Bur Oak Tree Provides Shade at Social Sciences Research Quad and Log Seating at Lab School’s Outdoor Classroom

Repurpose with a Purpose

Who says you can’t be in two places at one time? Well, you can’t, but parts of a campus tree can. With the ongoing practice of repurposing materials, Facilities Services took a felled branch from a Bur Oak tree at the Social Sciences Quadrangle and created additional outdoor seating at the Laboratory School's Outdoor Classroom.

Several days of consistent rain showers and gusty storms in the Chicago area this summer caused a large branch to snap from the tree. Facilities Services Operations Director, Building Trades, Brandon Rux explained that after tree branches are cut down, they are either run through a woodchipper or if branches are too large for the chipper, they are composted off site and typically used for mulch. However, Kathleen Golomb, Manager of Campus Environment within Campus Planning and Sustainability saw it as an opportunity to repurpose the branch on campus. 

Golomb’s instrumental work involving the design and construction of the Laboratory School's Outdoor Classroom called to mind a natural connection to place the branch sections as seating. It is also a way for students to view the cross section of a tree, providing a better understanding of the growing process by viewing the growth rings. Thrilled about receiving the donation, Lab Schools Director of Operations, Joe Wachowski stated, "It's great that Lab has such a personal, well established, relationship with Facilities Services and their Office of Sustainability. They knew we might possibly have an outlet to repurpose the tree branch and called right away to see if we would be interested in receiving the cut pieces, "tree cookies", for more seating in our outdoor classroom reading circle." 

After the branch was removed, FS worked with Bartlett Tree Experts to have the single branch converted into six tree stump stools. While the stately Bur Oak remains a source of shade for all who cross its path at Social Sciences Quad, it also has an extended branch that now serves as log seating for Labbies.  The young scholars will utilize the natural seats during story time, campfires and other enriching activities that take place at the Outdoor Classroom.

How Do I?

UChicagoSocial: Facilities Services