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Omni wins IL-ASLA award in Landscape Architectural Research

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Omni is thrilled to accept a 2017 Honor Award from IL-ASLA in Landscape Architectural Research for our rooftop wheat prairie. 

Exploring the overlooked capabilities of green roof agriculture, Omni pursued a unique opportunity to investigate the quality and feasibility of green roof grain production. The resulting Wheat Prairie Harvest was a proof-of-concept research project, culminating in the first-known rooftop wheat harvest.

Located atop the Chicago offices of Studio Gang Architects, the wheat was initially intended as a cover crop that would create a singular, pastoral aesthetic. However, when the grain matured into a toxin-free, food-grade crop, Omni Ecosystems and Studio Gang capitalized on the research potential. Urban youth from local program After School Matters were incorporated into the project, learning hands-on lessons in productive landscapes led by The Roof Crop.

In the end, 66 pounds of grain was threshed, winnowed, and milled into a sampling of baked goods and pastry flour by Baker Miller Chicago. The Wheat Prairie project provided valuable data regarding green roof grain production, proving the viability of rooftop wheat production.

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Catch Omni at River Edge Ideas Lab Exhibition

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Visit the Chicago Architecture Foundation's River Edge Ideas Lab exhibit to glimpse into an alternate future for the Chicago River. 

Drawing on ideas from 9 world-class design firms (including Omni Ecosystems), this exhibit presents a bold revisioning of the Chicago River. Participating firms conceptualized solutions for three distinctly challenging landscape typologies identified along the river’s edge. 

Omni collaborated with Perkins + Will on a concept titled "Third Nature" which seeks to proactively improve the river's ecological conditions, enhance social equity through access, foster a productive river, and create a memorable human experience.

On display through June, these concepts and public feedback will inform the City of Chicago's new design guidelines. See this exciting exhibition and add your comments. Details below. 

PRICE:    Free and open to the public

HOURS:    9am to 5pm daily, March 26, 2018 through June 30, 2018.

LOCATION:    CAF Lecture Hall Gallery, 224 S. Michigan Ave.

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We're hiring!

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Omni seeks Operations Field Crew / Laborers

...to join our team on an hourly basis for 30‐50 hours per week seasonally from early March 2018 to approximately October‐November 2018. Operations Field Crew / Laborers are integral members of the Omni Operations team and play the frontline, hands‐on role in executing Omni’s mission.

Learn more about the position by clicking here.

Interested and qualified candidates should email Jessica Bourque at info@omni-ecosystems to request an application. 

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Molly Meyer on 'Naturalizing the Vertical Realm'

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Molly Meyer joins a diverse panel for a rapid-fire discussion about the greening of tall buildings, presented by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. 

ABOUT THE EVENT: "The greening of tall buildings is reaching a new level of sophistication around the world, encompassing a movement to incorporate full-height planted walls, green roofs, wind turbines and the latest solar harvesting technology. Four experts debate the benefits and challenges of this considerable new direction for our cities."

WHEN: February 1, 2018  |  6PM

WHERE: Chicago Architecture Foundation Lecture Hall, 224 S. Michigan Ave. 

REGISTER: Click here. Discounts available for CAF and CTBUH members

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Grow with us! The Roof Crop & Omni are hiring

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Interested in an exciting opportunity in rooftop farming? Omni and The Roof Crop are hiring! Read the descriptions below and submit all application materials to Jessica Bourque at info@omni-ecosystems.

THE POSITIONS 

Omni and TRC seek conscientious and efficient candidates for the positions of Farm Operations Manager and Lead Farmer. The Farm Operations Manager will work closely with The Roof Crop – an affiliate company of Omni Ecosystems – to create a smooth flow of product from field to market and ensure the quality our clients expect from us. The Lead Farmer also will work closely with The Roof Crop to build and maintain Omni Green Roofs with the express intent of for‐profit farming by The Roof Crop.

The Farm Operations Manager and the Lead Farmer will answer both to the CEO of Omni and the COO of The Roof Crop. The two roles will work closely with each other as well as with the Farm Operations Coordinator.

For complete job descriptions, please follow the links below.

Lead Farmer

Farm Operations Manager

 

 

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Green Roof Inspiration & Education with Molly Meyer

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Architectural network Land8 interviewed Molly Meyer about Omni's award-wining Rooftop Wheat Prairie atop Studio Gang Architects.

Learn about the inspiration behind this unique project and key factors for its success. 

"In a larger sense, the wheat prairie restores a vital stretch of landscape to the built environment. Along with the typical green roof benefits it provides, the Rooftop Wheat Prairie reclaims the cultural, social, and financial value once inherit to the natural landscape. "

Click here for the full article!

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Omni Workshop Accepting Portfolios

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Omni Workshop is seeking creative, independent, and conscientious thinkers with a commitment to our shared vision: landscapes have the power to change everyday lives. Join our collaborative firm as a Designer and work closely with our team of professionals. Candidates should be self-motivated and adhere to high standards of excellence and accountability.

Desired skills:

  • Strong conceptual design ability at a variety of scales and strong 3D spatial design, graphic representation and software skills

  • Enthusiastic commitment to the multidisciplinary design process and team-focused environment

  • Demonstrated knowledge in the art and practice of landscape architecture, urban design, related history and theory, and private and public development

  • Completion of a professionally-accredited landscape architecture or architectural degree program

  • Entry-level to 5 years experience

Contact

If you are a dedicated designer who excels at collaboration and meets the above qualifications, then please send your CV and portfolio to Jessica Bourque at info@omni-ecosystems.com. Portfolios must be submitted for all design positions. Applications without work samples will not be considered. Portfolios should be one PDF attachment, 10-20 pages, at a maximum of 5 MB.

At Omni, we welcome and encourage diversity in the workplace. We believe an inclusive environment benefits our employees, our firm, and our community, while also enriching and challenging our own thinking about design. We are proud to be an equal opportunity employer.

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Molly Meyer in Voyage Chicago

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Learn about Omni's beginnings in Molly's interview with Voyage Chicago.

"...it has been a rocky, mountainous, off-roading journey. What we at Omni are doing has never been done before, compounded by challenges that arise in the slow-to-change and adverse-to-change construction industry. My personal experience has been countless hours of tremendous hard work, pushing towards our vision daily, driving this thing forward."

Click here to check out the full interview!

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Omni helps shape Chicago River's future at Ideas Lab

Omni Ecosystems was thrilled to contribute to this year's River Edge Ideas Lab, an exhibit for  the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Omni closely collaborated with architecture firm Perkins + Will on a conceptual, exciting design that would extend the riverwalk and re-animate the Chicago River. Their combined vision—titled Third Nature— creates harmony between the area’s built environment and ecological assets. Their strategy imagines Chicago’s first riverside beach, a vertically oscillating plaza and a wetland water filtration system among other forward-thinking concepts.

For the exhibit, the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development and the Metropolitan Planning Planning Council invited nine world-class architecture and landscape architecture firms to develop ideas for three sites along the river: the Civic Opera Edge, the Congress Parkway Edge, and the the Air Line Bridge Edge.

“We developed overarching principles, and dove into what makes each site unique, and explore ways to celebrate that,“ said Michael Skowlund, Omni’s Director of Landscape Architecture who partnered on the project.

For years, the Chicago river edge has been zoned industrial, lined with freight rail, grain towers, steel & lumber yards and other hallmarks of the city’s fierce and notorious industrialization.

Pre-industrialization, the unadulterated landscape looked much different. Tallgrass prairies, beach dunes, dense forest and wetland marshes were among the ecological treasures bordering the river.

Merging these histories—alternatively known as First Nature and Second Nature— informed their prospective design, Skowlund said.

Although conceptual, the ideas could have a real impact on future development along the river. The vision along with public feedback will help inform the city’s new river edge design guidelines.

The ideas exhibit also aligns with the MPC Our Great Rivers action-agenda which calls for the Chicago River to be a more inviting, productive and livable landscape by 2040. 

“There is a push to make the Chicago River an amenity— a space people can access and engage. It is transforming from an industrial river into a recreational river,” Skowlund said. “This is an exciting opportunity to help shape that future!”

The ideas exhibit is free and open to the public. Residents are highly encouraged to voice their opinions and provide feedback in person or online.


Online:

www.chiriverlab.com/

On display September 18-January 7, 2018 at:

 Expo 72, 72 E. Randolph St. 

Omni & Perkins + Will live gallery talk October 10 at:

 Expo 72, 72 E. Randolph St. 


 

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Omni wins Awards of Excellence

Omni Ecosystems will accept two awards at the 2017 Cities Alive Conference, hosted by North America’s trade association for living infrastructure professionals. The Awards of Excellence celebrate the most exemplary green roofs across 9 categories, and are chosen by a prestigious multi-disciplinary judging panel that includes architects, landscape architects, engineers, and horticulturists.

Omni's winning projects were selected for their innovations in ecology, rooftop agriculture and urban living.

You can read more about Omni and other award-winning projects in the most-recent issue of Living Architecture Monitor.

“At Omni, we see green roofs as more than a sustainable technology. They are viable spaces for food, fellowship, education, research, and employment, and these two award-winning projects exemplify that ethos. We look forward to developing future groundbreaking projects that elevate the possibilities of living infrastructure systems and that reconnect people with nature.”

- Molly Meyer

 

Rooftop Wheat Prairie

Taking top honors in the Extensive Commercial category is Omni’s Rooftop Wheat Prairie,  a unique, picturesque landscape growing atop Studio Gang Architects headquarters in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood.

In designing this roof, a team of architects and ecologists sowed a crop of red winter wheat into a 4,700-square-foot, 5-inch rooftop prairie. The grain’s purpose was threefold: creating a singular pastoral aesthetic for the client, one that mirrored the Midwestern landscape; providing wind protection for cover crops and wildflowers also growing in the meadow; and determining the extent to which green roofs could address food security issues in urban landscapes vis-a-vis cereal grain production. The proof-of-concept research conducted at this site resulted in the first-known rooftop wheat harvest, which produced 66 pounds of high-quality pastry flour, and provided a working model for urban grain production.

 

1516 West Carroll Rooftop Farm

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Winning the Intensive Commercial category is Omni’s 1516 West Carroll Rooftop Farm, a fully-functioning, commercial-scale rooftop farm located in Chicago’s West Loop.

The site features three roofs, which are farmed commercially. The 4-8 inch green roofs yield 44 different crops in more than 100 varieties, including green beans, potatoes, radishes, turnips, raspberries, and even apples. The fruits, veggies and florals harvested from the farm are purchased by nearby food cooperatives, consumers and restaurants which use them in locally-sourced dishes and drinks. Harvests are conducted weekly, making the roof a viable and reliable source of hyperlocal food.

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Omni Green Roof caps Indiana Pacers training complex

 Omni tends to the newly-seeded green roof atop the Indiana Pacers facility. 

Omni tends to the newly-seeded green roof atop the Indiana Pacers facility. 

Last month, Omni completed the installation of an 8,500-square-foot Omni Green Roof atop the Indiana Pacers new, $50 million training complex in downtown Indianapolis. The 5-inch system supports a thriving food meadow and native prairie. Rooftop produce will feed building tenants and the cities hungry population through a local nonprofit. 

"The facility, which was designed by locally based Ratio Architects, also has an 8,500-square-foot rooftop garden, which currently features basil, corn, lettuce, radishes and bok choy. Vegetables grown in the garden will be used in-house by the Pacers’ food services provider, Levy Catering, and donated to Second Helpings, a local not-for-profit focused on hunger relief. " - Indianapolis Business Journal

Read more about the impressive new complex below:

Click here to read the full article from the Indianapolis Star.

Click here for the full story from the Indianapolis Business Journal. 

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omni sponsors annual usgbc boat cruise

 Photo courtesy of Jennifer Rosse Hamm

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Rosse Hamm

The Omni team had a great time at the 13th Annual Boat Cruise, organized by the USGBC Illinois chapter. Omni was proud to sponsor this year's event which advances USGBC's mission to advance green buildings and sustainable communities. More than 500 industry professionals were in attendance, and money raised from the event will support USBGC-Illinois' community service projects, like the upcoming Green Apple Day of Service.

 

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Omni Ecosystems wins social equity award

Omni Ecosystems extends a heartfelt thanks to the USGBC Massachusetts team for organizing a great Green Building Showcase 2017 in the incredible space at ISEC. We are grateful to Grey Lee and Emily Kingston who introduced us to this wonderful opportunity to learn about the projects distinguishing Boston in architecture and sustainability and to meet the people who are pushing those fields forward.

Meeting articulate and motivated people from throughout the industry and seeing the collective ambition of those assembled reminded us how important and inspiring it is to strive for excellence and to further what is possible. We saw great examples of how design, architecture, and living infrastructure can address issues across the social, economic, and environmental spectrums.

It was an honor to win the Social Equity Green Building Market Leadership award and to be in the company of so many other worthy and wonderful projects. All of us at Omni Ecosystems are grateful for this award, and look forward to groundbreaking projects ahead!

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omni featured as urban farming pioneer

A recent article from Thrillist spotlights the growing movement of urban agriculture and its potential to transform our cities. Omni was happy to be featured as an urban farming leader for the story, talking about the challenges and rewards of growing food in green roofs. 

If you’re trying to grow food in a completely foreign environment, where you don’t have nutritious substates, when you don’t have reliable water, when you have extreme temperatures — extreme cold and extreme heat — that’s like Mars, and that’s pretty much what it’s like to grow on a rooftop,
— Molly Meyer

Omni's headquarters features an 8,000-square-foot rooftop farm, growing in 4-8 inches of media. We work with our partners at The Roof Crop to distribute the food directly to local restaurants and consumers. 

Read the full story here: https://www.thrillist.com/lifestyle/nation/how-urban-farming-took-root

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