Тhe Future of Goose Island

As the sole (artificial) island of Chicago’s river network, the case of Goose Island presents itself as a singularity. The baggage of its industrial legacy has banished it to an isolated fate; a geographic island within the vacuum of a post-­‐industrial corridor. The dredging in 1853 that birthed Goose Island as a transit corridor for manufacturing allowed the area to thrive economically but found itself without a tax base come the post-­‐war period. Tax incentives such as the Planned Manufacturing District have tried to foster a continued prominence in manufacturing but instead its reputation is more of inaccessibility, anonymity, vacancy and homogeneity. Instead it has become more attractive to the tech and innovation economy. Chicago’s legacy as a muscle-­‐town for the production of manufactured goods long deteriorated, but its future could be one that instrumentalizes tech and open source infrastructure to think about the future of production. The Maker Culture could transform scales of manufacturing from the bespoke industrial, to personal production, to enabling commercial start-­‐ups.  

Through our cultural history and technologies, islands reappear as bounded environments for alternative activities, experiments, or ideologies afforded by isolation. Within its bounds, its absurdities and idiosyncrasies are fair game and independent of accepted conventions. Thomas More’s “Utopia” projects a perfect society within the bounds of an island. Walled medieval fortifications are geometric urban exercises. Jurassic Park is a contained biological experiment. Dubai makes the island an icon.  The very nature of Goose Island as singularity and the license of its boundedness endorses physical isolation. As a model for a tech incubator it can further incubate itself from the city-­‐ its self-­‐centeredness means it can be self-­‐sufficient between its means of production and supply. Instead, three Infrastructural conduits crisscross the islands at different speeds, each themed as a continuous public space of its own unique identity and at the same time each has shared flows of resources and processes to service the island.  Its unique size, neither a tech region nor a tech campus serves as a quarantined model for resource flows and a new type of public space.  

The network of corridors creates a collection of plots. Parametrically subdivided into parcels, facades are privileged along corridors and semi-­‐public courtyards are buried at the back-­‐of-­‐house. The crossing of infrastructural corridors privileges greater moments of density. At the crossing of all 3 are the moments with the tallest buildings but also the moments of greater civic pronouncement and infrastructural confluence. These are never about efficiency so much as about spectacle. The zoning envelope at these moments bows to the plaza by sloping down to reduce shadows, announce the intersection, and  potentially welcome the public onto these surfaces.