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Passing Permanence: Reversible Building Practices in the U.S.

Buildings are not permanent. The current lack of life-cycle design and expectation for buildings to last indefinitely leads to a loss of “technical nutrient” potential. Sustainability, as the ability to maintain a process over time, can be achieved through the reduction of waste, the continued reuse of materials and the support of their longevity. To recapture the potential of a building and remove the ecologically harmful effects of permanence that occur after the building is no longer needed, the production, construction, use and demolition of architecture should ‘leave minimal trace’ on its building materials and site.
Architecture should not be destructive. An architecture that leaves minimal trace does not have to employ highly engineered componentry and new modular solutions that restrict design outcomes, but rather can modify existing techniques and tectonic understandings to remove wasteful practices that intentionally degrade or destroy material resources. Minimal trace architecture simultaneously upholds the health of its materiality through the redefinition of connection types while supporting its site and larger context through the removal of systemic inefficiencies and unnecessary permanently-intended change.
To investigate the applicability and feasibility of minimal-trace architecture, the project attempts to reimagine recent permanently-intended constructions as temporary buildings capable of fully yielding any-to-all materials during deconstruction for reuse. The focus of the investigation will be on designing new ways of component connection that allows for reversible construction with existing standardize materials, designing the relationship between the built form and the Earth to minimize ecological damage, and designing new forms of integration between the building and existing local infrastructure that allows for the temporary existence of a building and its program.








Aaron Baldwin

Aaron is now a master’s student at Lawrence Tech, to be completed in the summer of 2023. His studies have influenced his focus on sustainable design, and how architecture must become less wasteful. Aaron also completed his undergraduate degree at Lawrence Tech, and spent time as president of the local AIAS chapter, where he used the leadership opportunity to empower architecture students both inside and outside the classroom. Aaron is currently working full time at Studio Detroit Architects as an architectural designer. In the future, he hopes to incorporate his studies and sustainable background into his professional practice in order to address the negative impact architecture has on the environment.

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