Cedar, that's a wrap!

By Joe Carline

In our office, we get excited about cedar. There is no better material to blend a building into its landscape. Whether for a grand estate or humble barn, cedar can adapt to the occasion. Not only are cedar shingles beautiful and versatile, they are simple to produce, naturally rot and insect resistant, require no special finishing and are simple to install. They can also be locally sourced in most areas of the country.

Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport, 1880, by McKim Mead and White.

For us North-easterners, local sourcing means choosing Eastern White Cedar which will likely be produced in Maine. The natural growing region is from Southern NY to the Middle of Canada and as far west as Minnesota. Eastern White is fairly uncommon in the building trades compared to Western Red and Alaskan Yellow.

All types of cedar shingles and shakes have their unique strengths whether used on walls or roofs. Western Red is prized for its availability in volume and wide range of sizes. Alaskan Yellow is a slow grower, and has higher density and unique pale color. 

Travis van Buren House, by Bruce Price, 1885. 

Eastern (or Northern) White Cedar is harvested in relatively low volume resulting in a smaller following in the construction trades. The color is neutral, it silvers nicely and does not have a tendency to turn black like Red Cedar.

Architecture by Ike Kligerman Barkley, featuring Alaskan Yellow Cedar shingles. 

Regardless of the species, the great benefit to us as designers is the range of the shingle's uses. We like to keep the pattern simple and the volume of the building sculptural. The shingle is always up for a good steam with a bend and it loves to hold a tight corner.

Architecture by Ike Kligerman Barkley, featuring raw, newly installed Alaskan Yellow Cedar shingles.

Architecture by Ike Kligerman Barkley, again in Alaskan Yellow Cedar shingles.

Whichever type you choose, we believe there is no more graceful way to clad a building than with raw cedar and watch it age naturally.