TALL PLASTIC: The future of building in America

tall plastic
© American Chemistry Council

Today the American Chemistry Council, the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition, and the Vinyl Building Council announced TALL PLASTIC, a new initiative that will let American builders construct towers, apartments, highways and all the infrastructure in the USA out of good local recyclable American plastic.

Mary Landrieu, Senator from Louisiana and Exxon-Mobil, is excited.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana, Ohio and around America work in the plastics industry, turning healthy American made products like chlorine and ethylbenzine into vinyl, PVC and other strong, long lasting materials that can save our forests for camping and hunting, and and our limestone and aggregate quarries for swimming and fishing.

Kate Offringa of the Vinyl Building Council explains what's behind this initiative.

michael green from Lloyd Alter on Vimeo.

We watched architect Michael Green pitch TALL WOOD, where he convinced people that you could build 30 storey skyscrapers out of flammable wood, and thought crap, our stuff burns too, why can't we do this?

And indeed, flammability is a virtue in an economy where, as this Quartz post was titled, American consumers are being asked to save the global economy. Old fashioned natural materials last a long time, even if you set them on fire; People don't need to replace them very often. Plastic, on the other hand, is gone in sixty seconds. (Well, two minutes for sure)

building system© Parker Kenner

Michael Green was unavailable to work on the Tall Plastic project, so the plastic people engaged architect Parker Kenner to develop it. Recognizing the popularity of both prefabrication and flatpack, Kenner came up with a simple system where standard reinforced polyethylene beams are slotted into prefabricated columns.

Cladding is then snapped on to the columns with a proprietary peg system. It is endlessly flexible, as long as you stick to the grid and don't design curves, but hey, we're not Zaha Hadid here, we have a country to build.

tower© Parker Kenner

Who knows how high they can go. Kenner says, "the sky is the limit."

airport© Parker Kenner

It doesn't stop with buildings; plastic is moving into infrastructure with airports,

highways© Parker Kenner


skyrail© Parker Kenner

Elon Musk's HyperLoop transport system finds its place with plastic, now renamed sky rail and spreading across America.

bridges© Parker Kenner

It is a wonderful new world, where trees are for hugging, not for chopping and building, and where plastics do it all. Like Michael Green with Tall Wood, Kenner is making his designs available to all Americans in kits any individual or state government can use. After extensive testing of bridge congestion in New Jersey, and noting the size of the state's petrochemical industry, Governor Chris Christie has ordered a number of the prepackaged sets.

Indeed, as the new executive director says in her introductory note at the Vinyl Building Council, green building is on the run and the war on plastics is being pushed back at all levels of government. She says, in all seriousness:

“I see that the VBC has been off to a tremendous start over the past year with significant wins at the federal and state level, most notably with GSA and in Ohio. As we work to engage the broader vinyl value chain in support or our industry’s advocacy agenda we will use this momentum to gain even more successes that will benefit vinyl product producers across all sectors."

the future© Vinyl Building Council

Your kid's future in building. Tall Plastic. Coming to your city soon.

TALL PLASTIC: The future of building in America
New technology is announced that can build towers up to 30 stories high out of good American recyclable clean plastic.

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