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Scene In Detroit: Reclaim Rather Than Abandon

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(Photo: Amelia Kanan) Deconstructing old buildings and re-selling the materials is the newest wave of green building.

(Photo: Amelia Kanan) Deconstructing old buildings and re-selling the materials is the newest wave of green building.

By Amelia Kanan, CBS Detroit Blogger

I’ve been working on a story for a local publication and during my research, I grew quite attached to a semi-new wave of green building techniques: Deconstruction is the name and rebuilding is the game.

Owners of unwanted properties have a choice: they can pay someone to demolish it and pay to throw everything away or pay someone to deconstruct it and reuse the materials. Most of Detroit’s homes and buildings were built in an era when quality materials were used in the construction, as opposed to today’s standards. They used oak instead of pine and brass instead of plastic or thin metal.

Not to mention, there was detail in the moldings, doors, vent covers and tiles. Sure, a structure could be unlivable due to decades of neglect but why should salvageable, beautiful materials be thrown into a landfill?

Unfortunaly, as of right now, it’s a little cheaper to have a house demolished, but it is the goal of deconstructors to get the costs down and make it just as cheap to deconstruct.

Reclaim Detroit is a prime example of how well this deconstruction business can work. Reclaim Detroit deconstructed a house in Hamtramck. This created an inventory of building goods for the organization. Before Great Lakes Coffee Co. began to build their space they called up the deconstruction professionals and asked to see what they had in stock. Loving the salvaged wood, GLC Co. hired Reclaim for their counters, floors and ceiling work.

Since then, GLC Co. has opeend and received rave reviews on the design and look of their space…thanks to Reclaim Detroit.

Deconstruction isn’t just beneficial to builders and business owners but artists, designers and consumers of all kinds. Goods made from salvaged material are everywhere: Furniture stores, galleries, Pinterest and etsy. These DIY trends have created a consumer craze for items like housewares, art, spaces and accesories all made from old repurposed or recycled metals and wood. And who seems to be sitting ontop of this overwhelming pile of supplies? Why, it’s Detroit!

Amelia Kanan is freelance writer/photographer and a returning native of Detroit. A graduate of Columbia College in Chicago, she wrote for an Emmy nominated sketch comedy show and pursued her passion for documentary filmmaking in Los Angeles. An incomplete list of her loves: books, human rights, improv, the smell of new shoes, talking to strangers, libraries, France, yoga, furniture, music, sociology and pushing the limits.

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