From Field to Form: Straw with The Architectural League of New York

What if agricultural byproducts were the major feedstock for building products?

For years, we have been provoking the design and architecture communities with the question: What if architecture & design supported growth in agricultural economies? What if rural economies benefited from the urban housing boom by demand for farming?

This event is co-sponsored with the Architectural League of New York, with a joint interest in exploring a future for architecture made of healthy, regenerative materials.

Straw is an agricultural by-product from the harvest of grains, and it sequesters carbon as it grows in the stalk and the soil. Using straw for building utilizes waste from food production, which otherwise may be burned and release carbon into the atmosphere.

Straw has been used for over a century in the US, revived in the 1980s, and has been included in the International Residential Code in 2015. Its benefits are numerous. As a wall system with clay and lime plasters, it effectively manages moisture in walls and is naturally fire resistant, avoiding the need for toxic flame retardant chemicals. It contains no petrochemicals, is energy efficient, and the material is relatively inexpensive.

What will it take to accelerate the use of straw for buildings? Can we address our housing crisis with straw? How can we accelerate the adoption of straw for urban building fabric? What are the unique opportunities for designing with straw?

Join us in a live in-person event to explore these questions with a panel of experts: an 8th-generation farmer, a highly experienced builder and manufacturer of prefabricated straw panels, and a storied NYC architecture firm.

RSVP today!

+ Parsons / The New School community may use this code to register: 129136




Ace McArleton, co-CEO and Director of Vision & Strategy at New Frameworks

Ace co-founded the Vermont-based, multi-racial, women-, queer- and trans-owned worker cooperative New Frameworks, which offers design/build services that blend natural materials and methods with high-performance design of products such as straw-based panels and modular small homes, focusing on climate regeneration and social justice, Ace is an instructor at Yestermorrow Design/Build School and Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts, and is the director of the Natural Building Certificate Program at Yestermorrow. Ace is a member of Natural Builders Northeast and the Timber Framers Guild. Ace’s work as a builder, consultant, and educator merges his passions for fine craft, ecological & social justice, and relationship to place.


Jacob Deva Racusin, Studio Director, Director of Building Science and Sustainability at New Frameworks

Jacob is a co-founder of New Frameworks Natural Building, a Vermont-based contracting and consulting business specializing in the integration of natural materials and holistic design principles. He teaches natural building courses and is a member of Seven Generations Natural Builders, a natural building education collective that offers training in natural building technologies across the world. He is also triple-certified by Building Performance Institute (BPI) as a Building Analyst, Envelope Professional, and Healthy Homes Evaluator, a Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC), and an Efficiency Vermont partner contractor for the Home Performance with Energy Star program.


Paul Lewis, Principal at LTL Architects, Professor at Princeton University School of Architecture

Paul is currently focused on the architectural potentials of plant and earth-based materials, LTL Architects published the Manual of Biogenic House Sections in 2022. Most recently, the studio has been testing means to compress and bind straw into a building material that simultaneously achieves insulative and structural capacities. Exhibitions featuring work in Biogenic House Sections and Experiments with Straw are currently traveling to universities and design centers across the United States.


Alex English, Farmer and small business owner

Alex works with the Kenyon family at Nitty Gritty Grains, a family-owned and operated farm that produces certified organic grains in the Champlain Valley of Vermont. Nitty Gritty Grain Co. manages 600 acres of cropland growing certified organic wheat, corn, mixed legumes, and hay, and producing flour, cornmeal, wheat berries, cornbread mix, straw, hay, and more.

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