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Deconstructing "deconstruction"

Posted: Sun, Feb 12, 2012 8:13 PM
Crews from Bruening Rock Products at work at the Wapsie Produce building

Two Decorah buildings--the former Wapsie Produce plant and the Caretaker's House--are being removed this month.

But don't call the process "demolition."  Instead, crews are painstakingly taking apart the buildings in a process called "deconstruction."  "Deconstruction" is the careful removal and reuse or recycling of building materials.

A Dubuque company, TSC Construction, is handling both projects, with assistance from crews from Bruening Construction.  Linus Lechtenberg from Bruening's says crews have been doing "a lot of sorting."  That's typical of deconstruction techniques, where materials can be stored and reused on the existing site thus eliminating the charges for taking the material to the landfill.

In the case of the Caretaker's House, it is estimated that 80 to 90 percent of the materials will be kept out of the landfill.  In the case of the Wapsie Produce plant, Lechtenberg says the steel has been removed and will be sold.  Cement used in the building has also been sorted--and will be crushed once the building structure is removed, then laid down across the building's foundation.

The work being done by the crews is typical of deconstruction projects--removals of buildings with an eye towards retaining as much of the useable materials as possible.

Crew members from TSC Construction at work at Wapsie Produce