From cladding a wall to sweeping up construction dust, Kansas University architecture graduates were in an all-out hustle Thursday afternoon as they drew closer to the completion of the Center for Design Research building.
The students, who all graduated in May and were part of the year-long architecture course known as Studio 804, were preparing for Saturday’s open house, which will unveil a building like no other in the state.
“This is about as over-the-top as it can get for me,” Studio 804 professor Dan Rockhill said.
Located on KU’s West Campus, the elongated building covered in reclaimed limestone is integrated into the 80-year-old farmhouse and barn that was once part of the Chamney family dairy farm.
The building is intended to transform the space into a showcase of sustainable design and green technology and provide a location for meetings, conferences and classes.
“It has been fun, but a lot of hard work. We have gone through a lot of pain,” said Allison Pinkerton, who is a third-year architecture masters student who graduated in May but remained at KU to finish the project. “It is really awesome to just see it come together.”
The group started researching and designing the building in August.
Ground broke Feb. 10, a day that saw a record low of -12 degrees. To start work on the foundation, the group had to push the snow away.
That’s compared with this week, when the finishing work was being done in 100 degree heat. Between then and now, the students have put in 12-hour workdays, six days a week.
“A long haul” is how Pinkerton described the past couple of months — but one that was worth it.
“When we get done, we are all going to be relieved and want to celebrate,” she said.
Nearly every facet of the building is linked somehow to sustainable design.
Among the most impressive features is a 30-foot-by-12-foot interior wall covered by more than 10,000 fern. Known as a living wall, it is intended to improve the air quality inside the building and use gray water from the site.
“I hope people realize it is a fun space to be in. It is not a space you are supposed to be bored in,” recent graduate John Myers said. “It’s a building for learning.”
The building also has a wind turbine, solar panels, an electric-vehicle charging station and plants on the rooftop to soak up rain and insulate the building.
The south-facing side of the building is lined with smart glass, which self-tints as the sun shines on it. Behind the glass is a Trombe wall, which will capture the sun’s heat on cold winter days and then release that heat at night. Inside the building is a touch-screen display that monitors the building’s energy inputs and outputs. It also has information on 24 of the building’s green features.
“I would like the public … to have an opportunity to come here and look at these things and think about how they could change their own lives as well, implementing some of these very simple ideas,” Rockhill said.
At 10 a.m. Saturday, Studio 804 and the Kansas University Center for Design Research will hold an open house for the newly constructed building at 2455 Westbrooke Circle on KU’s West Campus. Along with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, the open house will include students and faculty who will be on hand to discuss the building’s many sustainable features.