea looks far too busy and commercial for my liking.  Called ‘The Urban Island’ and designed by Michael Day, it appears to be an attempt to enliven a drab part of the city by creating a mess of shops around a transport hub and cultural space – I’m not so sure.

Urban IslandThe next idea is essentially a replacement skyscraper using the existing foundation.  I didn’t bother including an artist’s impression because it is a far too unimaginative use of the space – at least the others try to do something different and unexpected.  Although if you do want to see it, and all the others, they are here on designboom.

The fifth idea is beautifully simple – turn the place into a giant swimming pool which siphons the river water and filters it before returning it back to the river it cleaner than it was; it’s called ‘The Swimming Hole’ and is designed by Martin Felsen and Sarah Dunn.Swimming HoleThe last idea is ‘The High Tech Hot Tub’ by Clare Lyster and Alejandro Saavedra, which initially made me sigh with disappointment; but on discovering the reasoning behind it, it actually sounds quite good.  Why not use the hole as a huge data storage centre and cool the machines with the cold water of the Chicago River – the resultant hot water can then be used to heat hot tubs at the surface for the public to use.High Tech Hot TubIf you’d like to find out more you can read the original article on designboom, here.  It is interesting that most of the comments after the article on designboom think that the proposals are a waste of ‘valuable urban space‘ and it would be better to ‘try to finish the Spire or build an even more outstanding one (taller and grander). The city needs more skyscrapers‘.  I find this quite amazing from readers of a design orientated website.  It is a very unimaginative view of space – yes, it is a valuable commodity in a city, but surely not only in financial terms.

So which is your favorite – or do you have a better idea?

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