From the prototype vault built at MIT in January to the exhibition vault built at the Cooper-Hewitt, the most significant difference is the brick itself. Our tremendous gratitude goes out to James Kolodziey and Charles Taylor at Green Leaf Brick and Taylor Clay Products; they have been instrumental in stepping up the manufacture of this highly custom-produced material to meet our construction deadline. I have learned a great deal about the efficiency of manufacture in the industry, by coming to understand what it takes for a brick plant to clean the lines of production of a mass produced brick in order to push through a small production run. It must be akin to heard-farming really, for a plant manager to get as many of one type into a sequence as possible, to keep the ‘down-time’ of cleaning and set-up between manufacturing runs from eating the costs of production. Our team at Green Leaf and Taylor have taken considerable pains in the name of productivity for this vault to be built, and we hope very much that this will pay forward for them in some way.
Green Leaf brick is a 100% post-consumer and post-industrial recycled material composed of:
30% processed sewage wastes
byproducts of open pit-mining operations
virgin ceramic scrap slated for landfill
industrial dust filtration contents
among other things…
The clay engineering of these bricks is extraordinary, and its engineer, Steve Blankenbeker, has demonstrated that this brick is part of a long tradition in scientific innovation of conventional, industrially produced brick and experimental sustainable production methods. Through Steve, I have come to know the incredible culture of brick production, which ultimately crosses over into the terrain of geology and material science.
It has been a great pleasure to work with these bricks – and I do not intend to be hyperbolic here. The perfect regularity of GL bricks make them very predictable in terms of how they behave in the vault construction – and perhaps contradicts one’s preconceptions of so called recycled products. Their heft – well, this somewhat underscores their being composed of 30% shit! I assure you, we have had many-a-person inquisitively smell them – but one is hardly likely to get a whiff of anything after being fired above 1,900 degrees!