What are SIPs and what do Frank Lloyd Wright and Alden B. Dow have to do with them?

November 22, 2006

SIPs are basically big Oreo cookies with foam on the inside and OSB on the outside. Now that I’m thinking about it, I think a SIP is more like an ice cream sandwich. They are structural so they don’t have stud framing and they go up FAST; days as opposed to weeks and weeks to months.

model home

To the non-initiated (which I am) building with SIPs raises tons of questions. But let me get to the flash and flame first: Frank Lloyd Wright.

–Some of the earliest examples of sandwich-panel technology can be found in the Usonian Houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright– Michael Morley, Building with SIPs.

OK so who invented them? According to SIPA  (Structural Insulated Panel Association) SIPs were invented by engineers at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) in Madison, Wisconsin, in the mid 1930’s. But SIPs may never have made any news if it weren’t for a student of Frank Lloyd Wright; Alden B. Dow  (son of Dow Chemical founder). Dow started experimenting with insulted panels in the 1950s and built the first Styrofoam houses in Midland, MI, in 1951. While the history is compelling, I am really interested in the uses that people are coming up with today.



  1. Stunning, I did not know about this topic up to now. Thx.

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