Living Machine

The Living Machine mimics natural wetlands to filter and reuse the building’s wastewater. 

Looking up at a large, green leaf that extends beyond the frame.
Photo credit: Dale Preston ’83

Fresh water available for human use constitutes only a tiny fraction of the Earth’s water supply.  However, modern buildings are characterized by one-way flows of material resources including water. 

The Living Machine is an ecologically engineered system that combines elements of conventional wastewater technology with the purification processes of wetland ecosystems to treat the building’s wastewater and then recycle it within the building.

The AJLC is designed to mimic the internalized cycling of water that takes place in the natural world.  The system recycles approximately 70% of the building's water use. 

Two Living Machine water tanks
Photo credit: Olivia Booth-Howe '20

Designed by John Todd, the system removes organic waste, nutrients, and pathogens harmful to human and environmental health if discharged. 

Water purified by the Living Machine is reused in the building’s toilets and landscape.

A team of student operators maintains and monitors the ecological performance of the Living Machine.