Architecture students at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, are granted an opportunity given to few other architecture students in the country. Studio 804 is a one-semes ter, student-run design-build program where students manage all aspects of the building process from initial design through finished construction.

Dan Rockhill, JL Constant distinguished professor of architecture at the University of Kansas, started Studio 804 to enhance students’ education. “Typically, the public thinks that some aspect of hands-on building has to be included in an architect’s education,” he says. “That’s not the case. My goal is to train these young students to be better architects; one way we do that is by affording them a comprehensive experience that includes building.” Focusing primarily on residential construction, one prefabricated modular house is built per spring semester in the Lawrence area. In 2007, students built Modular 4, which received an honorable mention in eco-structure’s inaugural Evergreen Awards’ “greenhouse” category. Although they didn’t set out to do so, the 1,500-square-foot (139-m2) house was built on a brownfield in Lawrence.

“The proximity to amenities in the neighborhood was appealing and the location just happened to be a brownfield site,” Rockhill says. A lot of fill material in the ground had to be removed, then the ground was built back up and the foundation installed. Broad glass panels across the deck face south to allow daylight to infiltrate the house and permit passive-solar space heating in colder months. A rainwater runoff system offers permeable driveway and sidewalk surfaces, allowing water to collect and infiltrate to a gravel bed rather than be pushed into the city sewer.

The cellulose insulation in the walls, floor and ceiling is made from recycled materials. The home also features bamboo flooring, recycled content countertops and drywall, a cool roof and low-E annealed glass. Modular 4’s uniqueness lies in its versatility. A modular interior where walls and closets can move allows the house to be designed and reused in different ways. This adds life to the home because it can be adapted to suit the changing needs and tastes of its residents without using the resources and energy necessary to remodel and rebuild. “You can conceivably have anything from a one- to a three-bedroom home,” Rockhill says. “You can adjust it so there are almost no bedrooms to speak of by moving the closets, which are on wheels. I think it’s important for students to deal with sustainable issues very directly.” Modular 4 exemplifies Studio 804’s commitment to developing responsible architecture and ensuring students leave school with the tools they need to build a sustainable future.


DRYWALL / National Gypsum Co. / Charlotte, N.C.,

DOUBLE CELLULAR SHADES / Levolor / High Point, N.C.,

COUNTERTOPS / Paperstone / Hoquiam, Wash.,

RAIN-WATER-RUNOFF MANAGEMENT / StabiliGrid / Sammamish, Wash.,