Chicago Wheat Prairie

Award

Merit Award

Site

Chicago, IL

Client

Studio Gang Architects

Category

Architectural Research

Landscape Architects

Project Details

Wheat has been a cornerstone crop for major civilizations throughout the centuries, and still today, wheat consumption in the United States exceeds that of any other food staple. Yet, the versatile, high-calorie food and fuel source is often neglected from urban agricultural discourse. Productive green roof systems in particular center on vegetable and herb production, while the potential to cultivate, harvest, and process cereal and oil crops is largely unexplored.

Exploring the overlooked capabilities of green roof agriculture, Omni Ecosystems pursued a unique opportunity to investigate the quality and feasibility of green roof grain production.

The resulting Wheat Prairie Harvest was a proof-of-concept research project, culminating in the first-known rooftop wheat harvest.

Located atop the Chicago offices of Studio Gang Architects, the wheat was initially intended as a cover crop that would create a singular, pastoral aesthetic. However, when the grain matured into a toxin-free, food-grade crop, Omni Ecosystems and Studio Gang capitalized on the research potential. Urban youth from local program After School Matters were incorporated into the project, learning hands-on lessons in productive landscapes led by The Roof Crop. In the end, 66 pounds of grain was threshed, winnowed, and milled into a sampling of baked goods and pastry flour by Baker Miller Chicago. The Wheat Prairie project provided valuable data regarding green roof grain production, proving the viability of rooftop wheat production and creating an island of already in a sea of not yet.

Project Team

Studio Gang Architects; Bulley & Andrews, LLC

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