Greener Urban Areas – Eco-Boulevards

Each year the jury of the The Buckminster Fuller Challenge awards $100,000 in prize money to honor and encourage further development of the winner’s work. Finalists provide a workable solution to one of the world’s most significant challenges such as water scarcity, food supply, or energy consumption.

One of this year’s finalists was Eco-Boulevards from Sarah Dunn and Martin Felsen of UrbanLab, a research-based architecture and urban design practice. (

Chicago discards over one billion gallons of Great Lakes water per day. This “wastewater” never replenishes one of the world’s most vital resources.

The Eco-Boulevard concept transforms existing roadways, sidewalks and parks, which comprise more than a third of the land in a city such as Chicago, into a passive bio-system for filtering / recycling water, promoting walking / biking, and fostering green-jobs. Treated water is then returned to the Great Lakes, closing Chicago’s water loop.

All urban areas can benefit from more green spaces, safe places for walking / biking and common areas in which people can interact. Just imagine taking half of the space used by downtown parking and turning this into parks, walking paths or other open areas for people. Think it can’t be done? Automated, robotic parking garages can reduce the space needed for parking by 50%. This creates space for greener cities and systems such as Eco-Boulevards while still reducing the traffic congestion and pollution of people driving around looking for parking places.


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