MSU Museum Exhibition Inspires Visitors to Consider a Circular Vision of the Built Environment

The Michigan State University (MSU) Museum proudly announces a new exhibition, Domicology – Creating a Sustainable Built Environment. Domicology (DOH-mih-KAHL-uh-jee) is a dynamic field of study examining economic, social, and environmental factors in the built environment. Curated by MSU faculty, staff, and students this exhibition delves into the possibilities for a sustainable future when the life cycles of structures are considered.brown and blue graphic with the text "Domicology: The Life Cycle of Built" Environment"

Rex LaMore, exhibition curator, director of the MSU Center for Community Economic Development, and faculty member in the Urban & Regional Planning Program stressed the importance to the exhibition saying, “More than 136 million tons of waste each year in the U.S. is generated in construction-related demolition, new construction, and renovation projects. When we couple that amount of material waste with the additional burden of environmental contamination, the negative social impacts associated with blight and abandonment, there must be a different way for us to design, build, renovate, remove, and reuse the structure we have created or will create in the future. These fundamental challenges gave birth to the science of Domicology”.

As visitors journey through the Domicology exhibition, they will confront the stark reality of our current ‘take-make-waste’ paradigm that presents linear structure life cycles, grappling with depictions of blighted communities and the consequences of structural abandonment. However, the exhibition also presents a hopeful vision—a circular approach to the end-of-life stages of structures. Attendees will explore innovative practices such as deconstruction, material salvage reuse possibilities, and the creation of resale markets. Among such practices, the concept of “Designing for Deconstruction” is highlighted and it illustrates how future structures can be constructed with sustainability in mind, connecting every stage of a structure’s lifecycle together in a circular fashion.

With a shared goal of shedding light on the foundation concept of Domicology and its relevance in contemporary society, the exhibition was organized through a collaborative effort including the CCED (Center for Community and Economic Development), MSU Surplus Store & Recycling Center, School of Planning, Design and Construction at MSU, and the state of Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

 Devon Akmon, MSU Museum Director, expressed excitement about the innovative exhibition, stating, “Here at the MSU Museum, we seek to set new standards in the realm of academic museums by collaborating with faculty to convey and amplify groundbreaking research in unexpected and creative ways. By bringing the concept of domicology to a wider audience, we are not just showcasing a cutting-edge field; we are actively participating in shaping a more sustainable future.”

The exhibition, Domicology – Creating a Sustainable Built Environment, will be open to the public through March 30, 2024, in the Sandbox Gallery at the MSU Museum.

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