Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Clean Tower
Kyle Bigart & Peter Binggeser
Site: Wolf Point, Chicago IL, USA
Illinois Institute of Technology
Antony Wood
2012 Hi-Rise, Lo-Carb: Chicago
By focusing on water purification and public space, Clean Tower  redefines the way Chicagoans interact with the Chicago River. The leaning high-rise with dramatic views aims to celebrate, rather than mistreat, the river.

As seen from the Sears Tower, Clean Tower leans over the Chicago River

By leaning over the river, the tower gains views while giving space back to the public

Water plays a vital role worldwide and is already a scarce commodity

System/Flow diagram showing the different processes which involve water

Clean Tower's prominence and form creates a public icon

Residence Plan for level 74

Section showing residences in the background and wetland space between

Leaning over the river, unobstructed views are gained for residents

A riverfront plaza is created for pedestrians by moving the building to the back of the site

The public plaza steps up and around the building’s base

Wolf Point’s plaza adapts for changing seasons: a pool in the summer, an ice rink in the winter

Tower at night

Naturally cleaned river water is brought into the sky for residents

Residents can enjoy communal wetlands in the sky

Leaning out over the Chicago River

“The tower’s vegetated wetland habitats filled with naturally-cleaned water bring the experience of riverfront living up into the sky.”

The Chicago River has long been discarded and mistreated—and generally off-limits to the public. Clean Tower seeks to interact positively with the river and expand riverfront public space. The project looks to reinvigorate Wolf Point; one of Chicago’s most sought after yet currently underused sites.Clean Tower purifies water, creates water habitats in the sky and grows bio-fuel—symbolizing a new relationship between the city and its river. Located at Wolf Point, which juts into the river, Clean Tower creates a large public plaza. The leaning high-rise contains residences, offices, a hotel, retail space, and vertical boat storage.

Icon for a Clean Chicago
By placing the base of the tower at the back of the site and creating a public riverfront plaza, Clean Tower becomes a place for people to connect with each other and the river. The project’s form, which leans towards the river, maximizes views and becomes an icon for a sustainable Chicago.

Cleaning River Water
A new “living machine” wetland placed on the roof of the Merchandise Mart naturally cleans the building’s wastewater, including water taken from the river for mechanical purposes. The clean water from the “living machine” is then sent to supply the tower’s wetlands and eventually returned to the river pollutant free. Using these systems, Clean Tower can purify more than one million gallons of river water annually and is a prototype for riverfront buildings worldwide.

Pixilated Wetlands
Large communal wetland pools bridge the two wings of the tower every eight floors. By bringing naturally-cleaned river water up into the building, the residential units can have direct access to swimming and gathering “by the river.” The 60 residential levels are “pixilated” by creating large exterior spaces on each floor. These spaces contain small, private wetlands for the residents. The tower thus has three scales of river: personal river wetland gardens, the communal river wetland pools every eight floors and the river itself below.

Public Park and Boardwalk Climb
A huge public plaza extends from the water’s edge around the tower to connect with the wetlands atop the Merchandise Mart. Naturally cleaned water flows along a retail boardwalk from the wetlands to the Chicago River. Vertical boat storage between the office and hotel buildings provides revenue for the building and convenience for boatowners.