Studio Gang Ford Calumet Environmental Center project records
Part of:
  • Studio Gang (archive creator)
  • Jeanne Gang (architect)

Studio Gang Ford Calumet Environmental Center project records



Level of archival description:
Extent and medium:

  • Approximately 1315 drawings

    7 models

    0.10 linear meters of textual records

    Approximately 7888 digital files (17.4 GB)

Scope and content:

The Studio Gang Ford Calumet Environmental Center project records, 2003-2011, document the design of the center both during the competition phase and the full-term phase, when the firm won the project. The records consist of both digital and physical records.

Studio Gang’s competition-winning entry, “Best Nest,” is one of the office’s early foundational projects. Further developed and renamed the Ford Calumet Environmental Center, it presents a design and construction process driven by local and sustainable concerns. Asking “what if a building was more like a nest?” its architecture is made from what is at-hand: readily available, discarded and scrap material found on or near its site. Salvaged steel sections, for example, are used as “column bundles” that provide the building’s structure without needing to be melted and reformed into standard dimensions. Slag and glass bottles are made into terrazzo flooring, and rebar is used to create a mesh-like screen that wraps the building’s long south porch. This screen serves as a bird blind from which visitors can observe the more than 100 types of birds and other species at Hegewisch Marsh. (The largely undeveloped site is a key avian nesting ground and resting stop on the Mississippi Flyway, and a year-round habitat for many other animals.) The rebar screen also prevents birds from flying into the building’s glass curtainwall—the cause of hundreds of millions of avian deaths per year and an architectural issue that Studio Gang has pursued through research and design in many subsequent projects.

Inside, the building is divided into three parts—an exhibition area, an auditorium, and laboratory space—that together serve its purpose to share and develop knowledge about the site’s unique industrial and natural histories. These three sections can be used separately or in unison, and each contains their own bathroom cores and mechanical zones to lower overall energy use. The building’s other sustainable features include geothermal heat pumps, earth tubes, a biomass boiler, and water collection systems. Cutting-edge at their time, these systems were rigorously integrated into the architecture to help the Center function like a living organism, intimately connected with its ecology. Along with the building’s materiality, they are intended to perform an educational role—demonstrating the sustainable principle of re-use and questioning how we might build and live differently in a post-industrial age.

Despite multiple fundraising efforts, the Center remains unrealized, in part due to changing political and economic leadership. Most recently, it was re-envisioned as a future anchor of the Millennium Reserve, a 140,000-acre open space system conceived in 2012 to connect green spaces throughout northeast Illinois, with the Calumet region at its core. In this vision, the Center would become a green job training and development hub where workers and volunteers expand their skill sets in environmental remediation, restoration, and conservation practices.

The material includes approximately 3780 AutoCAD files, approximately 1315 drawings, 7 models and 0.10 linear meters of textual records. This material includes original sketches, plans sections and studies for both phases of the project, reports and presentation documents, study models, and presentation models. These primarily document the evolution of the design from 2003 to 2007.
Reference number:


Physical characteristics and technical requirements:

This fonds contains a number of born-digital files in CAD and 3D modeling formats. Due to the complex and often proprietary nature of CAD formats, proper rendering and use of these files may require highly specific software. CCA’s dedicated Study Room CAD workstation is loaded with a wide but incomplete range of such software. For further information about services and software available for interacting with obsolete or niche file formats, please contact Collection Reference (reference@cca.qc.ca).


These records are arranged into one series based on each of the projects present:

Series 1. Project files for competition

Series 2. Project files for full-term design
Biographical notes:

Founded by Jeanne Gang in 1997, Sudio Gang Architects is an award-winning architecture, interiors, and urban design practice based in Chicago and New York.

Gang earned her Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Illinois in 1986. In 1989, she was an International Rotary Fellow and studied at the ETH Swiss Federal University of Technical Studies in Zurich, Switzerland and earned a Master of Architecture with Distinction from the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1993.

She also studied at the École nationale supérieure d'architecture de Versailles -ENSAV-, in Versailles, France. Prior to establishing Studio Gang in 1997, she worked with Rem Koolhas at Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

A 2011 MacArthur Fellow, Gang and her Studio were awarded the 2013 National Design Award for Architecture from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Gang was named the 2016 Woman Architect of the Year by the Architectural Review. In 2017, she was honored with the Louis I. Kahn Memorial Award (Philadelphia Center for Architecture) and Fellowship in the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, and was also elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2018, she was elected an International Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), a lifetime honor.

Currently a Professor in Practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), Gang has also served as the John Portman Design Critic in Architecture and a visiting critic at the GSD (2017 and 2011), a visiting studio critic at the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (2015), the Cullinan Visiting Professor at Rice University School of Architecture (2014), a visiting lecturer at the Princeton University School of Architecture (2007), the Louis I. Kahn Junior Visiting Professor at Yale University School of Architecture (2005), and a studio critic at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Her studios have explored how design creates beneficial connections between people and their environments, with a focus on cities, ecologies, materials, and technologies of the 21st century.

Gang is known for an interdisciplinary design process that foregrounds relationships between individuals, communities, and environments.
Conditions governing access:
  • Access by appointment only.
Conditions governing reproduction:
  • For copyright information or permission to reproduce material from the fond, please contact the CCA (reproductions@cca.qc.ca).
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer:
  • Gift of Jeanne Gang on October 5th 2017
Custodial history:
  • These records were stored at the firm’s office in Chicago prior to their transfer to CCA. Digital files were transferred via Dropbox as a zipped BagIt directory.
Archivist's note:
  • Processing and description was completed by Digital Processing Archivist Justine Couture in July 2019.
Credit line:
Pour citer la collection en entier | Use this credit line when citing the entire collection :

Studio Gang Ford Calumet project records,
Collection Centre Canadien d'Architecture/
Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal;
Gift of Jeanne Gang and Studio Gang / Don de Jeanne Gang et Studio Gang

Pour citer des objets spécifiques, veuillez vérifier la ligne de crédit de l’objet avec Référence à la collection.
When citing specific collection objects, please verify the object’s credit line with CCA Reference.
Language of material:
  • English
Related units of description:
  • Additional resources at CCA include: Gang, Jeanne. Reveal: Studio Gang Architect. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2011. Gang, Jeanne, Ryan, Zoë, ed. Building: Inside Studio Gang Architect. Chicago, IL: Studio Gang Architects: in association with the Art Institute of Chicago, 2012. Goldsmith, Sara, ed. Vitamin green. London; New York, NY: Phaidon, 2012.

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