Yesterday, the leadership of the soap and cleaning supply manufacturers Method and Ecover officially opened the doors to their brand new $30 million plant on the far South Side. The opening of the new facility is significant on many levels, but particularly so when considering Pullman's long legacy of manufacturing and its role in the early labor movement. However, as the city's downtown continues to boom with new developments, the South Side has had a much different story. The tides are changing for the Pullman neighborhood though, as Alderman Anthony Beale and Mayor Rahm Emanuel indicated that the Method plant is the first new factory to be built on the South Side in nearly 30 years. Started in an apartment in San Francisco, the Method company will produce thousands of cases of cleaning supplies in Chicago per day in a LEED Platinum facility—the only one of its kind in its industry and only one of two in the United States.
Designed by William McDonough + Partners with construction overseen by Summit Design + Build, Method is making a statement with its new 150,000 square foot facility. Before even entering the plant, the factory's large wind turbine, row of solar panels and its brightly colored banners along the face of the building are all very noticeable and certainly contribute to the company's ethos of sustainability. Beyond manufacturing cleaning supplies, the new factory will also boast having the world's largest hydroponic rooftop farm. Once completed, the rooftop farm, managed by New York-based Gotham Greens, will grow one million pounds of fresh produce annually. The bulk of the produce grown at the Method factory will be distributed to grocers throughout the South Side.
As exciting as the new factory is, it's important to consider that it almost never was. According to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Pullman was not initially on the shortlist of the 150 sites in four states that People Against Dirty (the new holding company of Method and Ecover) were initially looking at. However, Method reps credited both the neighborhood's long manufacturing history and its residents for ultimately securing the deal for the South Side of Chicago. "At the end of the day there were a lot of glossy brochures, there were a lot of sales pitches," Mayor Emanuel suggested, "But when the residents of Pullman want something, they're going to push for it." According to Mayor Emanuel, one third of the employees at the plant have Pullman zip codes, indicating that Method is making an effort to hire local. Alderman Beale and the mayor both hinted that this won't be the only major win for the neighborhood. "This is really just the beginning," Alderman Beale stated, "Method was the first, but they're certainly not going to be the last."
·Manufacturing's Green Future Taking Shape at Method's New Pullman Plant [Curbed Chicago]
·Behold! Renderings Of Method's New Pullman Factory [Curbed Chicago]
·Previous Pullman coverage [Curbed Chicago]