Author: Emily

The Christmas Trees of Modern Builder

The Christmas Trees of Modern Builder

In Seattle, a Modern Home That Looks Toward the Sky and the Water

With his wife, a family of four, and a green thumb in tow, Eric Johnson has made a career out of transforming derelict and neglected industrial buildings into homes. Now he’s taking on another kind of challenge: building a home in the sky.

Every winter, when the Seattle office of Modern Builder opens its doors for the season, its reception area — adorned with glass doors that look out to Lake Washington, and with the kind of woodwork and wood paneling that are the standard in any upscale home in Seattle — is awash in the sounds of a million Christmas trees.

On Christmas Day, the company will host its annual “Fiesta in the House,” a reenactment of a Mexican fiesta where the team turns open windows, walls, floors and ceilings into a giant jolly room. The event attracts up to three thousand people and is part of a Seattle tradition that dates to the late 1800s.

Modern Builder’s employees have become known for their Christmas preparations. But on Christmas Eve, they and their families transform a dilapidated industrial space into a holiday wonderland. The event is meant to demonstrate Modern Builder’s commitment to creating ecologically sustainable spaces, and to highlight the company’s work with the community in several ways. Not least of them is its building process known as “micro-lumbering.”

“It’s as much an art form as it is a building process,” says project manager Adam Skelton.

The concept is simple: In lieu of traditional lumbering, Modern Builder constructs walls, ceilings, and even floors using recycled materials. Skelton says that the practice “gives us an opportunity to be responsible stewards of our environment and the resources that we’re using.”

Building with timber involves more than using old materials from the construction of the house. It also involves a process of deconstruction and reconstruction, which can be very demanding for the time and resources required.

A long-term project like this one is

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