KU architecture class unveils new sustainable house in East Lawrence

Studio 804 students plan open house Saturday at 1200 Pennsylvania St.

This file photo from May 2, 2016 shows a bank of solar panels atop a house project by the University of Kansas' Studio 804 architecture class, at 1200 Pennsylvania St.

Cedar siding milled from old railroad trestles and countertops made of marble from a 1930 Kansas City office building serve two functions in the new Studio 804 house.

The repurposed materials look unique, and they support the house’s mission of sustainability.

Kansas University architecture graduate students this week are putting finishing touches on the newly constructed house at 1200 Pennsylvania St. It’s the latest design-build project of KU’s Studio 804 class.

The two-bedroom, two-bathroom house with a detached garage is designed to meet two sustainable building standards, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum and the Passive House Institute standards, according to the KU School of Architecture.

The house is situated on a corner lot, actually a lot and a half, in East Lawrence.

That’s one thing that makes this year’s house unique, architecture professor Dan Rockhill said. The extra space is large enough for a south-facing courtyard that’s both visually appealing and that the house wraps around in an L-shape, enabling windows to be positioned so breezes and sunlight from the best directions can flow in for natural climate control.

“It makes a difference for us,” Rockhill said. “We’re always looking to find clever ways to promote sustainability.”

Alyssa Johnston, an architecture master’s student from George West, Texas, took a break from landscaping Monday to share some highlights of the house:

• Marble countertops in the kitchen, bathrooms and incorporated into built-ins in the master bedroom are from the historic 909 Walnut building in downtown Kansas City, Mo. Students resurfaced the marble to create a unique matte finish.

• Almost every room features commercial windows — that go all the way to the floor — looking out onto the courtyard. To capture the best natural circulation, the opening parts of the living room windows are situated near the floor on the south side and near the ceiling on the north side of the room, so warm air that rises will be able to escape.

“The idea is that the dominant breezes in the summertime can go through,” she said.

• Barn door-style sliding panels on the house’s exterior can be closed to block west and south sunlight in the hottest months.

• Solar panels on the roof will supply the house with nearly all the electricity it needs.

• Bedrooms feature built-in storage with maple cabinetry and shelves, matching the cabinetry in the kitchen.

• The house is ADA-accessible, and the master bathroom has a large roll-in shower.

• As the house is built on a slab, there’s a concrete storm shelter in back by the garage.

The house at 1144 Pennsylvania St., just across the street from the one being unveiled this week, was also a Studio 804 project, in 1999.

Studio 804 is an architecture class, with an associated not-for-profit corporation, in which students annually design and build a building themselves from the ground up.

Once complete, homes are sold. Rockhill said there’s a contract pending on the new house at 1200 Pennsylvania St..

Studio 804 also has constructed buildings for public entities, including the Forum lecture hall addition to KU’s Marvin Hall and the Galileo’s Pavilion building at Johnson County Community College.

Open house

A public open house for the new Studio 804 house at 1200 Pennsylvania is planned for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.