School has started again and it has us thinking about recess (who doesn’t love recess?) and thereby the playscapes kids enjoy. We began asking what role wood has in these spaces which brought to the discussion a recent project at the Lilac Adventure Zone Playground. A “natural playground” in Highland Park in Rochester, NY by Barton & Loguidice, the space highlights found forms for play and modern pavilions for shelter.
There has been a surge in natural playgrounds [natural playscapes] which inherently focus on wood and the natural landscape. “Biophilic design, connecting with nature, was central to this playground project,” explained Tom Robinson, senior landscape architect, and LEED AP at Barton & Loguidice.
Biophilia. It’s a term that we’re hearing with regularity these days, and that’s exciting! From Edward Wilson’s “Biophilia” meaning ‘the rich, natural pleasure that comes from being surrounded by living organisms’. Research is conclusive that access to nature and nature-inspired spaces help reduce stress and illness. “We’re trying to recreate the experience of playing in the woods, in fields with rocks and sticks. The idea is to encourage exploration and free play with natural materials,” continued Tom.
Many young explorers and adventurers amidst the natural elements of Lilac Adventure Zone Playground.
The playground itself evolved as the natural materials arrived, trees, branches, rocks salvaged from other park project renovations. “The elements within the playground tend to change and morph as materials initially arrive, and as time passes and elements need to be removed/replaced.”
Author, Jonathan Orpin: founder and president of New Energy Works and Pioneer Millworks; board member and past president of the Timber Framers Guild, enjoys some time on the water.
For years I’ve resisted writing this post. It can come off as very self-serving. Please don’t let it. Instead, I’ll attempt to be as neutral-valued as I can, and share some of my 30-year history, and perhaps just a tad of the experiences, and sometimes frustrating stories, our clients have shared…and some that I have witnessed.
The timber frame industry has a great many good people in it, associated with it, and as I’ve often said, many of the coolest clients I can imagine. So first, think about a timber framer who is involved with the Timber Framers Guild. At our Guild conferences and our meet-ups, in the committee work we do, in the publications we create, two important things occur: we learn, and are better professionals because of it; we share, and our craft is better for it. In both cases you win.
Photo courtesy of the Timber Framers Guild.
And when you ask, “Is your company a member?” be sure to dig just bit deeper. Do you attend the conferences? Do you send your shop folk and your designers? Do you give, as well as receive?
Flanders Park bordering Raquette Pond in Tupper Lake, New York in the Adirondacks is in the process of being transformed into an inviting outdoor performance area. Our craftsmen created a performance bandshell using a combination of custom finished solid and glulam Douglas fir timbers which were raised and joined on May 31, 2018.
Timber frame champion and Guild member, Darren Watson, shares with us about the Timber Framers Guild Western Conference:
To say that Timberline Lodge is a good location for the Timber Framers Guild is akin to saying that the Grand Canyon is an attractive hole in the ground. Timberline Lodge, on Mount Hood, is the perfect location for this community of like-minded individuals and companies to come together and gain new knowledge from each other and from the wisdom of those that built this magnificent structure at the height of the Great Depression working for the WPA. Timberline Lodge was built scrappily using site sourced rocks and trees and reclaimed materials including telephone poles turned into carved newel posts on the stairs and fireplace andirons made from an old railroad track. As was said by The Builders of Timberline Lodge, Federal Writers’ Project, “Each workman on Timberline Lodge gained proficiency in manual arts. He was a better workman, a better citizen, progressing by infinitely slow steps to the degree above him.” So does the Guild, and these conferences, build each of us into better craftspeople.
Many of our coworkers joined the Timber Framers Guild annual Western Conference in May. From the left: Mike W, Eric, Michael H, Justin, Simon, Sean, Chuck, David, Mike R, Maxine, Jonathan O, Jonathan T, and Alexander (plus Darren (yep, that’d be me) behind the camera). Mike W, Sean, Jonathan, and I hosted different educational presentations during the conference.
“If you’ve never seen a timber frame made from longleaf southern yellow pine, then you really ought to,” Jonathan remarked, “the resins just glow.” Fascinating how one sentence can lead to numerous conversations, learning, and a search of our photo collection…
We commonly work with Kiln Dried Douglas fir, but big timbers, reclaimed timbers, have been near and dear to us since opening our doors over 30 years ago. The New Energy Works story started with a collapsed building and a new house crafted from timbers salvaged from that wreckage. Today we remain smitten with reclaimed timbers.
Getting team members to pose for a photo is much easier when they’re surrounded by big reclaimed timbers in our Farmington, NY or McMinnville OR yards.
As an additional option to kiln-dried Douglas fir, the antique timbers offer extra stability and can always be cut to size for any design/plans. Douglas fir and Heart Pine are our favored industrial reclaimed timber species–we always have them available thanks to our sister company, Pioneer Millworks.