ACUA Ireland



My proposed building, the “onion”, will be a museum that will tell the story of the history of Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. and the major events that have taken place in the city of Chicago.  It is stated that the name “Chicago” came from the French rendering of the Native American word “shikaakwa”, which means “wild onion”.  From this I decided to base the design of the building around the shape of an onion and to call the building the “Onion: Museum of Chicago”. 

The site that I have chosen to place the building is DuSable Park in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.  Jean Bapiste Pointe du Sable is known as “The Father of Chicago” and was declared the Founder of Chicago in 1968.  The proposed site was named after Jean Bapiste Pointe du Sable in 1987.  DuSable Park is currently an urban park of 3.24 acres in area and is currently awaiting redevelopment.  The site is located directly east of North Lake Shore Drive and southwest of Navy Pier with Lake Michigan to the east.  To the north is Ogden Slip, to the south is Chicago River and the Chicago Spire, currently under construction is to the west.

The design of this building has been based on an onion plant, specifically the bulb.  I cut through the bulb vertically and horizontally to understand the shape and form of the bulb.  As well as creating the external shape of the building similar to an onion, the internal make up of an onion was used as a template for the internal design of the building.  The enclosed pictures of internal parts of an onion bulb show this.

The centre of the onion symbolises Jean Bapiste Pointe du Sable and his wife Kittahawa.  Like onion ringlets that grow around the core, the city of Chicago grew around their family over history.

Externally, the outer edge of the onion is surrounded at ground level by a 6m wide moat like outdoor water feature; this is illustrated on the ground floor plan and the section through the building.  Services and other plant will be situated in the basement floor.  Access is gained to the ground floor across the bridge over the moat.  The ground floor will feature the entrance hall, lobby area and a souvenir shop.   An interactive digital historical exhibition that will compromise of a walk through display of the city of Chicago over different periods of time will be included on the first, second and third floors.  The fourth floor will feature an interactive projection exhibition area with historical videos of Chicago’s past.  An observation area that overlooks spectacular views of the city of Chicago and Lake Michigan will be incorporated on the fifth floor.  An outdoor roof garden will be situated on the sixth floor which can be used as an observation point, with extensive views across the city.  Green spotlights will be situated on this roof that will shine high into the night sky.  They will symbolise the stalk of a wild onion. 

The spherical shape of the onion will create a contrasting point among the existing surrounding buildings of the Chicago streetscape.  The spherical curved shape of the onion will generate a soft focus in DuSable Park.  This will reinforce the relaxed atmosphere of the park that will include spectacular view of Lake Michigan and Chicago River.

The onion will make use of sophisticated water to air heating and cooling system.  The external leaf of the onion comprises of a double glazed façade system, forming an air thermo barrier.  Air will circulate between the outer and inner leaf glazing. This air can help to heat or cool the building.  LED lights, powered by photovoltaic panels, will be situated on the inner leaf glazing and they will shine outside.  In cold weather they will help to warm the air circulating between both sets of glazing.  The façade will be divided into sections and small fans will direct the air between each section to where it’s required for either heating or cooling. 

The building will also incorporate the latest technology and best building practice in terms of energy efficiency and reducing the carbon footprint of the building.  As far as possible all materials will be locally sourced from renewable sources and all materials will be low embodied energy materials.  The building will incorporate renewable energy systems including rainwater recycling for all water to be used in toilets, solar panels to be situated on the façade to be used to heat water and photovoltaic panels situated on the façade to be used to create electricity. 


The Onion                                                               by Andrew Cassidy