Circulating Matters for Cornell Arts Biennial

© Felix Heisel/Circular Construction Lab

“Circulating Matters” is a temporary outdoor staircase and viewing platform installation built for the Cornell Council of the Arts 2022 Biennial in Ithaca, New York. The design was developed from the Advanced Architectural Design Master of Science studio ‘Unbuild: Design’ taught at Cornell University. schlaich bergermann partner collaborated in teaching the studio and in consulting on the structural design and verification of the platform.
Made from wood salvaged from the Catherine Commons Deconstruction Project, a former 1910 residential structure deconstructed by academic and community stakeholders, the project applied Circular Economy principles to the construction material sourcing, structural design, and construction detailing. The salvaged old growth dimensional lumber was processed, assessed, and used for the design of the structural frame of the platform.
The structural system is a series of moment frames that are rigidly fixed to one another in their perpendicular direction. The connection details were designed using reversable mechanical fasteners to allow for removal and reuse – either as individual elements or for complete reassembly at another site – including the removable screw pile foundations. The project continues to be the source of an ongoing research collaboration between the Circular Construction Lab at Cornell University and schlaich bergermann partner which further explores design processes for reused materials and material passporting.

Ithaca, New York, USA
Circular Construction Lab, Ithaca NY (Felix Heisel, Eduardo Cilleruelo Teran, Lulin He, Connor Yocum, and Yao Wang)
Finger Lakes ReUse
Cornell Council for the Arts, Ithaca NY
Project Responsibility
Michael Stein


Technical Data

Length x width
12’-3” x 12’-3” (3.75 m x 3.75 m)
14’-2” (4.3 m)
Stair treads
Reclaimed Eastern Hemlock and Hard Pine


Dan Bergsagel
November 10, 2023 - 11:30 am | Center for Architecture
Dan Bergsagel
March 12, 2024 - 6:00 pm | Online



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