Constructed entirely out of reclaimed lumber dating back more than one hundred years, BoardWalk is a project that aims to consider the past, present, and future lifecycles of its materials. Designed as part of the 2022 Bethel Woods Art and Architecture Festival, the project is a multifunctional destination serving as an informal gathering space, temporary stage, and viewing platform while overlooking the historic grounds of the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival. Composed of only recycled nylon strapping and reclaimed wood members, the 40-foot-long installation uses no glues, adhesives, or mechanical fasteners with the intention that the structure can be disassembled, moved, and reused over and over again with ease.
BoardWalk is part of a larger ongoing effort to reduce waste in the built environment. In late 2021, the team was approached by a client with the hopes of developing strategies to maximize material reuse through the disassembly (as opposed to demolition) of a former ironworks and foundry building in central New York. Working with local contractors to develop methods for disassembling the four-story structure led to the recovery of 7,200 board feet of old-growth eastern hemlock and 6,000 sq. ft of red oak flooring that was diverted from the waste stream. Once disassembled, individual materials were cataloged, sorted, and inventoried for evaluation of future use potential.
Given the unique nature of each individual material object, BoardWalk utilized digital scans of each recovered piece of material to design around found anomalies such as existing knots in the lumber or embedded nails from the lumber's previous life. The design of the project employs a series of initial cuts to separate nail-populated areas of the material from otherwise 'clean' areas. Following the initial separation of materials, a series of 8 unique wood joinery connections were prototyped and produced using CNC fabrication to assure accuracy and tolerance. As a result, each new component was then prefabricated off-site and test fit for ease of assembly before being packed and transported to Bethel, NY ahead of the festival opening.
Once onsite a series of reversible nylon strapping connections are used to further stabilize critical connection points throughout the project while simultaneously offering hammock-like surfaces offering playful moments designed for leisure throughout the project. The result is a seemingly floating compilation of materials that appears delicate in assembly yet massive in scale. Newly processed areas of each element juxtapose the old aging surface characteristics of the eastern hemlock wood based on one's orientation bringing into question whether the project is something new or still a relic of the past.
Ultimately assembled as a series of dry-fit layers, BoardWalk is to be understood as only a temporary moment in time. With the ability to be as easily and quickly dismantled as it was put together, BoardWalk offers each of its elements yet another lifecycle opportunity beyond their present one.