Designs for a Downtown Farm

Seattle's most famed downtown attraction is its farmers market. But what if the business district were also home to an actual farm?

Seattle-based Mithun has drawn up award-winning plans for a vertical farm designed to fit compactly into a 23-story structure on the triangular intersection of 9th Avenue and Olive Way. The urban farm includes 1.35 acres of crops, a chicken farm, an in-house café and more than 300 residences.
As told by AIArchitect:,

Zero net energy use and zero net water consumption were both prerequisites for the design competition. The most cutting-edge sustainability technology in the urban farm stores the power generated from the PV panels in a system housed below ground which converts energy into hydrogen gas and then converts it back into power when demand outpaces supply. Ninety percent of the building’s power will come from these sets of PV panels, with the remaining 10 percent derived from panels along the Interstate 5 corridor. Black water, gray water, and rain water are to be treated and recycled on site through the use of greenhouse biomembrane plants that can isolate and remove contaminants.

A few benefits of high-rise farming: Beyond the obvious boon of reducing food miles for staple products to a mere few blocks from the end user, bringing farms to the city would also free up green space elsewhere, ideally for reclamation by uncultivated ecosystems (currently, more than 460 million acres of U.S. land is used to grow crops).

Sound implausible? In a previous Worldchanging post, Karl Schroeder does the math to show how vertical farms could feed all of Toronto … or even all of Canada.

Finally, for another upright design fix, check out Vertical Gardens.

Images are renderings of the "Center for Urban Agriculture" by Mithun.