In the near future, a crumbling parking lot in downtown Dallas, Texas will be the location of the first fully sustainable, urban square block in the United States. Re:Vision Dallas is the sixth competition in a series from the San Francisco, California-based organization, Urban Re:Vision – a group of people focused on changing the urban landscape by re-imagining the components which make up a city block.

The winning proposals for Re:Vision Dallas feature some truly innovative designs for this block.

“Forwarding Dallas,” from the architectural firms Atelier Data and MOOV of Lisbon, Portugal, is modeled after the hillside. The site is a series of valleys and hilltops that contain vegetation native to Dallas. The hills harvest solar thermal, photovoltaic, and wind energy, to provide 100% of the energy needed for the 854 residents it accommodates. Water is collected at the rooftop, recycled, and stored underground for grey water usage and irrigation, and water-permeable paved areas prevent pooling and flooding. A venetian-blind-like system on the southwest facade, set up for solar gain, adjusts according to the season.

David Baker + Partners Architects and Fletcher Studio, of San Francisco, feature vertical farming in their design “Greenways Xero Energy.” Solar energy fuels hot water heaters on top of the building and produces electricity during the day, along with photovoltaic panels in a grid-tied system along the south end. Shading on the south side of the building reduces cooling loads, and geothermal tubes help mediate temperature swings. A water catchment system provides for grey water irrigation. A ground source heat pump combined with a hybrid desiccant cooling system provides air conditioning to the 210 bedrooms during summer months, with minimal energy use.

The firm LITTLE of Charlotte, North Carolina, came up with “Entangled Bank,” inspired by Darwin's metaphor for the complexity and connectedness of species in the natural world. In this design, a vertical farm climbs the side of the building, allowing each tenant space to grow produce. A micro-chip system produces electricity on-site through the combustion of fuel, and the heat released in this process is captured for heating water. Photovoltaic arrays are attached to the exterior, providing 100% of the power required for each of the 500 units. A vertical axis wind turbine provides power for core needs, such as common lighting. A grey water system treats and re-distributes domestic waste water for use in irrigation.

One of the three designs will be selected for implementation by the Central Dallas Community Development Corporation (CDCDC) – a Texas nonprofit corporation which controls the city block that is the subject of the competition. The site is 2.5 acres, and is to be carbon neutral in operations and produce zero waste water, including run-off. Construction is to achieve a 75% diversion of construction waste, and is anticipated to begin in the fall of 2010. Economic conditions beyond the control of Central Dallas CDC could prevent the project from going forward, but the corporation intends to make every reasonable effort to develop the site through to completion.

(Urban Re:Vision)