July 6, 2004

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Contact: Dennis Sander, School of Architecture and Urban Design, (785) 864-4128, dsander@ku.edu.

KU professors to go to France to present design for Le Mans auto racing museum

LAWRENCE -- An associate professor of architecture at the University of Kansas plans a July 9 trip to Le Mans, France, hoping to win approval for his design for a new auto racing museum there. He wants to showcase the 24-hour marathon car race, which attracts hundreds of thousands every June about 100 miles south of Paris.

Dennis Sander will take plans and photographs of a design model, assembled by 16 third-year architecture students, before the race's governing board. He'll propose a tourist attraction he thinks will suitably display the grandeur of the legendary event, held since 1923. As long as he can remember, Sander has been an enthusiastic Le Mans race fan, and he thinks the race needs a signature museum.

His multilevel stainless steel and glass, 530,000 square-foot design is 10 times the size of the present museum, built in 1991. Inside would be a walk-through track replica with 240 race car models, IMAX and multiplex theatres to seat about 6,800, auditorium, library, archives, educational center, car restoration facilities, and other interactive and documentary venues. He compared the museum's role as a versatile facility to KU's Lied Center.

Two architecture faculty members who have worked with the KU program for architecture students in Paris will accompany Sander: Wojciech Lesnikowski, who is the Don and Mary Bole Hatch distinguished professor of architecture and urban design, and Philippe Barriere, associate professor who received his doctorate in architecture from the Sorbonne in Paris. They, along with Sophie Delahaye, doctoral student in French from Bretigny sur Orge, France, will assist with presentation, interpretation and translation.

Sander describes the design as a "giant glass-covered two-story airplane fuselage with a floor system cascading down a hill," sited on a meadow adjacent to the racetrack. The 1,320-foot-long structure has 21-foot ceilings that rise from 81 feet above ground at its lowest point to 155 feet, representing an incline that also satisfies handicapped-accessibility requirements. Underneath the main floor is a garage substructure suitable for auto rejuvenation, among other uses.

During the spring 2004 semester, Sander's 16 architecture students put together a miniature replica of the Le Mans track, a 22-foot, 1,000-pound glue-laminated birch plywood project in nine sections. The track was designed to a 1:43 scale, an atypical architectural scale but one that is common to model cars. To prepare for their work, they studied photographs, maps and "Le Mans," the 1971 film starring Steve McQueen. Each student purchased two model race cars of Le Mans winners, including Ferraris, Jaguars, Peugeots, Maseratis, Audis, Bentleys, Porsches and Corvettes, to display on their track along with those in Sander's collection. Although the racetrack model has been disassembled and won't make the trip to France, it is the basis for the drawings and photographs Sander and the KU team will present to the race organizers in July in France.

The KU group is scheduled to meet at the race headquarters in Le Mans with Jean-Claude Plassart, president of Automobile Club de l'Ouest, sponsor of the the race. Sanders said he has scheduled four more presentations while in France. The trip has funding from International Programs through the KU Center for Research Inc.

If approved and funded, Sander said, the project might take six or eight years to build. He estimated the project's construction costs at between $170 million and $200 million.

Sander joined the KU faculty about 25 years ago and, as a registered architect, has completed about 300 architectural projects in his career, including two large aquariums in New York and Mexico.

As part of the architecture class assignment and in addition to assembling the track replica, each student created designs and individual models for the Le Mans museum. Sander will take slides of their work with him to France. Participants in the Le Mans model design activity, all third-year architecture students, their hometowns, parents' names and high schools are:

From Overland Park
Nathan Paul Rosemann, son of Don and Gail Rosemann; Blue Valley North High School.
Sarah Kathleen Spence, daughter of Tom and Shirley Spence, Blue Valley High School.

From Osage City
Kellie Michele Johnson, daughter of Ron and Pam Johnson; Osage City High School.

From Topeka
Juliann Danielle Lind, daughter of James and Maryellen Lind; Hayden High School.

From Buffalo Grove
Eric R. Closson, son of Randi Closson; Adlai E. Stevenson High School.

From Freeburg
Jennifer Leigh Borton, daughter of C. Leonard and Carolyn Borton; Freeburg High School.

From Park Ridge
Elizabeth Ann Pahlke, daughter of Arthur and Joann N. Pahlke; Maine Township High School South.

From Fenton
Sarah Ann Klittich, daughter of David and Christine N. Klittich; Lutheran High School South.

From Florissant
Jessica Christine Davis, daughter of Roger and Theresa Davis; Hazelwood East High School.

From St. Charles
Megan Beth Cartwright, daughter of Steven and Karen Cartwright; St. Charles East High School.

From St. James
Jeffrey David Verkamp, son of David and Danielle Verkamp; John F. Hodge High School.

From St. Louis
Jill Maria Allen, daughter of John and Mary Anne Allen; Nerinx Hall High School.
William Whitfield Bourne, son of William and Sharon Bourne; St. Louis University High School.
Daniel Steven Carroll, son of Steve and Laura Carroll; Mehlville Senior High School.
Margaret Mary Richter, daughter of Robert and Martha Richter; Cor Jesu Academy.

From Wildwood
Allison Dubois Johnson, daughter of Randall and Rita Johnson; Eureka, Mo., High School.


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