Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Reuse Case Study -- A Chicago Garage, by Hampton Avery Architects

Hampton Avery Architects ( designed a new two-car garage for client Annie Coleman to replace an old existing wood-framed garage. The garage was conceived as an opportunity to create much-needed open space on a tight site – a rooftop garden and deck would add a backyard that never existed… only now 10 feet in the air. And it’s also a showcase for reclaimed and repurposed materials and components.

Concrete chunks from the old garage slab were used by local nonprof Urban Habitat Chicago ( to form the bases of earth berms on several landscape projects, which help define space and give visual interest, allow for dense plantings, and introduce enhanced accessibility features for individuals with limited mobility.

All framing members on the ‘new’ garage were repurposed from a previously deconstructed warehouse building and they even found roof joists on Craigslist. Rather than have their structural engineers at Louis Shell Structures (, crank out a boilerplate design for walls and a roof to support a rooftop garden, theydesigned specifically around reclaimed materials, an approach somewhat unique and slightly more time-consuming.

For the walls, they calculated they could actually rip the old 2x10 joists in half to yield two 2x5 studs. Using the framing elevations produced by the architect, general contractor Derek Ottens of Green Cross LLC ( marked individual pieces to make the framer's job easier during cutting and then erecting the walls.

The exterior of the garage is finished with Hardie Board, a post-consumer material that uses sawdust, a rainscreen cladding of reclaimed cypress with flamed finish, and galvanized aluminum security grilles (the last two bought from the ReBuilding Exchange!) that will form trellises for the ‘green combover’ – trailing deciduous plants from the rooftop garden.

It’s a modest project that took some time and effort to coordinate, but came in on-budget, is an example of an integrated approach to design, engineering, and construction, and closes the gaps in the cycles of the life of materials by employing reclaimed and repurposed materials.

Learn and see more at

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Reuse Project -- Bench/Storage Compartments for Elementary School

Another neat project from our friend and customer, Charlie Vinz. He made this bench from reclaimed lumber for an elementary school his architecture firm is designing.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Look what you can do with old shower doors!

The Delta Institute commissioned the making of this signage, with the vision that they be made from some material from the ReBuilding Exchange. Kevin, our sign maker from Monobrow Studios, found a bunch of old shower doors in the plumbing room and voila!

Reuse Project -- Picture Frames

One of our customers, raun meyn, makes these awesome custom frames out of our scrap trim.