PORT: Architecture + Urbanism
Chicago / New York

Andrew Moddrell
Christopher Marcinkoski
Carbon T.A.P. Video: Richie Gelles

High Resolution PDF Panels  Panel 1, Panel 2

As Federal, state and local governments undertake consideration of large-scale investments in the renovation and replacement of urban infrastructures, we see a unique opportunity to reconsider the role of these systemic networks and their effect on our contemporary urban landscapes.

In the scenario outlined herein, a new type of green infrastructure is deployed at urban locations comprising concentrated sources of CO2 production. This new infrastructure utilizes a proprietary system of industrial scale algal agriculture to sequester and consume greenhouse gas emissions (in particular CO2) in order to limit their introduction into the atmosphere, while simultaneously creating a new economic resource through the production of oxygen, biofuels, bioplastics, nutraceuticals and/or agricultural feeds. In the scenario shown, this new infrastructure manifests itself as a series of pier-like armatures linked to the ventilation system for the Brooklyn-Battery tunnel.

What is unique about this proposition is not just the introduction of large-scale green infrastructure in the context of a city, but rather the use of this infrastructure to create an exceptional public realm amenity for the city. Rather than considering urban infrastructures as a necessary evil only to be hidden or mitigated, we view the renovation and re-imagination of these systems as opportunities to create new forms of civic and social domain that have the capacity to positively transform the American urban landscape.

Our proposal for a new infrastructural typology that is one part climate action; one part agricultural production; one part ecological preserve; one part public realm; and one part economic catalyst represents what should be the aspiration for all newly deployed urban infrastructures – the ability to fundamentally improve the economic and social quality of a city, as well as the associated lives of its current and future residents.


Algae is one of the most robust classifications of life on earth. Thriving on every continent, they are highly adaptive to any physical environment where they are able to derive energy from photosynthesis and the uptake of organic carbon, particularly in the form of CO2.

Atmospheric CO2 concentrations are not high enough for industrial scale production of algae. However, concentrated CO2 sources such as Coal / CoGen power plants or manufacturing facilities offer potential sources of high level CO2 concentrations. Vehicular tunnels in particular can produce hundreds of millions of cubic feet of CO2 per year.

Capturing even a small fraction of these CO2 emissions would offer an enormous food source for large-scale algae production. However, the challenge of these sources is holding the CO2 before it is delivered to some vessel containing the algae.

In our scenario we use a 2-part system for the capturing of CO2 and providing its controlled delivery to an industrial-scale algae bioreactor. In this system, CO2 emissions are captured and held in what is essentially a giant bladder or rigid balloon which is configured to deliver CO2 to a series of 20,000sf bio-reactors which can be detached for harvesting and processing of their algae crop.

Many of these concentrated CO2 sources are sited near bodies of water allowing the CO2 bladder to function as essentially a large pier or expanded waterfront. As the volume of CO2 needed and produced is quite large, thoughtful integration of the pier into its urban context is an absolute. That said, we propose that these algal piers become the sites of a new typology of public open space that bundles waterfront access with productive green infrastructures.

With 18 vehicular tunnels of greater than 2,000 ft across the US, and thousands of coal and natural gas driven power plants, deployment of adaptations of this system have the potential to reinvigorate a wide range of urban environments throughout the country.