Graham, NC | Photography by Jim West

The new headquarters for a nationwide crane leasing and steel erection business was a long-contemplated update to a venerable, family-run enterprise. Business was good and growing, but existing space was cramped and poorly arranged, and increasing competition demanded better teamwork. The owners turned need into opportunity. The Buckner Companies’ headquarters in central North Carolina is a showplace for the steel erector’s trade, a study in material salvage and reuse, and a model collaborative work environment.

The crane-rigging “boneyard” was piled with building parts rescued from scattered construction sites over many decades. The owner challenged the design and construction team to incorporate the materials in telling and effective ways that would inspire headquarters workers and visitors. The design team assessed hundreds of salvaged structural sections and fabrications for condition, strength and suitability to make a place that would clearly signal the client’s line of work. More than 40 percent of all the steel used in the building came directly from the client’s back yard. This direct reuse eliminated the energy costs normally involved in re-fabricating salvaged steel, going, in effect, “beyond green” by making use of materials already widely appreciated for having high recycled content.