Shade structure made of recycled materials in Lawrence park wins 2 architecture awards

photo by: Dylan Lysen

The Kaw Pavilion, a shade structure in Lawrence's Burroughs Creek Trail and Linear Park, is pictured on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020.

A shade structure recently constructed in a Lawrence park is now an award-winning piece of architecture.

Lawrence City Manager Craig Owens reported to the City Commission on Tuesday that the Kaw Pavilion shade structure in Burroughs Creek Trail and Linear Park was recently recognized for its unique design and focus on sustainability.

The structure — which features donated and recycled items, including former road signs arranged to create an image of a prairie fire on the grassland next to the creek — was one of eight projects to win the Architecture MasterPrize student “Green Architecture” award. It also won a merit award in the professional category for “Small Architectural Project” from the American Institute of Architects Kansas Design Awards.

Owens called the structure a “distinctive and unique” piece of the East Lawrence park, which is at 900 E. 15th St.

“It is something that can’t help but catch anybody’s eye who has driven by it,” Owens said Tuesday. “Obviously some experts in the field think that’s special too.”

The structure was designed and constructed in the spring of 2019 by students in the University of Kansas’ School of Architecture and Design as a collaborative project with the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department. Keith Van de Riet, a KU assistant professor of architecture who led the class project, said the architecture program was “extremely honored” to win the awards.

“I’m proud of the project, the students and our design-build traditions at KU,” Van de Riet said. “We’re fortunate to have the opportunity to work on these projects – with so many community partners and businesses that support our educational mission at KU.”

Van de Riet told the Journal-World in May 2019 that the students designed the structure to reflect the sustainable and environmental spirit of the East Lawrence neighborhood. The image on the structure was designed using pieces of a red stop sign for the fire, a yellow bike path sign for the burning fields, green city street signs for the prairie and blue county street signs for the creek.

Along with the shade structure, the KU students carved stones showing the native prairie species, including sunflowers, rattlesnake master plant, cottonwood and river birch trees, a watershed map of Kansas and a variety of animals and insects that may live in the planned wetlands.

The structure is part of the Prairie Block project, a community-led plan to restore native prairie and wetlands to Lawrence’s urban setting along Burroughs Creek.

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