Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry recently renovated a “smart” home exhibit housed on its campus to make room for its newest owners—a couple and their young sons. The house was designed and built in 2008 by architect Michelle Kaufmann and Decatur, Ind.-based All American Homes. This time around, it’s outfitted in gently used finds from across the city—a maintenance-cum-dining table from a South Side steel plant, a former local elementary school chalkboard, factory wall tiles repurposed as bathroom flooring—sourced by local vintage furniture and design store Scout. The home’s systems, however, take a decidedly modern and sustainable approach thanks to a partnership with tech blog Gizmodo. The home’s automation system sequesters individual rooms and lets homeowners manage the settings on a single touchscreen panel. And the system is as fun as it is smart: It can play a custom music playlist when the homeowner walks through the door, and a fog-resistant bathroom mirror also relays the time, temperature, news, and traffic while tracking weight and connecting to Facebook. Plus, it showcases a futuristic import: water ovens that make presumably digestible meals out of the contents of vacuum-sealed pouches. Outside, the home uses a green roof, vertical garden, raised flower beds, permeable pavers, and beehives to create a micro ecosystem. The 2012 Smart Home: Green + Wired will run through Jan. 6, 2013.
Are you in Chicago now or planning to come in October for Reinvention? General admission tickets are all you’ll need to see the exhibit, but make sure you sign up for a specific time slot.