Inventive ways to reuse land and infrastructure once dominated by industrial development are a growing focus in green building. Brownfield redevelopment, warehouse retrofitting into residential buildings, and factory repurposing are just a few ideas that make give abandoned or polluted areas a greener future.

US dependence on fossil fuel has left us with another phase of post-industrial land in the form of deep mines scattered across the country. While these mines have previously resulted in ecosystem degradation, they also leave some extra space to build down instead of up or out.

Matthew Fromboluti has a vision for abandoned mines, which he believes could be home to underground skyscrapers. Fromboluti assures this redevelopment could help mine-scarred landscapes across the country, starting with the community of Bisbee, Arizona. In 2010, he developed a design project called "Above Below," which includes filling a mine crater with a mixed-use underground structure. The building would capitalize on air circulation to create electricity through a solar chimney and would incorporate vertical gardens.

Proposed plans for underground skyscrapers have popped up in other cities worldwide since Fromboluti first proposed the Above Below project, including the proposed Earthscraper in Mexico City to address needed growth in housing stock despite urban land scarcity. As cities increase in density and architects and planners will need to envision new ways to keep urban centers sustainably sans sprawl, underground skyscrapers could bring new life to other post-industrial abandoned land just like in the mines outside them.

Read more about the Above Below project on Green Building Elements.