Past Student Work Archive


The Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) is one of the three most important Futures Exchanges in the world, and significantly has begun to introduce recycled materials (paper, glass, and rubber) as tradable commodities on its Futures Exchange. These young markets have, however, been relatively slow to advance due to lack of consensus of a standardised system of quality control.

The project preempts a near-future scenario where recycled materials have become a more desired commodity as costs rise with scarcity. The building contains three main functions:

(1) Trading floors for official trading activity – using the traditional ‘open-outcry’ form of trading that CBOT uses. Observation decks for analysts and a research unit setting levels of quality control by testing samples of materials.

(2) A public market or ‘swap shop’ – recycling on a micro-economic level also. Public access to watch the trading – each trading floor acts as a mini amphitheatre with seating for lay spectators. This subverts the current relative secrecy under which CBOT operates and aims to improve transparency in economic trading.

(3) The building includes its own stop on the Chicago ‘El’ train. Two lines intersect as they go through the site.

A large unheated hanger made from recycled crane structures holds the trading floors within its body. A series of inflatable curtains regulates temperature and ventilates the independent trading floors according to activity. As trains pass through a nearby tunnel, the piston effect causes a bespoke pressurised chamber to filter the air and top up the ventilation system also providing support to the train stations canopy. These hanging elements sit above a circuit-board like floor which display the materials being traded, in an attempt to force traders (who caused chaos by trading on derivatives and futures) to trade in ‘physical things’.

The project is influenced by the story of Luis Sullivan’s Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Floor being transported in its entirety to the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1950’s. A conceptual extension to the ‘Rust Belt’ the building is composed of recycled elements from disused parts of the city and seeks to carve out an environment and identity entirely from resources found locally.