The Circular Construction Lab (CCL) in the Department of Architecture at Cornell AAP houses a design research program that advances the paradigm shift from linear material consumption towards a circular economy within an industrialized construction industry. At the intersection of architecture, engineering, material and computer science, as well as economics, the lab investigates new concepts, methods, and processes to (1) design and construct buildings as the material depots for future construction, and (2) activate the potential of the built environment as an 'urban mine' for today's construction. CCL understands architecture as part of a regenerative and restorative cycle and sees design as a vehicle that can advance this ambition with excellence in teaching and research. Through close collaborations with academic, industrial, and legislative/ political partners the lab ensures the relevance of its work and promotes the direct and full-scale implementation of research results towards a more sustainable, low/ no-carbon, circular construction industry.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation defines a circular economy as "a systemic approach to economic development designed to benefit businesses, society, and the environment. In contrast to the 'take-make-waste' linear model, a circular economy is regenerative by design and aims to gradually decouple growth from the consumption of finite resources." A circular construction industry requires a radical redefinition of how resources are managed within the construction industry and the built environment. Similar to warehousing, material stocks and flows of buildings, cities and regions must be kept track of and anticipated. The goal must be to inventory and document them, and communicate at the right time what materials will become available for reuse or recycling, in what quantities and qualities, where, and at what time in the future. The implications for the design and construction process, the supply and value chains within the construction industry, and data generation and management are significant and the focus of the Circular Construction Lab.
Demolition: An Exhibition on Salvage, Reuse and Deconstruction
As a part of the partner network CR0WD (Circularity, Reuse and Zero Waste Development), the Circular Construction Lab and the Just Places Lab are co-curating the exhibition Deconstructing
Demolition. The exhibition will be hosted from May 11 - September 3 2022 in the atrium of the Tompkins Center for History and Culture located at 110 N. Tioga St. in downtown Ithaca, New York.
The exhibition combining physical building materials with augmented reality and interactive visuals is intended to introduce a general audience to the negative externalities of extant demolition practices and provide information on alternatives in the form of salvage, reuse and deconstruction. Alternatives to demolition are presented through the lenses of environmental sustainability, preservation of community value, employment opportunity, and a reimagining our relationship to the built environment.
As part of the collective effort to put on the exhibition, members of the Circular Construction Lab captured materials and video, conducted research and calculated environmental impacts, as well as curated and built the exhibition. Credits for the exhibition go to Cornell Circular Construction Lab (Felix Heisel, Allexxus Farley-Thomas, Andrew Boghossian, Melody Chen, Joseph McGranahan), Cornell Just Places Lab (Jennifer Minner, Wyeth Augustine-Marceil, Wen He), Susan Christopherson Center for Community Planning (Gretchen Worth), Historic Ithaca, Significant Elements (Susan Holland, Christine O’Malley), Finger Lakes ReUse (Diane Cohen), Contento Recycling (Anthony Contento). Thank you to generous support from the David M. Einhorn Center for Community Engagement, the Clarence S. Stein Institute for Urban and Landscape and the Cornell Department of City and Regional Planning and Fred Cowett and Diana Reisman.