Salvaged materials tell a building’s best stories

Read the full post at Living Building Chronicle.

Until recently, my favorite salvaged material story was personal.

As an active member of Georgia Tech’s Alumni Association, I got word in 2016 that a work crew had removed four joists during renovation of the campus’ iconic Tech Tower. The joists were original heart pine from the building’s 1880s construction. So, I sought permission to pick them up.

I brought the 12-foot-long pieces of historic lumber home to my garage workshop. There had to be some way I could repurpose them.

It was just six days before the association’s annual Gold & White Gala, which includes a silent auction. So my wife, Angela, and I came up with an idea: Why not turn the joists into distinctive frames for Georgia Tech diplomas?

The four frames I made were a hit at the auction. Ever since, just before the annual event, I’ve trimmed away at my treasured stash to make more of those diploma frames. They’ve now raised more than $6,500 for the association. They’ve provided dozens of alumni with a tangible connection to our alma mater.

It turns out that Georgia Tech saw the value in 70 more joists that were pulled out for the renovation. The Institute placed them in storage. I didn’t realize then that those remaining joists would come back into my life and provide a nifty twist to the story.

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