Clogging the Drain

Clogging the Drain: Rethinking Chicago’s Effluent Hydrologies

Dustin Tobias

This project examines the evolution of Chicago’s wastewater treatment practices, and proposes a new centralized infrastructure for managing the disposal of solid waste. Treated sewage is aerated and transformed into a potent fertilizer known as biosolid. The city’s Sanitary Canal is appropriated as a linier tract of tillable land, incorporating the recycled biosolids as an agent of new vegetative growth. In turn, the sewage of Chicago returns to the city in the form of fragrant flowers.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.