The city’s economic development agency, St. Louis Development Corp., is testing an alternative process this year that deconstructs buildings piece by piece. The more expensive process is used to salvage materials as well as reduce health risks from dust and debris. City officials said it isn’t financially feasible to use “deconstruction” to remove all of St. Louis’ 12,000 vacant properties, but they hope to expand the 30-building pilot project in the future.
The City of St. Louis is ramping up demolition of vacant buildings on properties owned by the metro’s land bank, but some of them will undergo deconstruction instead. (Photo by Oscar Perry Abello)
As he gears up for the pilot project with the city, Schwarz says that Refab will tighten its hiring focus. “We’ll hire people from the neighborhoods where we do the deconstruction,” he says. “We’re going to take tax dollars and put them into the pockets of the residents who are affected by this activity in their neighborhood.”
Refab crews will dismantle the historic building and preserve its handmade bricks and timbers.
CREDIT LAURA GINN | SLDC
As part of the contract, Refab will disassemble a three-story brick warehouse built in 1884 in the Vandeventer neighborhood.Schwarz said the building was an “excellent candidate” for deconstruction, in part because its brick and timber have survived more than 100 years without being painted.“We were just shocked when we got into it for the first time that it was so well preserved,” he said.
An environmental collaborative aims to remove vacant properties, plans to salvage materials from 30 buildings in north St. Louis in 2019. Refab, a salvage yard in south St. Louis, is identifying buildings that qualify for deconstruction.
ELI CHEN | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO
“When you strategically disassemble a structure, there’s more opportunities to find and remediate environmental hazards,” Ginn said. “It would allow us to reduce the amount of waste we’re sending to landfills and you don’t have as much dust spreading through neighborhoods.”
We need your help to finish building out our shop in its new location. We share building space with Refab STL, an amazing non-profit providing skills training to former combat veterans by deconstructing old buildings in and around St. Louis. These materials are then processed and stored for resale in the historic 40,000 square foot building along Route 66, which houses Citizen Carpentry’s new workshop. Citizen Carpentry aims to be the first worker-owned woodworking co-operative of its kind in the Midwest, encouraging community members, artists, and entrepreneurs to utilize our shop for their work. We have the chance to be a hub of creative revitalization, recycling, and skill-sharing in a city sorely lacking in opportunities.
The Missouri Civil War Museum is housed in the renovated Post Exchange building in Jefferson Barracks Park.
In 2002, Mark Trout approached the county with his vision of renovating the old Post Exchange into a museum. Trout leased the building for $1 per year for the next 99 years. He and historian John Maurath believed so strongly in the project that they both left their jobs to be able to devote their energy to the renovation on a full-time basis.
Mark Trout (left) and John Maurath stand in the gymnasium of the Post Exchange building while it was undergoing renovations in 2009. file photo by Diana Linsley
The Discovery Channel is an animal I do not recognize anymore. I understand that sensationalism sells.
Based on the trailer for the new show Salvage City, it will be sensational. Not realistic, not educational, not safe – possibly not substantive in any way to the benefits of building material reuse. Salvage City looks sexy though. Everyone is good looking and hip, including the dog Hecktor.
On the flip side, The Building Material Reuse Association is neither sensational nor sexy.
At 20 years old it the country’s oldest and most knowledgeable organization on salvage, deconstruction, and building material reuse. The professionals and members that make up the BMRA are dedicated to transforming waste into jobs, creating beneficial economic and environmental opportunities, and closing the loop in this broken system.
Become a member of the Building Material Reuse Association – then sit back and watch Salvage City, with the satisfaction that you are the one actually changing the world for the better.
The Discovery Channel is premiering a new show based on Coffey’s adventures scavenging through St. Louis’ abandoned buildings called “Salvage City,” airing three back-to-back episodes at 10 a.m. Sunday, December 22.
Construction & Demolition Waste Panel
LEEDv4, Diversion Best Practices, and Deconstruction, Oh My!
The St. Louis Region and the Midwest are blessed with open space and low tipping fees, which means that it is easy to overlook where our generated residential and commercial waste ends up. Despite this, many contractors and owners are looking for ways to divert materials from our landfills – through reuse, recycling and smart planning. With support from St. Louis Jefferson Solid Waste Management, USGBC-Missouri Gateway recently conducted two small research projects to learn more about the C&D credits in the next version of the LEED Green Building Rating System (LEEDv4) and to study some of the more difficult to C&D materials to reuse and recycle.
Join us for a free educational panel on Construction & Demolition Materials hosted by USGBC-Missouri Gateway and the Associated General Contractors of St. Louis on the State of Construction & Demolition Recycling in St. Louis. The panel will include a discussion of the recent USGBC-Missouri Gateway research projects as well as two local case studies – one on opportunities for C&D diversion on a Washington University project and the second on Deconstruction as an alternative to demolition.
Here is a great article by Crafting a Green World on one of our favorite places – City Museum in St. Louis, MO!
Set in an old shoe factory in downtown St. Louis, the City Museum is a mind-altering, eye-opening, muscle-exerting experience. The City Museum is formed primarily from the detritus of the city of St. Louis, using salvaged tiles to cover the walls and floors in mosaics, salvaged gargoyles to spray water into the two-story indoor fountain, and two salvaged airplanes that are part of the outdoor jungle gym created with steel springs, iron walkways, an old trolley, and a giant ball pit. And yes, you get to climb all over it.
And it’s real, you know? I mean, you’re not going to fall to your death or anything, but it’s not all molded plastic and hand sanitizer, either. My six-year-old freaked out inside a twisty steel slinky that lets you climb from the first floor to the third, and since she was halfway up at the time, she had the decision to make of freaking out while climbing up or freaking out while climbing back down. I hurt my ankle a little performing the utterly mundane activity of walking down a step, but for the next two days it was my quads telling me all about all the climbing I had done. Just as with any good amusement park or playground, the element of danger is really only perceived, but nevertheless this DIY playscape is made of real objects, and just as in real life, you may bonk your head or skin your knee, and you simply brush yourself off and keep on playing.
The late Bob Cassilly is the artist/”serial entrepreneur” behind the City Museum (he also, probably not coincidentally, created my other favorite thing in St. Louis, Turtle Park). Anyway, he and his former wife bought the old St. Louis Shoe Factory for 69 cents a square foot and created the City Museum in it. Originally, it was a non-profit, and Cassilly’s wife was president of the board. Later, however, Cassilly insisted on buying the building back from the board to make it a for-profit enterprise, and his wife was forced out of the business and they divorced amid all kinds of scandal.
A lot of fuss has been made about the museum’s for-profit status, but I think the idea of a for-profit museum, as long as it doesn’t go all McDonald’s on the city, is fine. Cassilly was clearly a creative genius, and not only might a board of directors have stifled some of his artistic decisions (“You want to stick an old plane where?!!! And let people climb on it?!!!”), but the museum seems to have an ethical system that’s both eco-friendly and local, and hell, brilliant artists deserve to make good money. Tragically, Bob Cassilly was killed last year while working on his latest art installation/amusement park, Cementland. The City Museum’s raging success remains his testament, and its model could be valuably implemented in any city.
Seriously, any city could have a place like this. A place doesn’t have to be a slick, self-contained, sanitized Disney World of a park to attract families with children (and I say this even with my own impending trip to Disney World in mind!). The City Museum is firmly located in St. Louis. It’s MADE from St. Louis. It’s rough, it’s recycled, it’s salvaged, it’s real.
And it’s amazing.
ST. LOUIS • Basil Kincaid’s brother makes fun of him for collecting rusty paper clips he finds in the street. But rusty paper clips are only the beginning.
Kincaid, an artist, has taken to combing St. Louis alleyways, lots with abandoned buildings and construction sites for discarded pieces of wood, old bricks, pieces of slate and other items deemed no longer useful.
They’re useful to him.
He transforms the junked wood into canvases. He applies images composed from photographs he takes around the city. He blends dust from finely ground bricks, slate and Missouri limestone into polyurethane that he paints onto the wood.
“All of the materials come directly from the street,” said Kincaid, 25, who is producing his artwork at the Pulse Community Art Center, 2847 Cherokee Street, where another body of his work is now on display. “Everything is related to our environment, being St. Louis.”
The theme of his new work is reclamation.
“I take these images of dilapidated buildings and nice buildings as well — pictures from all different parts of St. Louis — and collage them together to build this new city, so that when the audience comes together … they see we all grow out of the same environment,” he explained. “The focus is really community-minded.”
Kincaid, who grew up in Rock Hill and graduated from Colorado College, has a deeper purpose as well. He wants other young African-Americans to have the opportunities he has had. To that end, he said, he mentors three children from the city and has a 19-year-old assistant who is studying art at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park.
“The grand, overarching theme of reclamation goes beyond just this body of artwork,” he said. “It provides an ability for people, and the kids I work with, to reclaim their own identities and understand themselves within the true beauty that we all love.”
Kincaid’s assistant, Roosevelt High graduate Monkuell Barnes, has been working with Kincaid for about a year. Before they met, Barnes wouldn’t have given an abandoned piece of wood a second look.
“I wouldn’t have found beauty in any of that,” Barnes said. “But it’s taught me that beauty can come out of anything, really. You can make beauty from the ugliest things.
“I think he’s focused in on a very, very huge issue that’s going on in urban society… and he’s doing it through his art.”