Traditionally thought of as the wood for baseball bats, ash’s strength and bending quality combined with its beautiful grain structure, make it an excellent wood for a wide variety of applications. Two highlighted projects that use ash in unique ways are highlighted below.
The Traverwood Branch Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a 16,500-square-foot lesson in sustainable building and design. Built on four acres of green space, the L-shaped building celebrates the rebirth of local ash trees—victims of the emerald ash borer. The fallen ash appears as interior flooring, wall panels, ceilings, and shelving. And a row of ash columns lines a bank of windows, connecting onlookers to a nature preserve.
As a featured aspect of Traverwood Library, the fallen ash appears as interior flooring, wall panels, ceilings, and shelving. In addition, a row of ash columns lines a bank of windows, connecting onlookers to a nature preserve. “This was our first experience working with ash,” noted Lavigne. “It’s similar to oak in appearance and ranges in color from creamy white to chocolate brown. This project gave us an opportunity to showcase its beauty.”
American ash was the natural choice for a building that stands as a testament to one of Spain’s oldest industries—salt production. In 2003, restoration began on buildings between the town of Añana and the Añana Saltworks. An old salt store, with perimeter walls as its only remnants, became El Torco, an aesthetically appealing design mix of old and new elements and an amazing testament to the flexibility of American ash.
Architect Mikel Landa’s inspiration for the design and choice of materials came from his experience of building his own kayak. Thus, El Torco’s shape resembles an upside down boat’s hull. According to Landa, “American ash offers a light tone and marked grain, which provides the visual effect we were looking for. It is strong, relative to its weight, and is flexible,” noted Landa. “We cut the ash into small strips, which allowed for the bending needed to take on the unique shape of the building’s skin.”
Photography: The American Hardwood Export Council Thanks to the American Hardwood Information Center for the information in this article.