The plaza in front of Wescoe Hall has been lovingly referred to as Wescoe Beach for decades. This year, a group of KU students are making a splash with a proposal to turn the classic building into a real beach party with a rooftop pool.
The concept of the #WescoeRooftopPool began as a humorous crusade on Twitter, which continues to grow with some big names jumping in on the fun, including Athletics Director Jeff Long and former NBA player Scot Pollard, d’97.
“@StudentsofKU had been tweeting about it for a while and made a Photoshop version of it,” says Jordan Yarnell, an architecture senior from Elgin, Illinois. “Someone commented ‘let the architecture students handle this’ so we did. The three of us started to joke about it and then we realized it would be fun and pretty easy to do.”
Yarnell teamed up with fellow architecture students Jordan Vonderbrink, of Eudora, and Aaron Michalicek, of St. Louis, to create the designs. The results are a sight to see:
As fun as it is to dream, it’s worth asking: Could this really happen?
“Short answer is no,” Yarnell says. “We don’t know the structural makeup of Wescoe for what really has to be done. To add 200 thousand gallons of water, another whole floor, a deck, a lot more people, and more concrete, that’s a lot of work.”
Don’t tell Jeff Long, as he appears to be all in. Long has certainly leaned into the joke, teasing the public with promises we don’t exactly expect to come true.
By their senior year at KU, students have taken tests, completed group projects, and are ready for the real world. Or at least they think they are.
For the architects-to-be in Dan Rockhill’s Studio 804 class, their time at KU isn’t complete without putting everything they’ve learned to the test: by designing and building a house by themselves, over the course of a school year.
Rockhill has taught the course to students entering the final year of the Masters of Architecture program at the School of Architecture & Design for 25 years. He’s overseen both private and campus builds in Lawrence, Kansas City, and even Greensburg after a tornado.
Developing work ethic
There are no shortcuts in the process. The class members do everything, with no subcontractors. Rockhill’s students work six days a week in what is almost always their only class. And as an added challenge, Studio 804 students build with sustainability in mind.
“Being eco-friendly has always been a focus, and it’s been an even bigger emphasis now,” said Rockhill. “We strive for our projects to be certified by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). The highest certification is platinum, and we’ve received it on a project 11 times.”
To receive the certification, the project must limit the impact on the environment and surrounding ecosystems. It includes everything from adding solar panels to the roof to using native plants to reduce the amount of rainwater flowing into the storm system.
Every year, Rockhill sees the students develop both their abilities and their work ethic.
“I tell the students that they are smart, they just haven’t been exposed to on-site work yet. They may not know how to do concrete placing, framing or roofing, but you have to really want to do it, focus, work hard and concentrate. It is difficult. When I was their age I found it the same way. They haven’t had that experience yet.”
If there is any question about the benefits of the Studio 804 program, ask potential employers.
“We really do have an international reputation. I‘ll get employers calling from Seattle with 60 applications in hand, asking what I can tell them about a student because they recognize 804. Few students are able to slide a portfolio across the table with pictures of what they actually built. One employer couldn’t believe what a former student said she did in the year, and they called me to verify.”
This year’s house is adjacent to Brook Creek Park in East Lawrence, and it includes a secondary accessory dwelling unit for the owner to use as a guest house. Check out the gallery below for a look at the build process and to see the finished product.
The Kansas Union is full of KU history, but one piece was missing from public view for months. The scaled campus model, featuring a tiny Strong Hall, small Allen Fieldhouse, and minuscule Potter Lake, was undergoing its first major renovation since 2002.
Students Sarah Irby and Will Shadwick, both School of Architecture graduate students, worked on the project. “I committed to it before I saw the model,” Shadwick said. “Once I saw how big it really is, I wasn’t sure what I’d gotten myself into.”
Despite the small size of the campus buildings, the construction process was far from simple. Irby, a’18, and Shadwick, a’8, used blueprints from building constructions to ensure they correctly matched the model’s 1/100 scale.
The technology used to construct the campus replica has certainly changed since the model was last updated. While wood is still used for some features, advancements in 3D printing allowed for plastic modeling of buildings to the 1/100th of an inch.
No amount of technology can replace the time commitment needed to paint windows, replace trees, adjust colors, and all the other details that come with the first renovation in 16 years. “Early on we had to decide what we were going to change, and what we would leave alone,” Shadwick said.
For example, Memorial Stadium still has a track surrounding the field. “With major stadium renovations coming soon, we thought we’d leave that to students later on,” said Shadwick with a smile.
“We’ve been meaning to do this for a long time,” said David Mucci, director of the KU Memorial Union. “These students did a great job.”
Past renovations to the model, a gift from the class of 1962, took pace in 1969, 1971, 1976, 1985, 1987, 1995, and 2002. “Usually it’s a renovation every five years, but with campus changing so rapidly we’d be repeating too often,” Mucci said.
The model is available to view on the third floor of the Kansas Union, near the staircase.
Read more about the KU Memorial Union’s changes in recent years, including its newest student space, Union Square.
Kathy Richardson, solid waste manager for city of Lawrence, was named a winner of the 40 Under 40 award by Waste360, which recognizes young professionals whose work has made a significant contribution waste, recycling and organics industry. Richardson, c’01, earned a bachelor of science degree in biodiversity, ecology and evolutionary biology. Read full article.
Kevin Anderson, a KU law student and U.S. Army Captain, has been named a 2016 Presidential Management Fellow Finalist, one of the most competitive fellowship programs in the nation. More than 6,000 people applied for the fellowship, and less than 10 percent earned the designation. Anderson will graduate from the KU Law School in May 2016. Read full article.
Haskell University has invited Amanda Blackhorse to be the keynote speaker at this year’s commencement ceremony held on May 6. Blackhorse, s’07, earned an associate of arts degree from Haskell in 2004 and went on to graduate from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in social welfare. Read full article.
Mary Jaeger, an engineer turned public servant, will graduate this month with a Master’s of Public Administration degree from the KU Edwards Campus. The fact that she’s a Kansas State University grad didn’t stop her from feeling right at home in the top-ranked program. Read full article.
A group of KU students worked on the ultimate senior project: building a net-zero solar house, which means the house makes enough energy to power itself. The home, located at 1200 Pennsylvania Street in Lawrence, is open for the public to tour on Saturday, May 7, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Read full article.
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