Our initiative began in 2009, with an invitation to a meeting of municipal development agencies, engineers, and city planners, seeking more sustainable strategies for a major redevelopment project in Savannah, Georgia.
After discussing various sustainable construction and building strategies, our soon-to-be founder suggested that an innovative deconstruction project would be consistent with the historical character of the city, provide job training opportunities for underemployed residents, build trust in the community being impacted by the redevelopment, and generate unexpected economic vitality by providing materials and inspiration to the local craft and design communities.
Over the course of that ensuing first year, a group of designers, preservationists, artists and activists enacted a series of inclusive ‘harvest’ events that were coordinated in conjunction with CHSA Development Inc., (the property owner and master developer), Thomas & Hutton (the lead engineers), NorSouth Management, and the City of Savannah Housing Department. These events captured the public’s attention, and convinced construction and demolition (C+D) experts that there was value in engaging in waste-to-wealth experimentation and innovation. The rigorous planning and creative promotion of these events consolidated into the non-profit organization Emergent Structures.
Since that time, Emergent Structures collaborated with Thomas & Hutton and NorSouth on various projects, including reclamation events, on-site re-use applications for new flooring, new ceiling trusses and new furniture, carpenter apprentice training, community workshops, and even public art.
This work (some of which can be found in our project gallery), has led to a framework for increasing material reclamation from large-scale redevelopment projects through a process of advanced planning, highly collaborative partnerships, and innovative design solutions that bring value to all stakeholders.
An expression of sincere gratitude must be conveyed to Michael Hughes, Project Manager for Thomas & Hutton, and Brian Quigley, Project Manager for NorSouth Construction. In a time when the construction industry was contracting, and companies throughout the country became risk adverse, these 2 gentlemen were always willing to step boldly forward to experiment with new ideas in deconstruction, material reclamation, and material re-use. Without their commitment in difficult times, and on tight budgets and deadlines, very little would have been accomplished.
It must also be said that the Savannah Gardens redevelopment—thanks to master developers CHSA Development and the City of Savannah Housing Authority—is an exceptional example of sustainable redevelopment, possessing numerous sustainable aspects above and beyond material reclamation, which includes Earthcraft certification for all single family homes, retaining a significant number of mature trees, and low-impact development practices. In fact, Savannah Gardens is on track to become an EarthCraft Coastal Community certified development for its “green” site and building design.
We are proud to have played a small role in supporting this endeavor