Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture reveal designs for Clean Technology Tower

April 2008

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture recently revealed designs for the "Clean Technology Tower" a prototype, net-zero-energy building.

The prototype Clean Technology Tower, designed for a site in downtown Chicago, is based on principles of biomimicry. The building utilizes advanced technologies to foster a symbiotic relationship with the local environment.

The tower refines conventional methods of capturing natural forces to increase efficiency. In response to local wind patterns, turbines were located at the building's corners to capture wind at its highest velocity as it accelerates around the tower. The turbines become increasingly dense as the tower ascends and wind speeds increase. At the apex, where wind speeds are at a maximum, a domed double roof cavity captures air, allowing for a large wind farm and the use of negative pressures to ventilate the interior spaces. The dome itself is shaded by photovoltaic cells that capture the southern sun.

Designers Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill emphasize that, while the prototype design revealed is specific to a site in downtown Chicago, the design's guiding principles and applied technologies are universal.

"We think of each building as an instrument," said Gordon Gill. "As architects we form and tune the building to optimize its performance. To limit environmental impact and optimize clean energy production a building must be designed in synthesis with its context- both locally, in terms of its site, and globally, in terms of available and developing technologies."

"Our philosophy of 'global environmental contextualism' is universal, but our designs are site-specific," said Smith. "You could build 'Clean Technology Towers' in cities across the globe and each one would be distinct."

As designed, the prototype Clean Technology Tower includes:

  • Over 1.8 million sf of office space
  • 300,000 sf of hotel space
  • A spa
  • Street level retail

Office space is located on high floors to maximize available views and take advantage of the direct natural daylight. Dedicated elevators will provide access for both office and hotel tenants to all of the tower's amenities. The tower's domed top offers unrestricted skyward views, creating a truly modern, grand atrium space.