Four Architects Pick Their Favorite New-Old Products

Architect Magazine | April 16, 2013

If sustainable design had an attractive spokesmodel, it would be reclaimed materials. Besides conserving resources and reducing waste, they give projects the patina of a past life. Four architects name salvaged products that provide all of the above and more.

Massaranduba Wood tiles, Bison Innovative Products

For its LEED Platinum–rated office in Atlanta, Perkins+Will deconstructed and cataloged everything in the former 1980s office building from wood paneling to carpets, distributing 125,000 pounds of materials to nonprofits. The firm did repurpose some items, such as cherry baseboards that became conference tables. For Paula Burns McEvoy, AIA, co-director of sustainable design, one commercially available product stood out as her favorite: Massaranduba, an FSC-certified wood tile made with pre-consumer manufacturing remnants that installs like carpet tile. “You lay them on top of a raised flooring system,” she says. “You don’t have to go [through] the waste of using big pieces of lumber.” The tiles, which look like teak, are successfully enduring the office’s heavy traffic.

Pozzotive Concrete Masonry Units, Kingston Block & Masonry Supply

For the 2012 Hegeman supportive housing project in Brooklyn, N.Y., Cookfox Architects upped its practice of specifying concrete with high-recycled content by using Pozzotive, a concrete block manufactured with recycled glass. Cookfox partner Rick Cook, FAIA, says that Kingston had contacted fellow partner and firm co-founder Robert Fox Jr., AIA, about making green concrete block. “Bob said, ‘You need to find somebody else’s waste.’ ” As it happened, the city has an abundance of waste glass, prompting Kingston to create Pozzotive. The glass, which is ground into a powder, comprises about 30 percent of the CMUs. The Hegeman residence uses Pozzotive in its structural system, courtyard, and green roof, and as a permeable paver—the first project to do so.

Cypress Sinker Logs, Krantz Recovered Woods

Set for completion in 2014, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach, Va., will feature wood siding made from sinker cypress logs sourced through Krantz Recovered Woods. Because the old-growth logs have been sitting at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico for 150 years, they have a high concentration of cypressene, a natural chemical resin that resists rot but takes several decades to form. Cypress wood found on the market today lacks cypressene, says Greg Mella, AIA, co-leader of sustainable design initiatives at SmithGroupJJR. The sinker logs have “the patina of aged hardwood.” Locating them required thorough research and work. “Being connected to the local demolition industry makes a difference,” Mella says.

Varia Ecoresin panels, 3Form

The Land’s End Lookout in San Francisco’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area has reclaimed materials in the visitors center, café, and gift shop. “The building is designed to be a storyteller,” EHDD associate Phoebe Schenker, AIA, says. “[T]hese materials … have their own story.” For decorative screens in the café, EHDD turned to 3Form’s Varia Ecoresin panels—specifically, Color Weave in translucent blue. The project uses two panels refurbished from other 3Form projects. Varia Ecoresin panels are Greenguard certified for indoor air quality and 40 times stronger than glass. The visitors center also uses redwood planks, salvaged by North Cal Lumber from a decommissioned sawmill, and mulch from oyster shells found on the site, which formerly housed a seafood restaurant.

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