Page B1.1 . 29 May 2002                     
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    Rewards of Unbuilding

    by Michael Cockram

    There is a rich and increasingly available source of building materials that can't be found in manufacturers' catalogs or in the advertisements of glossy magazines. Embedded in buildings that were crafted in earlier centuries is a wealth of structural and finish materials. And when these buildings are beyond refurbishing, they can be deconstructed and their materials made available to architects for new projects.

    The quality of the wood in these old buildings is often substantially higher than what is available from today's depleted forests. Heavy timber, which is now rare and expensive, was once used routinely in older, stoutly built structures.

    In the Pacific Northwest of the United States, seemingly endless stands of virgin forests were once felled for common studs and sheathing. The straight-grained lumber now being salvaged from humble residences built before the 1950s can often be used for clear trim stock.

    To take advantage of this rich source of wood, the nonprofit Rebuilding Center in Portland, Oregon has grown in just four years from an idea about salvaging building waste to a burgeoning enterprise with 36 employees. It boasts a full lumberyard with 70,000 square feet (6500 square meters) of exterior storage and a 24,000-square-foot (2200-square-meter) warehouse displaying plethora of building components of every vintage.   >>>

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    Heavy timbers salvaged from a grain mill in Amity, Oregon.
    Photo: The ReBuilding Center

    ArchWeek Image

    A lumberyard of salvaged material on the site of the old mill.
    Photo: The ReBuilding Center

     

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