Having come to the end of its useful life, it’s not uncommon for an old building to be unceremoniously bulldozed in advance of new development. Officials at the University of California at Riverside had another — more sustainable — idea for the doomed Wurms Building, however.
UCR enlisted artist Jason Middlebrook to create Live Building, a performance art project in which he harvested and recycled all usable materials in the structure prior to its demolition on December 16th last month.
With the goal to reduce the amount of waste headed to the landfill Middlebrook, an internationally known artist who’s work has often explored the relationship between nature and humanity, gutted the Wurms Building and used his salvage to build unique furniture and functional objects. He writes:
“The usable parts of the building create new objects that contribute to people’s lives. Each object has a sustainable foundation. I want people to see that the building and its history was significant to the site and to the community. Its memory will live on in the objects it produces.”
The Wurms Building was scheduled for removal last month in anticipation of renovations to an adjacent structure that will become UCR’s new Culver Center for the Arts. Middlebrook was commissioned when UCR was looking for an artist who could create a public art event reflective of the building’s history in Riverside as well as the site’s future as part of UCR’s growing ARTSblock.