HIVES: architecture, industry and labor

[design studio]

Part I

collective historical research of relationship between architecture, industry and labor in Chicago through a typological atlas of related buildings and structures. 

Part II

individual study of architecture as it relates to industry + labor using existing Chicago planned manufacturing districts as site.

Hives (Architecture and Freelance Labor) aims to analyze the industrial era of Chicago, and how current systems of labor shape Chicago today. The necessary expansion of Chicago was possible due to the beast-like scale of production. As Chicago morphed into the industrial hub of the Midwest, it marked the beginning of a “Mechanical Renaissance”: where the machine is established as an crucial part of production process that turns resource into product.  


Chicago  relentlessly capitalized on raw materials (lumber, steel, grain, meat) and resources (territory, waterways, large working class) to produce commodities (housing from lumb


The individual buildings reveal the literal liquidization of labor and commodities. The colonization of the West aligned interests and power. 


We focus on the condition of labor, the economy of work, and the types of architecture that guide these regulations. Beginning with the manipulation of territory, a deep-rooted investment in industry, a foreshadowing precursor to current-day consumerism and the acceleration of living, we come to the open-ended question of why a building exists. ‘Hives’ aims to convey that the building is not an isolated object, but part of a larger system that built Chicago. 






Circulation - 

Culture - resource


Pullman - industry 

Finance - industry

Garment- industry

Warehouses - industry

Commerce-  industry

Steel - industry



Chicago relied heavily on the strong infrastructure in order to transport goods intecontinentally. The rapid influx in grain speculation and the creation of specialty markets enabled the railways to dominate as the core of Chicago’s infrastructural network. Although Chicago’s waterways situated the city in an auspicious geographic location in terms of water access for both transportation, energy, the railways ultimately emerged as higher power due to proximity and convenvience. The all-American empowerment of steel and newer technologies amplified efficiency as the railcar gained speed, reliability and notoriety that comes with linking the various sectors and industrial districts in Chicago. Waterways proved important as many still relied on water transit to ship goods from the surrounding rivers, but in order to accomodate for the nearly tripled population of Chicago, faster methods of transportation were sought to combat the rising congestion and traffic flow. Thousands of freightcars travelled on the tracks daily, each providing and connections to points around the city. The railways proved integral to the transportation of grain, lumber, livestock, passengers, and other commodities empowered Chicago to become the industrial and labor hub of the Midwest. Rail served as the major point of connection between hundreds of stations, railyards, stockyards, and grain silos in the surrounding Chicagoland region. The first passenger railstation was established in 1848 in Galena, Illinois, serving the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad, the first railroad connecting Chicago to the rest of the US. The Galena and Chicago Union Railroad was essentially run by Chicago businessmen, and financed by the rural and smalltown communities along the rail. By 1900, the original 5 major passenger railstations were established at key intersections around the city. Railways diminished distance and rapidly sped up communications, effectively changing the human perception of time. There was no lag time in waiting months for supplies or goods, or letters due to telegraphs. Railroads could move more goods, and faster. It pushed the economy and the essence of production at its core in order to keep up with rising demand and speculation. Railways acted as a geographical liberation that enabled Chicago to become the gateway between the East and the West. “What built Chicago?” “...a junction of Eastern means and Western opportunity”

train cars.png
1910 railyards.png
union plan-01.png
union track diagram-03.png
union section-02.png
el train on black.png

Land Acknowledgement

Chicago is part of traditional homelands of the Council of the Three Fires: the Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi, among many other Indigenous tribes that call the area home. They are acknowledged as the original stewards of the territory we now occupy. Prior to their forced removal, the site was an area of collective trade, gathering and culture. The research focuses primarily on industry, labor, and the architecture that controls.. It is crucial to a

Today, Chicago