Photos courtesy of Michael Slack Photography
Studio Hillier raised $800 for charity through the auction of our Sukkah as part of the Sukkah Village 2021 exhibit in Princeton, New Jersey. The Sukkah, titled Rising From Ashes, was displayed in front of the Arts Council of Princeton.
Rising From Ashes highlights the importance of repurposing threatened Ash trees. The Ash genus (Fraxinus) is a keystone tree species in North America comprising up to 60 percent of total tree diameter in northeastern US forests. Unfortunately, the Emerald Ash Borer, a non-native beetle first discovered in Michigan in 2002, is quickly devastating Ash populations throughout the Eastern US. Tree mortality is nearly 100%, and hundreds of millions of trees have already been killed, out of an estimated 8 billion Ash trees in the US. The loss of these trees would have irreversible impacts on ecosystems across the continent.
In recent years, the impacts of EAB in New Jersey are becoming readily apparent. Walking through forest trails in Central NJ, it is hard not to notice large gaps in the forest canopy, or the stripped upper foliage of partially consumed Ash trees.
Fortunately, Ash breeding programs for EAB resistance are showing signs of progress, and other methods of biological control are being investigated. Above all, heightened awareness by the public is the best tool for preventing EAB spread, for reporting suspected infestations or sightings, and for the treatment/removal of infested trees.
As design professionals, we can do our part to make the most of this affordable hardwood resource by specifying it for flooring, furniture, doors, cabinetry and architectural millwork.
This Sukkah exemplifies our connection to nature, and the spirit of repurposing natural materials in Sukkah construction, by giving new life to wood from a lost Ash tree. Simple geometries were selected to bring focus to craftsmanship and materiality, interactivity and flexibility.