symposium overview

Draft Symposium Report, January 23, 2019

Photos and videos from the symposium

October 26-27, 2018


Material Values, Waste and Deconstruction 

What can be learned from deconstruction sites about materials reuse opportunities in heritage work? What does recent research tell us about possibilities of connecting heritage conservation with waste? Which policies can guide difficult conservation decisions in the context of demolition and salvage?

This event at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada starts with a public lecture on Friday evening by Mark Gorgolewski, author of Resource Salvation, The Architecture of Reuse. The symposium on the Saturday will bring together established practitioners, current scholars and emerging policy-makers, and includes a walking tour of local examples.

Symposium organized by professor Susan Ross, Architect, School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies, Carleton University.


Speakers and session chairs

Registration information


Given the magnitude of waste generated by demolition, increasing attention is being paid in policy, design and research to partial or complete building deconstruction, and methods for salvage and design with reclaimed materials. Built heritage conservation is often defined in opposition to such processes of demolition. Despite this, conservation treatments – from rehabilitation to restoration – frequently involve a degree of demolition and deconstruction. These processes may generate quantities of ‘discarded’ building materials and components that are more or less explicitly managed as conservation decisions.

At the same time, ‘values-based conservation’ calls into question the relationship of heritage to ‘waste,’ often defined as the opposite of what has value. Recent scholarship on loss aversion, toxic materials and curated decay introduce critical perspectives on alternate futures for built heritage. Increasing pressure to reduce waste production and redefine all waste for reuse are providing practical strategies. However gaps between critical waste and heritage theories, the emerging waste management practices and evolving policy frameworks, call for dialogues that foster more productive alliances.

The goal of this event is therefore to bring together individuals and organizations active in related areas of heritage conservation, urban, architectural and construction history, critical heritage and discard studies, building deconstruction, sustainable materials and waste management, to address these gaps and possibilities for bridging between these areas as part of projects, policies, research or creative practices. The proposed structure frames discussions around

  • Site lessons
  • Recent research
  • Emerging contexts of policy

The event will include accomplished scholars and graduate students, as well as professional and industry practitioners; and engage with government and non-government leaders as potential partners. The overarching objectives are to foster open exchange and build a community of discussion. Interested participants will be invited to share their papers in an online proceedings, and collaborate on an article to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. Other possible outcomes are defining research teams and related research grant applications.


This event is made possible through the support of

  • Carleton University, including: School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the Office of the Vice-President Research and International, and the Carleton University Library.
  • ERA Architects, Toronto
  • NSERC-CREATE Heritage Engineering, Carleton University
  • Ryerson University, Toronto
  • Milestone Project Management, Winnipeg
  • Solterre Design, Halifax
  • Letourneau Heritage Consulting, Toronto/Kingston

Related case studies in Ottawa

The symposium will include site visits of a couple of recent examples of materials reuse related to heritage work to foster discussion “in situ”. As part of the background to the event, additional projects and places in the Ottawa area were identified.

Histories of demolition, loss and salvage

Deconstruction, salvage and reuse projects