Big Dig House: Recycled Residence Reaches Completion

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Big Dig House: Recycled Residence Reaches Completion

| architects, architecture, green buildings, modern architecture | July 07, 2009

The Big Dig was a carbon footprint disaster, but it’s salvaged materials helped seed a few green sprouts.


If the walls of the Big Dig House could talk, they’d tell you that it’s comprised of 600,000 lbs of recycled materials that were rescued from the Big Dig highway project in Boston. Inhabitat last reported on the striking modern residence in 2006 when it was still in its planning stages, and it has since come a long way from being a pile of rubble and recycled materials. We may now behold what stands today — an elegant and modern private home in Lexington, MA with an exciting backstory.


At a final cost of $150 per square foot, most of the materials for the Big Dig house were free, minus the expenses to ship the materials to Lexington, MA. Set in an area of Lexington called Six Moon Hill, the finished Big Dig House has joined other modern homes that are well known to the area.

To save time and energy, Single Speed Design, engineers and designers of the Big Dig House, used most of the salvaged materials from the Big Dig in the condition in which they were found. Using the structural materials “as is” equipped the house to take on a much heavier load than standard building materials. As such, the house features an elaborate roof garden above the garage. Slabs of concrete reclaimed from the highway support three feet of soil, and the entire garden is designed to use recycled rainwater.

The house’s exterior is elegantly clad in cedar siding and glass, giving it a clean and modern finishing touch without disguising the exposed steel tubes and beams. They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. The Big Dig House is a perfect example of the treasure to be found in recycling and reuse.

Via Inhabitat

About the author

Drawing upon original ideas and extensive personal and professional experience in the field, David McFadden crafted this article to explore the untapped potential of making historic architectural masterpieces more sustainable. After working at various design practices—both full-time and freelance—and launching his design firm, David identified a significant gap in the industry. In 1984, he founded Consulting For Architects Inc. Careers, an expansive hub designed to align architects with hiring firms for mutual benefit. This platform enables architects to find impactful design work and frees hiring firms from the time-consuming cycles of recruitment and layoffs. David’s innovative approach to employer-employee relations has brought much-needed flexibility and adaptation to the industry. As the Founder and CEO, David has successfully guided his clients and staff through the challenges of four recessions—the early ’80s, early ’90s, early 2000s, the Great Recession, the pandemic, and the current slowdown due to inflation and high-interest rates.

3 Responses to "Big Dig House: Recycled Residence Reaches Completion"
  • Jayne McIntosh, P.G., LEED AP July 8, 2009

    Why characterize a project like Boston’s Big Dig, an engineering marvel, and brilliant way to relieve traffic congestion in Boston as a “carbon footprint disaster”? That’s an offensive comparison of apples and oranges in my opinion.

    It is unnecessary to cast the project that generated the waste in a negative light just to make the waste recycling project seem more important and inovative than it is.

    Why not celebrate both?

    • consulting4architects July 9, 2009

      Hi Jayne, you make a good point. I think I probably did do the good cop bad cop thing.

  • heather pacheco, LEED AP July 10, 2009

    Brilliant idea and design, but this is much better suited to an apartment complex than a 2 person home, which single speed also proposed to the city of Cambridge as I understand but it was turned down. All the efficiency of design using materials with huge amounts of embodied energy is somewhat lost on 2 people living in such a huge home. Either downsize or have a large family living there.
    I’m surprised that this article is coming out so late; the home was finished about 2 years ago and featured in the first series of e2 shows on PBS. Very inspiring all the same, especially for myself in Boston!

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