Practice :: Stored Potential

Stored Potential

Critiquing contemporary urbanism through obsoletion.

Stored Potential began as a desire to do something with a grain elevator that had become visual white noise to 76,000 daily passing commuters on I-80. After interstate expansion removed a direct off-ramp, it became inconvenient for farmers to deliver grain. The rail was removed, the elevator sat empty for decades, and it slowly became described as an ‘eyesore’ until local rock climbers stepped in and cleaned it up for climbing activities. Meanwhile, we wondered if this marker of urban transformation, situated half-way between downtown and westward suburban expansion could become a canvas for artists’ perspectives about the region’s built environment? What would artists have to say if given a 20’x80′ canvas? The owners agreed to support our idea of temporarily transforming the exterior with large, fabric mesh banners, leading to a collaboration among artists, foundations, city agencies, landowners, organizations, sponsoring corporations and individuals, neighborhood associations, and countless volunteers.

Stored Potential 1: Land Use, Food, and Agriculture

In spring 2010, Emerging Terrain solicited submissions for 20’x80’ images to install on the exterior of 13 of the elevator’s silos. Selected images were chosen for their interpretation of the interrelatedness between Land Use, Food, and Agriculture. The images were printed at the scale of the structure, temporarily hung to wrap the concrete cylinders, celebrated with an 800-foot long Harvest Dinner, and led to a larger planning initiative Shifting Thresholds, addressing past and present land use at the suburban/rural edge of the city.

Stored Potential 2: Transportation

In 2011 another call for submissions was released to launch Stored Potential 2. In May 2012, the remaining 13 silos were covered with banners about Transportation. While transportation infrastructures have considered the movement of people and goods from one location to another, transport can include networks linking people, goods, ideas, information, economic growth, urban development, cultures, resources, and technology. The fully bannered elevator was celebrated on a nearby bridge over Interstate-80, Elevate, and led to the larger planning initiative Realigning a Region, which developed a vision for Omaha’s derelict Belt Line rail corridor, otherwise known as the Field Club Trail adjacent to the elevator.


Through both project phases, over 1000 submissions were received from across the globe. The final 26 selected banners were designed by: Matthew Rezac (Cultivator), Omaha, NE; Matthew Farley (Oglala), Lawrence, KS; Tinca Joyner (80-Feet of Tomatoes), Omaha, NE; Mary Day (Corn Cob), Omaha, NE; William Watson (Speak Up for Small Farms), New York, NY; Jeremy Reding (Corn as Commodity), Seattle, WA; Geoff DeOld and Emily Andersen (Aerial Production, Omaha Underground, and Design Speed Minimum Radii), New York, NY; Brian Kelly (Concrete Synergies), Omaha, NE; Cathy Solarana (Drive Shed), Omaha, NE; Bob Trempe (Hourglass and Around the Bend), Philadelphia, PA; M. Brady Clark (Bacon), Austin, TX; Scott Keyes (Diminishing Returns), Honolulu, HI; Shaun Smakal (Battery), Vancouver, BC; Bethany Kalk (Ant Trails), Minneapolis, MN; Tim Guthrie (Trainscape), Omaha, NE; Brian Hamilton (Grey Matter), Omaha, NE; Ashley Byars and Bill DeRoin (A Friendly Reminder), Chicago, IL; MAKE Collaboration (Food Miles), Lincoln, NE; Hank Novak (This Blows), Omaha, NE; Kimberly Glass (Passing By), Omaha, NE; Erica Rowe and Brian Mohr (Google Map), Omaha, NE; LeAnn Jensen (Time Lapse of Transportation), Omaha, NE; and Maria Hansen (Corn Rocket/Big Dream), Omaha, NE.


SP1: Jeff Day, Architect and Professor, Min Day, Omaha, NE; Mason White, Architect/Urbanist and Professor, Lateral Office, Toronto, ON; Jamie Hand, Design Specialist, National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, DC; JD Hutton, Artist Services and Communications Manager, Nebraska Arts Council, Omaha, NE.

SP2: Emily Waugh, Graphic Design Communication, Instructor, Harvard University, Boston, MA; Peter Hind, Architect and Professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE; Suzanne Wise, Executive Director, Nebraska Arts Council, Omaha, NE; John Cary, Founder and Director, Public Interest Design, New York, NY.


Sincere thank you to project founders: Peter Kiewit Foundation and the Weitz Family Foundation, project sponsors: the Omaha Venture Group, Nebraska Arts Council and Kutak Rock, and banner sponsors: Cargill, Carol Gendler, Dana Bradford/Waitt Company, Duncan Aviation, First National Bank, Gavilon Group, HDR, Marathon Realty, Mike and Susan Lebens, Omaha Steaks, The Scoular Company, Paul and Annette Smith, Trumble Family Farms, and Warren Distribution. And of course, our friends at Silo Extreme Outdoor Adventures for use of their grain elevator.