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June 29, 2016

Opportunistic Urbanism:Fermilab

The future of Fermilab, a national particle accelerator laboratory, located just outside of Chicago, is at a critical juncture following the shutdown of its main accelerator, which once was the biggest particle accelerator in the world. Using that juncture as a launching pad, the project envisions the future of Fermilab beyond the scope of its immediate programmatic needs as a laboratory by addressing two conflicts present on the site.

The first conflict concerns the programmatic shifts dictated by a global socio-economic practices (the pressure by CERN as a replacement of Fermilab). Secondly, the physicality of Fermilab shaped internally by the required expansions of facilities and affected externally by the tendency of a sprawl settlement of the surrounding urban centers. The question for the future of Fermilab then becomes a retrospective one: how to register the lab’s history without compromising the development of both Fermilab and surrounding city.

The proposal transforms the site into a new urban center generated by a formal language of folding and ground manipulation based on the site’s infrastructures from its scientific past. This new center discovers and re-defines Fermilab’s historical layers, and introduces a complexity of urban spaces and programs, which trigger a gradual urban growth and densification.

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Phase 1: Exposure
The first phase of the intervention seeks to excavate the underlying tunnels of the accelerator in order to accommodate communal and public programs such as open performance spaces, exhibition galleries and conference halls.

Phase 2: Regeneration
In this phase existing lab spaces and underground infrastructures are reclaimed and intertwined with newly inserted volumes that as a system fosters hybridization of various public and private programs into a complex urban space

Phase 3: Fusion
The third phase forges a dynamic linkage between the scientific facility zone and a suburban settlement around the boundary. The fusion of the two realms provides suitable conditions for the realization of a complex urban system to develop

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