Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
CO2ngress Gateway
Danny Mui & Benjamin Sahagun
Site: Congress and Wells, Chicago IL, USA
Illinois Institute of Technology
Antony Wood
2012 Hi-Rise, Lo-Carb: Chicago
Every day, 77,000 carbon-emitting vehicles fly past the Congress Parkway interchange, polluting the air. This project creates a gateway over the corridor that filters air and fuels a new breed of car for its residents.

Exiting off 3 major highways, visitors to the loop enter Chicago through CO2ngress Gateway Towers

Future CO2 levels must be lowered

The building's form is a response to neighboring residential towers and Congress Parkway

Showing the site in relation to major pieces of the city

The City’s CO2 levels are lowered in the through a cycle of processes integrated in the building

Section showing the large central atrium that houses Algae gravity-clarifiers

Typical Plan showing a central and outdoor communal space resulting from the shifting of plates

Typical Residential Plan showing a central and outdoor communal space created by the shifting of plates

Physical model showing the diagrid structure

Section detail showing enclosed balconies created by the double skin façade

Looking North along Wells Street

A public plaza covering Congress Parkway is placed over the site’s curved vehicular ramps

Cars can be seen speeding by below while pedestrians enjoy a tranquil environment

Communal outdoor courtyard surrounded by algae bio-reactor tubes

Restaurant in bridge, looking east down Congress Parkway towards Buckingham Fountain

Automated parking garage where residents can borrow a vehicle fueled by the bio-fuel produced on-site

“The Congress Gateway project, with its carbon-scrubbing crown, naturally ventilated atrium and algae facade, seeks to establish a new high-rise vernacular which is a product of its time and place.”

The site is all about cars: thousands of them swirl around it every day, entering and exiting the Eisenhower Expressway. The interchange represents a well-known fact: carbon dioxide pollution—a large percentage of which is produced by cars—is an international problem. The CO2ngress Gateway Towers incorporates a system of carbon scrubbers, filtration devices that clean carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the air. The captured CO2 is fed to algae grown within the building, which is in turn processed into bio-fuel used for building residents’ eco-friendly cars, further cutting CO2 emissions.

A Contextual Gateway to the City
The two buildings that comprise Congress Gateway Towers split to avoid blocking views for a neighboring building and converge at the top, creating a visual gateway over Congress Parkway into the city. A bridge, which contains a public restaurant, joins the towers. Covering and landscaping the access ramps to the Eisenhower Expressway creates pedestrian connections and upends the site’s car-centric identity.

Scrubbing the City’s Air
Carbon scrubbers, which capture carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the air, crown the Co2ngress Gateway Towers. The scrubbers are the first step in a process that generates fuel for a fleet of eco-friendly cars for building residents. The system raises public awareness of air pollution and its impact on the health of Chicagoans.

Living Over Congress Parkway
The CO2ngress Gateway Towers’ double-skin façade, a system of two layers of windows, reduces traffic noise and creates enclosed balconies. The façade is operable, which allows for natural cross-ventilation of the units through the building’s atrium. 

An Integrated Bio-Fuel Farm
The irregular form of the tower, bisected by the central elevator core, results in some small spaces either side of the core. These spaces are utilized as communal outdoor terraces for residents and are enclosed by bio-reactor tubes. The tubes grow algae which is harvested and processed into bio-fuel.