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Smog-Eating Permeable Pavers

The plaza for the new Mary Bartelme Park in Chicago sports five large stainless steel post-like sculptural elements that look like they're ambulating. The posts are interactive misting water features, surrounded by contrasting Cor-Ten steel planter walls filled with native perennials and forbs. TX Active cement in the Unilock permeable pavers has a photocatalyzer that reacts to light and speeds up the natural oxidation of pollutants, "transforming them into less harmful compounds such as water, nitrates, or carbon dioxide," according to the Italcementi Group research laboratory. A busy street in Segrete, Italy repaved using this cement, has measured a 60 percent reduction in nitric oxide, according to Italcementi.
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On Aug. 19, 2010, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, along with members of the Chicago Park District (CPD), journalists and ward aldermen, dedicated the new Mary Bartelme Park in the West Loop community.

Site Design Group, a landscape architecture firm, worked in collaboration with the CPD and the West Loop Community Organization on the park design, which used salvaged architectural elements from the previous on-site building. Features include native plants, the newest in architectural paving, open space, a playground and dog play area.

The manufacturer asserts the permeable pavers for the plaza contains smog-eating concrete (TX Active, produced by Essroc). When TX Active is exposed to sunlight, says the manufacturer, it destroys several atmospheric pollutants that can dull and streak concrete surfaces over time. The permeable aspect, of course, allows rainwater to infiltrate into the ground.

The native plants and pavers will reduce long-term maintenance cost for the CPD, said Ernest Wong, a principal with Site Design Group. He said that specifying the pavers with the “smog eating concrete” will keep the plaza “brilliant white over time.”

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November 20, 2019, 3:02 pm PDT

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