I get a kick out of those holiday letters (more like year-end bulletins) that people send out in December and January. They invariably herald astonishingly, enviably good news ("Sally was promoted to senior VP… Ralph became engaged to a partner in his law firm… pet pig Clementine gave birth to six of the cutest babies ever.").
People frequently send me news items on deconstruction and reuse-related topics. One recent article from The New York Times features the late sculptor J.B. Blunk and the home he built entirely of salvaged materials in the rural Marin County town of Inverness, California. Blunk, who started his artistic career as a potter before shifting to primarily wood, favored "found" materials, such as beached logs or discarded lumber from construction sites. Redwood was Blunk's favorite medium, not only for his hand-crafted home, but for the large "seating sculptures" that became his trademark.
Years ago, in order to keep abreast of news dealing with deconstruction, building-materials salvage, adaptive reuse and historic preservation, I subscribed to several Google alerts, one of which was "deconstruction." Almost immediately, I started receiving links to content dealing with the term deconstruction as used in contemporary philosophy and social science — a usage popularized by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida.
The community public library is such a core institution, I've always pictured it inhabiting a niche of its own. I certainly never saw it as a hub of reuse. But, you know what? That's exactly what it is. Libraries have been in the book reuse business literally for centuries. And most have added e-books and audio versions to the mix.
By Ted Reiff
This month I will be in Austin, presenting at the 2016 summer conference of the local chapter of The American Institute of Architects (AIA). As you might expect, I'll be talking about deconstruction and its relationship to reuse, adaptive reuse and historic preservation.
Without proper documentation, locating the historic materials salvaged from demolition/deconstruction projects can be a real shell game. Too often, it seems, artifacts are tucked away, out of sight, out of mind, subject to gradual decay and eventual loss.
Sensible Solutions for Abandoned Homes By Ted Reiff
This week I began teaching a TRP 14-day class for would-be deconstruction workers in Freeport, Illinois, a small town (population 25,000) just west of Rockford and adjacent to the picturesque Pecatonica River. Like many towns in the U.S., Freeport has a sizable backlog of abandoned houses slated for demolition. The trainees spend three days in the classroom and the remainder deconstructing one of those houses. It's ideal on-the-job training.
By Ted Reiff
Since so much of our activity is focused on deconstruction and the salvage and distribution of used building materials, it follows that I have a special interest in how people put used materials to work. I'm always on the lookout for unusually innovative, functional or aesthetic projects.