Chicago Garage Fires Up Helical Wind Turbines for Attractive, Earth-Friendly Parking

Greenway Parking Garage's wind turbine system, viewed from below. via Fast Company

Chicago was nicknamed the Windy City because of its blowhard politicians, not the powerful gusts off Lake Michigan. But a new parking garage took the name to heart regardless and installed this amazing helix-shaped wind turbine system inside the building, making urban turbines not only cool, but functional.

This summer, 12 turbines started spinning at Greenway Self-Park, which bills itself, somewhat oxymoronically, as Chicago’s first Earth-friendly parking garage.

Open-screen walls on the 11-story garage provide ventilation and reveal the cars inside, but also let passersby marvel at the turbines. The garage also has a cistern rain-collection system, sustainable building materials, a recycling program and an electric car charging station.

Lobbies on each floor include information about how to live more sustainably, and the garage has energy-efficient lighting. The garage is pursuing pursuing LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. It even has a reversible meter that can measure and return power to Chicago’s grid throughout the year.

Architect Todd Halamka, director of design at the Chicago office of HOK, tells Fast Company he wanted to celebrate the building’s function, not hide it.

One wonders how green a parking garage can really be, but it’s not like cars are going away anytime soon, so garages might as well aim to ameliorate their impact.

And at the very least, it adds to the architecturally interesting experience of parking in downtown Chicago — you can go underneath trains, curl up through Marina City, and now this.

Fast Company