Images for July 23, 2009: Recycled building materials: Bonus or Bogus?

In this session, conversations with architects and designers involved in the evolving world of recycled, re-used, reclaimed and re-purposed building materials. Our first guest was Professor Michael Cockram, University of Oregon - a specialist in re-use of salvaged building materials. His experience includes involvement with the Associazione Canova, where American students help restore a medieval village, learning traditional stone masonry. At left, a view of Canova, located in Piemonte, north of Milan, Italy.

Professor Cockram's experience also includes having worked with Fay Jones, whose iconic chapel (left) recalls the Organic Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright.

The structure described by Professor Cockram, and which was constructed by his students uses salvaged electrical conduit as tension members.

Our next group of guests included Joe Pepe, of M Fine Lumber, located in Brooklyn. Here is a view of their yard, showing graded and stacked heritage timbers.

From sculptor Hector Ducci and
builder Gennaro Brooks-Church
(347 244 3016)
we learned about the amazing rot-resistant qualities of the North American black locust tree as an alternative to using pressure-treated timbers.
An amazing material to avoid the use of toxic chemicals and creosote for timbers near or in contact with the ground.
Here's a view of black locust flowers!

Last, we touched briefly on the sustainability and future availability of quality historic timbers from demolished buildings - for the more older buildings are destroyed (albeit, with the potential to have their timbers, fittings and fixtures salvaged and lovingly re-purposed), the historic nature and scale of our neighborhoods is threatened. Case in point is this lovely circa 1906 farm house in coastal Connecticut that I renovated and enlarged that was bought by a tear-down specialist and replaced with a "Baby Hughie" monstrosity, simply because the property could bear a large footprint building.

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