Tag: IIT

AIA Members Eligible for CEUs at Urban Wood Event

ILWUT_LogoMembers of the A&D community can earn continuing education units (CEUS) by attending the Bringing the Urban Forest Full Circle Conference, Friday, March 18 at Hamburger University.

The credits are being offered to members of the American Institute of Architects through special arrangement with the Illinois Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.

Architects and designers attending the program will learn about the unique appeal of converting community trees into lumber used for furniture, cabinets, flooring and other wood products and building materials.

Among the many conference highlights:

  • Laureen Blissard, architect and principal of LTLB Envirotecture will present “Green Building Programs & Urban Wood.”
  • Paul Pettigrew, architect and associate professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, will present “Urban Wood’s Journey from Forest to Classroom, Museum, Gallery, Auction & Home.”
  • Jeff Perkis is Owner of Story Wood, a custom woodworking business, and Senior Project Manager of Chipman Architecture Design, will present “Out of the Woods: How West Chicago Repurposed Storm-Damaged Urban Trees.”
  • Presentations on successful urban wood partnerships in Chicago, Ann Arbor, MI; and Milwaukee, WI.
  • Overview of the urban wood market and its source local/buy local appeal.
  • Urban Wood Products Showcase featuring displays of cool stuff made from urban wood.
  • Portable sawmill demonstration hatches the inner beauty of a tree.
  • Plenty of networking opportunities, including a Networking reception featuring table top exhibits at the end of the program.

The conference is presented by the Illinois Wood Utilization Team.

View the full schedule and register.

For additional information, contract Rich Christianson, Conference Director, at richc.illinoisurbanwood@gmail.com or 773-822-6750.


Photo Gallery: IIT Student Urban Wood Works

More than one dozen students at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) spent their summer designing and crafting one-of-a-kind furniture and artistic objects using urban wood.

The vast majority the students taking Associate Professor Paul Pettigrew’s popular Architecture & Furniture course had no or limited-at-best experience operating woodworking tools. Their classroom assignment was to take their concepts from sketches, drawings and digital models through physical models, full-scale mock-ups and completed prototypes.

Pettigrew, a professional architect by trade, is amid instructing a Furniture & Architecture course this fall and has another scheduled for next spring. His goal is to feature the student hand-crafted urban wood pieces in a traveling exhibit next year.

Check out some of the student works resulting from the summer session:



IIT Student Urban Wood Works at Aug. 26 Showing

urban wood, IIT

A student of the IIT Architecture & Furniture course discusses her urban wood project in an interview with Out of the Loop.

One-of-a-kind Furniture and functional objects fabricated from urban wood by students at the Illinois Institute of Technology will be undergo expert review 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 26 at S.R. Crown Hall on the IIT campus.

Guest architects and furniture makers will conduct the review which concludes the summer session of IIT’s popular Architecture & Furniture course taught by Paul Pettigrew, studio associate professor at IIT. Pettigrew said the exhibition will feature some 14 “thought-provoking and creative projects utilizing the urban wood provided to us this summer” by the Illinois Wood Utilization Team.

Students of the summer Architecture & Furniture course took their concepts from sketches, drawings and digital models through physical models, full-scale mock-ups and completed prototypes. The students’ conversions of urban wood lumber into finished projects was featured last month on Out of the Loop, an online radio affiliate of WGN.

Crown Hall is located at 3360 S. State Street in Chicago. For more information, contact Pettigrew at Pettigrew@iit.edu.


Urban Wood Makes Waves on Chicago Radio

By Rich Christianson

Illinois’ growing urban wood movement recently made a splash when Out of the Loop, an online radio affiliate of WGN, recorded a segment about students using urban wood to make furniture at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).

Out of the Loop host Mike Stephen interviewed Paul Pettigrew, an associate professor of architecture at IIT, and Edith Makra, chairman of the Illinois Wood Utilization Team.

Recorded amid the din of a roaring dust collector and whirring woodworking machinery, Pettigrew explained why he chooses to have students of his popular Architecture & Furniture course use locally sourced urban wood to fabricate furniture and other functional objects.

“As students have become more aware of green and sustainable issues they become much more aware of actually where the material is coming from,” Pettigrew said. He added that the urban wood donated by the West Chicago Park District for his summer class embraces sustainability in giving wood milled from dead or dying trees a second life.

Makra said the mission of the Illinois Wood Utilization Team is to develop a viable and sustainable market place for urban wood.

“We want to do something with this material that is overlooked and wasted and we want to keep alive and foster that connection that people have with trees,” Makra said. “We are trying to change the traditional cycle of a tree dies and gets chipped or mulched into being harvested, milled and turned into a value added wood product.”

Pettigrew said the student projects from his summer course, as well as those he plans for his students to make this fall and next spring, will likely culminate in a traveling exhibit to educate consumers and kids about the potential and benefits of urban wood.

Click here to listen to the entire podcast. The urban wood segment begins at the six-minute mark.

IIT Seeks Urban Wood Donations for Traveling Exhibit

The Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) needs wood – preferably sourced from Illinois’ extensive urban forest – for its upcoming Architecture & Furniture courses scheduled for this Summer and Fall and Spring 2016. Each course will culminate with the students’ works displayed in a public exhibition to educate kids and adults about the benefits of value-added urban wood.


The greatest urgency is finding a supply of lumber for the summer course, said IIT Associate Professor Paul Pettigrew. He has taught IIT students about the design and fabrication of custom furniture since 2006. “Ideally we would have the wood at the beginning of each semester,” Pettigrew said. Although that translates to a June 9 deadline for the summer session, Pettigrew said he would be open to receiving a lumber donation later than that.


The 2013 “Out of the Woods’ exhibition featured 50 student works crafted from storm-damaged oak trees.

Pettigrew has been an avid supporter of using of urban wood for his classroom projects. One of his Architecture & Furniture program’s most celebrated urban wood projects, “Out of the Woods,” repurposed lumber salvaged from some of the nearly 200 oak trees damaged by a brutal July 2012 storm at Reed-Keppler Park in West Chicago, IL. Some 50 student pieces of furniture and art were showcased the following summer at West Chicago’s Railroad Days festival. The pieces were sold and raffled to raise money for the park and The Conservation Fund.

Pettigrew said he is looking to build on the previous successful collaboration in West Chicago.

“It is possible that all three project themes will be working around an idea that was given to me by a museum director in West Chicago,” Pettigrew said. “We will be attempting to put together a traveling exhibition of work that helps to explain what urban wood is and why it is or should be important to people of all ages, whether they live in a city, suburb, rural community, country or otherwise.

“The exhibit will include graphics to discuss all aspects of urban wood use, financial aspects of urban wood use, etc. The exhibition will also include educational components for kids ranging in age from pre-school through high school. The educational  components are intended to allow teachers from local communities to the museum exhibitions to bring their kids in for a visit and have their kids take back to school with them ‘homework’ that can be applied to a range of classes including science, technology, engineering and math – in other words S.T.E.M. fields as well as the arts.”

While Pettigrew called the museum exhibition the “big idea/event,” he added, “we would be more than happy to display our work in and around the communities from wherever the wood comes from.”

Urban Wood Wish List
Pettigrew said he requires at least one board per student. Each of the boards would ideally be 1-1/4-inch or thicker, be a least 6 feet long and range between 9 inches and 12 inches wide. Pettigrew said he would accept any hardwood species of urban wood.

“While I have an ideal board dimension in mind, at the end of the day we will take whatever people are willing to give us,” Pettigrew said.

In addition to the June 9 deadline for summer, Pettigrew hopes to receive urban wood for the Fall by Sept. 1 and for Spring 2016 by Jan. 17, 2016. He added that he has no problem arranging to pick up a load of wood.

Lumber suppliers interested in making an urban wood donation to the IIT Furniture & Architecture program should contact Pettigrew at pettigrew@iit.edu or 773-294-1475.

‘Full Circle Urban Forestry’ Lesson of New Children’s Book

The-Playground-TreeSustainable urban wood usage has been promoted countless ways over the last decade, from meetings with locals to published reports. However, to our knowledge “The Playground Tree,” is the only example of a children’s book based on the topic.

Author Jeanette Joy’s whimsical tale of the journey of an urban tree, beautifully illustrated by J.R. Ralph), was published in December 2014. In the story, a playground tree is attacked by the emerald ash borer and must be taken down. However, not all is lost, as the tree is harvested into lumber that is crafted into classroom tables.

“The Playground Tree” conveys a wonderful “Circle of Life” message. The book is available for $10.00. Click here to order a copy.

Joy’s book is copyrighted by the West Chicago Park District, which knows firsthand about finding value from felled trees.

After a massive storm knocked down more than trees in Reed Keppler Park in July 2012, West Chicago Park District officials worked to salvage logs from the damaged trees. Some of the reclaimed wood was donated to the Architecture & Furniture class of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). There, students created some 50 pieces of furniture and artwork that one-year later were displayed as part of IIT’s Out of the Woods exhibit during West Chicago’s annual Railroad Days festival. The works were sold or raffled off; proceeds benefited Reed Keppler Park and The Conservation Foundation.