May 20, 2004

Contact: Dan Rockhill, School of Architecture and Urban Design, (785) 393-0747.

Architecture students to hold open house at home they built in Kansas City, Kan.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- For Dan Rockhill's graduate architecture students at the University of Kansas, their master's degree is a house.

Those 20 students will host a public open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 22, at the structure they designed and built as a Studio 804 class project. The house is about five blocks west of the KU Medical Center, 39th and Rainbow Boulevard in Kansas City, Kan.

They spent the past five months preparing, planning, designing and constructing the 1,200-square-foot Modular 1 house, which is both a group master's thesis and an affordable single-family home. The two-bedroom wood-frame dwelling was prebuilt in five 12-by-20-foot sections in a Lawrence warehouse, then trucked to its site in the Rosedale area of Kansas City, Kan., for final assembly.

The project is a cooperative venture of the Studio 804 class in the KU School of Architecture and Urban Design and two Kansas City, Kan., nonprofit community development organizations: City Vision Ministries (CVM) and Rosedale Development Association (RDA). In the partnership, the students handled the design and house construction processes. CVM and RDA paid for materials, provided site work and coordinated neighborhood and municipal compliance issues with the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan. Details are being completed to sell the house to a person who meets CVM-RDA income qualifications.

Because the steeply sloping 150-by-150-foot site was considered almost unbuildable, no residence had been built there before, said Jonathan Birkel, CVM vice president for real estate development. The angled placement of the house with a cantilevered steel deck overlooking a stream and a tree-shaded bluff at the north end of the street "made the simple form dynamic and closes out the street with something special," Birkel said. "They did a fantastic job. Having to design a house that had to be transported complicated it times two."

The Studio 804 house is in the Rainbow Park Gateway neighborhood, where houses offered as part of the CVM-RDA efforts sell for $128,000 to $142,000. Birkel said he expects this house's selling price to be between $140,000 and $150,000. Students estimated costs to build the house at about $121,000.

The 2004 effort is the ninth project and the sixth house built by the students in Studio 804. Rockhill, professor of architecture and urban design, set up the program in 1995 as a nonprofit corporation to give hands-on training to architecture students. Through the years, it consistently has earned national recognition and significant awards. The 2003 Studio 804 house, at 1718 Atherton Court in Lawrence, won the $25,000 grand prize for Creative Integration of Practice and Education, given by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. The award funds went into the Studio 804 nonprofit corporation.

Other class efforts have included single-family houses at 1603 Random Road, 216 Alabama St., 933 Pennsylvania St. and 1144 Pennsylvania St., all in Lawrence; a hollow-tube steel canopy for Marvin Hall that houses the KU architecture school in Lawrence; an artists' studio near Lawrence; and the roof restoration of Barber School at Clinton Lake in Douglas County.

The newest home differs from previous years' projects in two ways: For the first time the house is not located in Lawrence, and it was designed in the form of housing modules intended to be built in a Lawrence warehouse, transported and put in place on-site.

In creating the new residences, Studio 804 students each year aim to design a low-maintenance, durable, affordable house, often using salvaged, discounted or recycled items and materials that are renewable, energy-efficient or environmentally friendly in innovative ways. Handicap accessibility, efficient use of space and versatile options for the eventual homeowners are other goals.

No student is boss. Every design decision is collaborative, often with sharp opinions about everything from selection and fabrication of materials to choosing the front doorbell cover. Each student had assigned construction and management responsibilities they had to juggle around families, class schedules and other jobs to support their education. For at least the past two months, the students had to travel daily from Lawrence to Kansas City, Kan., to do their work. Not all have undergraduate degrees in architecture. Few had previous construction experience -- and most finish materials in the house had to be custom-cut before they could be put together.

The Studio 804 house includes two bedrooms, a bathroom, utility room with laundry, kitchen and living room.

For more detailed information, including directions to the house, parking guidelines, a week-by-week timeline, a downloadable house brochure and a list of student responsibilities about the Studio 804 project, plus general information about Studio 804, visit

All Studio 804 students this year are master's degree students in architecture. Their names, hometowns, parents' names and high schools attended (when available) are:

From Lawrence and New Orleans, La.
Danielle Brooks; O. Perry Walker High School, New Orleans.

From Newton
Hallye Chau, daughter of Lan Duong; Newton High School.

From Olathe
Michael Haas, son of Chuck and Jean Haas; Bear Creek High School, Lakewood, Colo.

From Prairie Village
Nathan Couch, son of Peggy Couch; Bishop Miege High School.

From Leavenworth and Bullhead City, Ariz.
Troy Ramirez; Mohave High School, Bullhead City, Ariz.

From Leavenworth
Will Robarge, son of Ed and Janey Robarge; Leavenworth High School.

From Wichita
Nick Owings, son of Peggy Owings; Wichita North High School. David Parks; Wichita Northwest High School.

From Wichita and Oroville, Calif.
Wade Gardner, Oroville, Calif., son of J.W. and Peggy Gardner; Wichita Southeast High School.

From Bullhead City
Troy Ramirez, Leavenworth, Kan.; Mohave High School.

From Oroville and Wichita, Kan.
Wade Gardner, son of J.W. and Peggy Gardner, Wichita, Kan.; Wichita Southeast High School.

From Boulder and Montrose
Brooke Knappenberger, daughter of Linda Knappenberger, Boulder, and Clifford Knappenberger, Montrose; Broomfield High School.

From Litchfield
Brian Finan, son of Doyle Finan; Litchfield High School.

From Barrington
Adam Gumowski, son of David and Mary Jo Gumowski; Barrington High School.

From East Dundee
Anne Painter, daughter of Tom and Marilyn Painter; Dundee-Crown High School, Carpentersville, Ill.

From Hinsdale
Tony Onesti, son of Barbara Onesti; Hinsdale Central High School.

From New Orleans and Lawrence, Kan.
Danielle Brooks, Lawrence, Kan.; O. Perry Walker High School.

From Chesterfield
Gregory Keppel, son of Robert and Mary Keppel; Parkway Central High School.

From Raytown
Zach Allee; Raytown South High School.

From St. Louis
Jeff Goode; Parkway North High School.

From Norman
Jennifer DeWitt, daughter of Donald and Beverly DeWitt; Norman High School.

From Dallas
Kevin Mut, son of Stuart and Marta Mut; Jesuit College Preparatory of Dallas.

Kai Raab; Col. Zadok Magruder High School, Rockville, Md.


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