Our Mission

The Architectural Salvage Warehouse of Detroit deconstructs buildings in Southeast Michigan to keep environmental resources out of the waste stream, and to make decent, affordable housing materials available to low- and moderate-income families.

  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Job Creation & Training
  • Preservation & Conservation

Landfill Diversion

We divert tons of reusable and often scarce building materials from landfills, recycle materials unsuitable for reuse, and minimize waste.



By limiting the amount of solid waste placed in landfills each year, salvage is an excellent way to demonstrate our commitment and concern for the environment, to improve quality of life, and to pass on a better world for our children and for future generations.


Control Environmental Hazards

We use industry-leading safety procedures, containment systems, and cleanup equipment to keep our customers and workers safe from lead paint, asbestos, silica, general nuisance dust, and other hazards.


Salvaged materials are given a second life, rather than becoming waste in a landfill.

Job Creation

For each job created by demolition, deconstruction creates two to five jobs more. Meaning deconstruction is a more powerful tool for economic development.


Job Training

Training provides skills that are valuable not only for salvage and deconstruction, but also for maintenance, renovation, and restoration work. Our training process assures that crew members have the skills and know the safety features that they need to be effective, while workers are paid a living wage as they learn.


Success in Other Cities

Architectural salvage and deconstruction has been successful in other major metropolitan areas, some larger, and some smaller than Detroit, including: Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Portland, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Indianapolis. To be competitive, Detroit must do what these other cities are already doing.


Salvage and deconstruction creates more jobs than demolition.

An Alternative to Demolition

Where preservation of buildings is not a possibility, preservation of their materials through salvage prevents these materials from being lost through disposal in a landfill.


Preservation of Architectural Elements

The materials we salvage are available to the public for sale at the Architectural Salvage Warehouse retail store where it may be purchased to use in historic preservation or home improvement projects. Salvaged materials are often less expensive than new materials, and have a special character that new materials do not.


Financial Support for Preservation

In the future we hope to donate funds to preservation organizations to support historic preservation efforts in metropolitan Detroit. We also hope to initiate historic preservation projects of our own, purchasing properties, preserving them, and selling them to new owners.


Salvaged materials may be used in preservation of historic buildings.

What We Do

Deconstruction +

Deconstruction is the planned and systematic disassembly of buildings, which allows component parts and pieces to be removed without damaging them, so that they may be reused. To find out if your structure may be a candidate for deconstruction, contact Chris Rutherford at crutherford@aswdetroit.org.

Soft Skimming - Reclaimed Doors Handles & Accessories

Soft Skimming +

Where deconstruction is not possible or needed, soft skimming is the removal of materials such as doors, hardware, cabinets, flooring and light fixtures that are easy to remove.

Salvaged materials for sale

Sale of Salvaged Materials +

Materials gathered from deconstruction and skimming are made available for sale on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Please contact us via phone or email to inquire about what you are looking for. We are very limited on what we have available currently.

Person working at Architectural Warehouse Detroit

Job Creation and Training +

Salvage work is labor intensive, creating more jobs than demolition and most other economic activities. We provide training to prepare workers for salvage, but also for other work as well.


Watch Deconstruction Process

Our Story

Architectural Warehouse Detroit Lumber Warehouse Exterior

The Architectural Salvage Warehouse of Detroit (ASWD), a nonprofit salvage and resale organization, was started in response to the tremendous amount of waste being generated in the demolition of houses in Detroit and its suburbs. In 2004, over 2,600 housing units were demolished in Detroit and over 4,000 were demolished across Southeast Michigan. The US EPA estimates that only about 20 to 30 percent of Construction and Demolition debris is recovered for reuse and recycling.


ASWD decided on a mission to save what we could of our historic regional materials, to salvage perfectly good architectural materials and put them in the hands of those who can use them and to create jobs and training for those interested in learning the skills of deconstruction. Our earnings are to go to historic preservation projects that we initiate and in grants to other historic preservation organizations that we partner with in projects.


Locally, ASWD is pioneering the deconstruction process, which maximizes the diversion of materials from landfills by using a systematic process in which up to 85% of materials can be salvaged for reuse or recycling for a secondary use. ASWD's work conserves historic architectural components, energy, and material resources, while creating 'new jobs' at a ratio of 5 to 1 compared with demolition. ASWD provides training and employment opportunities for local residents. In our first few months of deconstruction operations, we have trained eleven deconstruction members, and partnered with Youth Build Detroit to expose dozens of young construction apprentices to the deconstruction process.


ASWD has expanded collaborations to Focus Hope, Wayne State University and The University of Detroit Mercy, School of Architecture to formalize training and educational partnerships to enrich the economic prospects of Detroit's youth and neighborhoods. In addition we operate a retail warehouse that is integrated into an emerging arts district in a heavily disinvested Detroit neighborhood. The warehouse facilitates local access to affordable building materials for the long-term residents, newly arrived young families, and local entrepreneurs that are revitalizing the neighborhoods that surround our warehouse. Through outreach and local press coverage we have expanded our customer base to all metro Detroit suburbs. Our work is at the nexus of environmental protection and urban economic empowerment.


We began outreach in 2003, educational speaking engagements in 2004, and deconstruction and resale in the spring of 2005. We are a young organization, but have built a large number of organizational relationships and have a growing list of supporters. WE hope that you will consider joining those supporters by becoming a member of ASWD, by donating materials to our warehouse, by volunteering in our warehouse or at deconstruction sites or by using our deconstruction or materials skimming services.


ASWD's work can play an important role in retaining and expanding the material wealth and environmental health of this community, enhancing local sustainability by conserving material resources and promoting economic development and job creation


Leadership Team

Executive Director

Christoper Rutherford


Board of Directors

Michael Poris, AIA

Michael Poris, AIA, Principal of McIntosh Poris Associates, has spent much of his professional life championing the revitalization of his hometown of Detroit. Since establishing the firm in 1994, Poris has transformed buildings, communities, and urban centers through inclusion and dialogue. His leadership has evolved the firm into a full-service practice offering a range of disciplines in architecture, interior design, and urban planning. Throughout the years, MPA has been sought out for its adaptive re-use practice to help preserve many of Detroit’s 20th-century landmark buildings, historic districts, and iconic neighborhoods. Poris’ background in contemporary architecture and belief in thoughtful urban development has distinctly contributed to the city’s resurgence by delivering exciting environments for tech titans, leading restaurateurs, in the know homeowners, and responsive public spaces. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Michigan and Masters in Architecture at SCI-Arc in Los Angeles, and currently is a member of the Architectural Salvage Warehouse Detroit board of directors and Cranbrook Art Museum Committee.

Gerald Underwood

Gerald is licensed in residential home construction. He works for Detroit Edison, is Vice-President of the Hawthorne Park Community Advisory Council, President of the Greendale Avenue Block Club, and Board Member of the 11th Precinct Community Relations Council. Gerald has been instrumental in developing training programs for the deconstruction crews at ASWD.

Diane Van Buren

Diane Van Buren integrates urban redevelopment, historic preservation and sustainable development principles to maximize community resources and energy efficiency of the built environment. In practice for more than 25 years, she has made redevelopment a primary focus of the economic development firm Zachary and Associates, serving a wide range of public, private and non-profit clients. By placing a high value on demonstrating the effectiveness of alternative energy with historic preservation projects, she was instrumental in creating the Sugar Hill Development 71 Garfield project that incorporated the use of solar and geothermal technologies in the adaptive reuse of a deteriorated yet historic 1922 building. She is currently leading a multi-faceted adaptive reuse and technology team to develop and install a fully integrated net-zero community solar project within the Beltline, a former industrial district in Detroit. On a much smaller scale, through a Ford College Community grant, she is leading a collaboration of Wayne State University Honors and University Detroit Mercy architecture students to develop and build solar collector and rain catchment community pavilions with four community garden programs in Detroit.

Thank You!

We at the ASWD are grateful for the many people and organizations that have expressed their support, whether in writing, by donating materials, or by making a contribution.


Corporate Supporters

We are grateful to these companies and organizations for the support that they have provided:


  • Michigan Interfaith Trust Fund

  • Not For Profit Facility Center

  • Phoenix Group

  • PVS Chemical

  • Rock Financial

  • Gilbert Hudson Fund

  • Shore Bank

  • Charter One


Growth Supporters

ASWD also extends its appreciation to those who have provided support and guidance as our organization grows:

Lawrence A. Molnar

Director, EDA University Center For Economic Diversification, Business and Industrial Assistance Division

Alexander Pollock

Principal City Planner, City of Detroit

Richard Geyer

Michigan Urban Strategies, LLC

Jan and Bunny Homan

founding members


Letters of Support

These individuals and organizations have supported us by writing a letter of support:

Carl Levin

United States Senator for Michigan

Will Wittig

Assistant Professor, University of Detroit Mercy

Douglas McIntosh

McIntosh Poris Associates

Alexander Pollock

City of Detroit, Planning & Economic Development Department



"I believe that this mission of ASWD is of critical importance to the reconstruction of a sustainable Detroit."

Will Wittig, Associate Professor, University of Detroit Mercy


"Deconstruction would be a boon not only to the City of Detroit, but to the suburbs as well."

Douglas McIntosh, McIntosh Poris Associates


"The University of Michigan will continue to provide support to the ASWD in the form of technical assistance."

Lawrence A Molnar, Directer, University of Michigan Building School


"Clearly we would prefer to have buildings deconstructed than to see them thrown out."

Kathleen H. Wendler, President, Southwest Detroit Business Association


"We wish you success in this effort and look forward to having a solid salvage option when demolition is inevitable."

Brian D. Conway, State Historic Preservation Officer, Michigan Historical Center