CHICAGO PRIZE COMPETITION, 2005:  This competition entry by Monteleone Research and Design was a call to save Chicago water tanks.  These ubiquitous forms in the City’s landscape are becoming obsolete, dangerously dilapidated and cost prohibitive.  The competition asked architects to formulate ideas to preserve these relics.

The proposal calls for utilizing alternative energy sources to transform water tanks into colorful, king-size, self-sustaining lanterns, the water tank project generates energy for its community and revenue for its property owner.

Solar or wind power both transform each water tank into a colorful self-sustaining lantern and provide electricity to the building.  In the kinetic version, various lightweight propellers harness and convert Chicago’s strong winds into electricity.  The energy powers neon lights applied to the tank’s surface.  In the solar version, photovoltaic plates fastened to the cylinder walls of the tank collect energy to power glowing LED plates also applied there. The neon and LED are manipulated into inventive designs that symbolize the distinction of specific neighborhoods.  In addition to creating glowing civic landmarks for their communities, the revivified water tanks supply their buildings with supplementary electricity, defraying energy costs.

The proposal not only preserves the structure and form, but the idea of the water tank.  To Chicagoans, these antiquated mainstays of 20th century firefighting represent a proud industrial age.  Sustainable Civic Art resurrects these relics, reintroducing them as contributing mechanical infrastructure once again, and adding a distinctive visual treat to the rich Chicago cityscape - The City of Rooftop Lanterns.

Project Collaborators: Steven Fett, Rick Lopez, P. Graham Ivory, and Jose Venegas