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.
Find out what fellow Jayhawks are up to in our weekly edition of “In the News.” It’s like an online version of Class Notes.If you’ve seen Jayhawks in the news who should be featured, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Labette County District Judge Jeffry L. Jack has been appointed to sit with the Kansas Supreme Court to hear oral arguments in one case on the court’s Tuesday docket. Jack was appointed a Labette County district judge in 2005. He graduated from the KU School of Law in 1987. Read full article.
Gregory Benefiel was confirmed as the next McPherson County Attorney Thursday evening. Benefiel, l’06, is currently an assistant attorney general for the state of Kansas in the criminal litigation division. Read full article.
Mahesh Daas, dean of the University of Kansas School of Architecture and Design (Arc/D), and the school’s Dean’s Advisory Board have announced the names of Arc/D’s inaugural Distinguished Alumni Awards. They are furniture designer Wendell Castle, designer and community planner Silvia Vargas, and architect Jim Walters. The Young Architect-Designer Award recipients are architects Justin Cratty and Kenneth Simmons. Read full article.
Visual artist Nick Strange’s life revolves around his art. Strange, a University graduate who majored in visual art with an emphasis on printmaking, recently returned to his alma mater to design the solar eclipse promotional posters seen around campus. Read full article.
Andy Hyland didn’t win when he appeared on “Jeopardy!” and in a way, maybe that’s a good thing. Hyland, who is an assistant director of strategic communications at the University of Kansas, was a contestant on the game show episode that aired Monday, Sept. 18. Read full article.
A new restaurant opened on Mass Street in downtown Lawrence recently. Stonewall Restaurant and Pizzeria features a unique combination of authentic New York-style pizza and home-cooked classics like fried chicken options. Joe Kieltyka, a University alumnus from New York City who opened and operated the original Stonewall Pizza in Lenexa in the late ’70s, co-owns and operates the restaurant. Read full article.
Bill James, baseball historian and analytics pioneer, and his daughter and researcher Rachel McCarthy James, chronicled a 15-year killing spree in small-town America that they believe was committed by one serial killer who hopped on and off trains. Read full article.
Stephen McAllister, a distinguished professor at the University’s law school, was nominated to serve as the United States Attorney for the District of Kansas by President Donald Trump on Sept. 8. McAllister earned his bachelor’s from the University in 1985, and went on to graduate from the University’s law school in 1988. Read full article.
The University of Kansas has changed significantly over the past 20 years. Alumni, including Alumni Association staff member Jennifer Sanner, reflect on the changes in this feature from the Kansan, part of a larger special feature about the decade. Read full article.
Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises has named R.J. Melman as the new president of Chicago’s largest restaurant group. His father, Rich Melman, founded the company 46 years ago. The younger Melman earned a degree in political science from KU in 2001. Read full article.
Allen County, Kansas, has been named as a 2017 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize winner. Dave Toland, executive director of Thrive Allen County and a graduate of the university, shares more about what the prize means. Read full article.
Have you heard news about a fellow Jayhawk, or maybe you have news of your own to share? Email us at email@example.com, or fill out our Class Notes form to be included in a future issue of Kansas Alumni magazine. Read more about newsworthy Jayhawks.
In addition, the Young Architect-Designer Award honors architects and designers who graduated from KU less than a decade ago who have already demonstrated leadership and significant contributions to their profession. Those recipients are architects Justin Cratty and Kenneth Simmons.
A jury chose the winners from nominations, submitted by Arc/D alumni and friends, which detailed the nominees’ accomplishments in leadership, public service and their professional achievements. The awards framework was developed by the Alumni Experience Committee of the Dean’s Advisory Board.
“Among our 11,000 alumni there are innumerable people whose achievements are extraordinary,” Daas said. “And our honorees’ accomplishments personify our vision to be ‘the pioneering force for global impact through design.’”
The awards will be given at Arc/D’s Fly High Banquet on Oct. 27. That celebration follows the school’s second annual Alumni Symposium, a daylong campus event when alumni will make presentations on the theme of “The 12,000 Who Transform.”