Zero Waste


RTKL Associates

Practice Area


RTKL, AIA Dallas

Project Vision

Zero Waste was a temporary installation representing RTKL Associate’s Dallas architectural office at an exhibit sponsored by AIA Dallas. The purpose of the AIGA event is to introduce architects and architecture firms to the public and highlight the benefits of quality design on the built environment and many other aspects of our lives.

The size of the installations was restricted to 3-by-3-by-7-ft. volumes. Rather than showcasing specific project work, RTKL focused its installation on a cross-disciplinary exploration of its company values. The design team wanted to show people how creative thinking and collaboration can change the way we view our environment.  The team also wanted to show that quality design can be achieved without spending a lot of money. In light of current economic conditions, the budget for the entire project was less than $100, with most of the materials scavenged. RTKL designed, fabricated, and installed the project in less than three weeks. 

The concept of re:Think, re:New, re:Use became the driving force behind the design and fabrication of the installation. The idea was to take commonplace, normally discarded objects that could be found around RTKL’s office and reinterpret them into something unexpected. The RTKL design team wanted its work to be composed of 100% recycled materials (Zero Waste).  As a result, the primary building component became the ubiquitous cardboard tube that is inevitably left over after a roll of plotter paper is used.

The installation was composed of 300+ tubes collected from the RTKL office and reprographic companies they work with. The tubes were cut into four different lengths and assembled into square layers. Modules consisting of three layers were created to allow for transportation and rapid assembly on site (only two hours were allowed for installation).  Each layer of tubes was rotated approximately seven degrees to create a dynamic, twisting form that surrounded a core of constantly changing LED lights. The base of the installation was made from particleboard salvaged from discarded storage shelving, and the LED lights were borrowed from a consultant and returned at the conclusion of the exhibit.

With its focus on new solutions, creative thinking, and collaboration, the installation became a reflection of RTKL’s core values, its commitment to sustainability, and the way it works. It also made a broader statement about discarded elements of the architectural production process and how the entire system can be improved and waste can be limited.

Project Details
Here's a brilliant example of how beautiful design solutions can result from ingenuity, frugality, and fresh thinking. It's also an eloquent reminder of the waste we're all complicit in creating. 
Juror 1
Design Team

Design and Fabrication TeamJenny Huang, Jason Litt, Sarmistha Mandal, Hernan Molina, Brendan O’Grady, Hector Perez, Jason Phillips, Aarohi Pilankar, Daryl Quick, Melvin Saunders, Rick Smith, Pheba Thomas, Dustin Wekesser

Design Firm

RTKL Associates


Gemini Stage Lighting and Sound