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Tuesday, October 3, 2023
At the site of an active community garden along Ogden Avenue in the Lawndale community, the vision for Farm on Ogden was born. The innovative facility grew out of a seed planted by two key organizations with a shared vision to provide greater access to fresh produce for a neighborhood in need. Windy City Harvest and Lawndale Christian Health Center forged a relationship to create a space where local residents can learn about and gain direct access to locally sourced food options. Together, they developed programming to revitalize and strengthen a community in need of better food options, robust health services, and year-round job training in the agriculture and food industries.
"Cities are typically places where food is consumed, not grown. This project plays an important role in introducing city dwellers to the art of agriculture," one juror said. "This project's mission hits every part of the framework for design excellence. Innovative use of wastewater in the process of growing food and raising fish."
The facility’s design extends to the corners with an urban garden to the north and a permeably paved courtyard to the south both providing breakout space for adjacent indoor activities and community gathering space for farmer’s markets and fairs. The renovated portion of the project provides entry and includes flexible public spaces with support offices and a working commercial grade kitchen. Earthy tones of brick and wood dominate the interiors and most facades have greenery trained up them to signify history and permanence. Additionally, steel details signify Lawndale’s industrial past and support oversized signage to amplify their message. To grow Farm on Ogden’s vision, a liberal amount of glass was used at the street edge to showcase the aquaponic spaces and draw visitors in. Here the operable skylit greenhouses have been placed front and center along Ogden Avenue to encourage engagement and pique curiosity. At night the greenhouses’ UV light allows for the growth cycle to continue around the clock with an enchanting glow that advertises the building’s primary purpose: supporting Lawndale’s growth and continued transformation.