Lawrence Creates Makerspace to celebrate new solar power awning during Final Friday

Organizers of the Lawrence Creates Makerspace, 512 E. Ninth Street, say that the recently installed solar awnings on the east side of the building have generated enough power to reduce their monthy utility bill by 20. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

Lawrence Creates Makerspace, 512 E. 9th St., will be combining art with science at “Art Under the Awning” at the building during Final Friday this week in celebration of its new solar power awning.

Visitors can expect to see an LED light show flash against the building, bringing attention to the solar panel awning. Inside, Makerspace members will be showing their artwork and innovations to the public.

“Makerspace attracts the most creative people,” Makerspace director Eric Kirkendall said.

The awning is made up of high-density silica and a solar photovoltaic sensor, said David Thiel, office manager of Good Energy Solutions Inc., which installed the system. Solar photovoltaic sensors are the technical term for solar panels, Thiel said.

“Some people call it ‘solar power,'” Thiel said. “I call it free electricity.”

The awning serves a dual purpose, both shading the building from the sun and providing power, Thiel said.

“This awning is successfully helping them save money on utility bills so they can focus on creating space for tomorrow’s artists, engineers and dreamers,” Thiel said.

Kirkendall said the addition of the awning fit well with Makerspace’s mission.

“Balance between the genders, art and technology is really important to us,” Kirkendall said. “If you get too nerdy too fast, you lose the women. If you get too artsy, you lose the men.”

Kirkendall said the celebration will reflect that balance and encourage the community to get creative.

“We’re really trying to push boundaries,” Kirkendall said. “We set this up because we believe the town’s creativity is Lawrence’s advantage.”

The Art Under the Awning event will run this Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. It is free and open to the public.