Catching up with D-Build

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Patchwork went to scope out the disassembled Hafner’s Barn at the corner of Taft Rd. and Buckley Rd. that was deconstructed by Buffalo Reuse. They have pallets, and pallets, and pallets of deconstructed building materials that are up for sale if you are interested. To get a better look at what is available go to D-Build’s website. These guys have some really beautiful material out there and it’s just waiting for a new owner to bring it home and create something out of it. I know that’s exactly what we’re doing here at Patchwork! We bought about 55 linear board feet of red oak hardwood and it has the most beautiful patina and historical features to it (old sawmill circular saw textures). Very soon it will be cut down and used on a 5’x5′ table along with some steel we managed to salvage from the demolition/deconstruction of the Manley Field House on Syracuse Campus.

If you know anyone that might be interested in a DIY project or any other project that could potentially reuse harvested wood from this barn, please contact the guys at D-Build


syracuse’s vacant building problem

“Her 5-year-old son accidentally started the fire at 426 Rich St., Syracuse, with a lighter as Baker watched helplessly from a neighbor’s yard. Her 13-year-old son tried to douse the fire with a bucket of water, but it spread too quickly, according to a fire department report. Both boys made it out safely.

The house didn’t fare as well. It instantly joined a list of more than 1,600 vacant structures in Syracuse.

The city’s demolition inspector said there’s no one reason a house becomes vacant. “Every house has a story,” Ted Koagel said.

Some are abandoned after fires, broken dreams or bad investments. Others have owners who died with no one left to take over. Some languish after being neglected by absentee owners.

The city spends about $1 million — all in city taxpayer money — to raze about 80 homes a year like 426 Rich St. Non-profits and private homeowners also do about 20 to 30 demolitions, Koagel said.

But demolition can take years and countless hours by lawyers, city workers, a Supreme Court judge and private contractors. A vacant house must undergo checks for ownership, asbestos and historic significance, among other hurdles.

Nearly $500,000 in federal stimulus money has also paid for 23 demolitions in the past year. About $100,000 of that went toward tearing down a North State Street building this spring that crumbled onto Interstate 81, closing the highway and frustrating 50,000 commuters for weeks. The state eventually picked up most of the $467,000 tab.

See a list of all demolitions budgeted in the past year in Syracuse. (Note: Some dollar figures are estimates. The last category includes stimulus money given to non-profits, such as Home Headquarters Inc., for demolitions.)

Homeowners are charged for the demolition, but less than 10 percent ever pay, officials said. Some of the bills are sent to homeowners who have since died or to corporations that no longer exist.”

excerpt taken from an article written by Douglass Dowty who writes for the Post Standard, pub. july 14, 2010

read the full article here.

Syracuse has a growing vacant building syndrome- with each new abandoned building providing a new story into how owners can allow such beautiful homes to sit there as if freezing them in time. Some landlords just don’t understand that houses are like anything in life, if you don’t properly maintain them, they will slowly deteriorate and decay- physically and fiscally.

Over 1,600 homes (and counting according to this article) lie abandoned, vacant, and in a state of decay.  Now take a minute to think how many forests, factories, energy, time, labor, and money that originally went into making these homes that were, at one point in time, brand new fully viable shelters for a family(ies) to live in. Now visualize all of the money (from taxpayers like you), time, labor, and energy it will require to demolish these built structures just to see the material end up as C&D waste on its way to any number of C&D landfills. Let’s not even mention the newly voided lots primed for yet another cycle/round of manufacturing, energy & resource use! This is just criminal- it’s a crime to humanity, it’s a crime against nature, and it’s a crime to those who could use this C&D material to revitalize their own property saving it from the place where these 1,600 homes will soon end up (the landfill).

What if we harvested and reused only a small fraction of these homes’ building material to patch the rest of the homes to save them from their current destined resting place (C&D landfills), and save the tax payers money and create a few jobs in the mean time?

The Patchwork Collective was pretty happy to see this article published on the front page of the Post Standard- giving the issue a fair amount of focus. We were especially happy to see this urban blight story framed in a “glass half-empty or glass half-full” perspective. This problem we see in Syracuse is characteristic of what we can see happening in many post-industrial, rustbelt cities now. It requires decisive, responsible, and reactive thinking on our policy-makers parts, as well as a can-do attitude to implement and execute thoughtful urban renewal strategies. It requires a solution that is derived from outside the box thinking. It requires connecting the constellation of dots that aren’t yet connected.

These homes/buildings that are being demolished/deconstructed are only inflating our waste disposal capacities, leaving behind them vacant spaces within the fabric of our city. Lets minimize this problem by sustainably, and efficiently creating a strategic deconstruction plan so that the material coming from these abandoned structures can be reinvested back into our communities to the fullest effect. Let’s try our best to avoid giving Syracuse a smile with missing teeth.

Oakland Ave. light-skim-thru

Today Patchwork met up with Greg Wright who does a great service for Habitat for Humanity’s Restore in Syracuse, NY. We met with him in the morning to finish “skimming-through” one of the last remaining houses on Oakland Ave. near ESF’s campus. To those of you who have heard, (and those of you who haven’t) the demise of this series of homes was quite controversial. Wanting to expand its living quarter capacity, ESF was faced with a very tough decision over how to take down this street of homes to make room for its planned expansion. We’re sure it was only after much deliberation and calculation that it was decided in the end it would be more “economical” to just bulldoze the properties after a light skim through allowed ReStore and other organizations to come in and salvage a minimal amount of materials. The amount of “old-growth” lumber in these properties that will now go to waste is said to be at quite a large amount (which was an extra punch-in-the-gut for proponents like us of reuse, deconstruction, historical values).

We’re happy to have taken part in the minimal amount of work that was able to have been done on this last house of Oakland Ave. Thanks Greg and Dr. John Felleman for the experience. Hope everyone has a great July 4th holiday!

update from the sandbox.

Things here at Patchwork Collective are starting to pick up very quickly- we’re getting new jobs, and working on streamlining our internal operations. As with any start-up business, there are certain walls you’ll run into that are simply stepping stones in the right direction. We can’t wait to see where we end up come August/September (post-sandbox experience).

We’re currently working on adding some of the projects we’ve been designing/building to our website so that everyone can see the great things under development. They’re really exciting projects, so we’d like everyone to have a chance to see them. [ bikeracks, building facade renov.’s, benches, patio furniture, landscaping, you name it]

The Student Sandbox @ the Syracuse Technology Garden has been a great resource available at our finger tips. We have really been fortunate to have met so many people in just a small amount of time to start connecting the dots in our network. We’re so excited at the speed and amount of excitement in which people have embraced the ideals of Patchwork thus far. So, thanks everyone. We’re already starting to see the fruits of our labor fall into place.

case study: Brantford, Ontario

This is a great article on the perpetual battle of what to do with old buildings that stand in the way of progress and revitalization.

Such a waste.

The Sandbox Grand Opening Ceremony and more!

New Developments:

1. If you’re interested there will be an open house at the Syracuse Student Sandbox this friday afternoon where the grand opening ceremony will be held. Come to see other great new start-ups and ideas floating around here if you have time.

2. The new Syracuse Student Sandbox website is up and running. Have a look-see!!!

For all of those curious individuals out there, we now have a few projects in the works- we’ll try and get a page of our projects up and running ASAP.

In the meantime, USA! USA! USA!

shaver bros. scrap barn

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My colleague Jimmy and I took a trip out to the Shaver Bros. scrap barn/yard this week and it was truly amazing. It was great to see someone putting such value into these often overlooked things people throw away. The variety of things that this place has been collecting over the years was great to see and it’s always good make a note of what kinds of materials he had for future projects. We are anticipating using him for several smaller scaled projects that have been coming in recently.

Keep up the great work Shaver Bros! The yard visit was great.

30 second pitch.

this video is our visionary concept that we released at Syracuse Technology Garden’s Emerging Talks back in April.

currently constructing our new wordpress website– hopefully it will be up and running soon!