KU’s Studio 804 ready to show off 2 new homes in eastern Lawrence

photo by: Mike Yoder

The view from the intersection of Summit Street and Oak Hill Avenue shows the 615 square-foot 1501 Oak Hill Ave. at left and the 925-square-foot 1503 Oak Hill Ave at right. The homes are two compact footprints on a traditionally single lot in the Brook Creek neighborhood.

Two new sleek and minimalist homes built in eastern Lawrence’s Brook Creek neighborhood are ready to join a long list of homes designed by University of Kansas students.

Since August, 15 KU architecture students participating in the Studio 804 program have been building the two new homes and will soon share them with the public. The homes — located at 1501 and 1503 Oak Hill Ave. — will be on display for prospective buyers from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

“We designed homes that we found to be buildable, cost effective and — if we can say so ourselves — beautiful,” said Jared Heinzerling, one of the KU students who built the home.

photo by: Mike Yoder

Daniel Ritchie, University of Kansas fifth-year architecture student, touches up a living room wall in the 1503 Oak Hill Avenue house. The home is one of two single residence homes being completed this month by Studio 804 students. The 1503 home is 925 square feet with two bedrooms and one bath.

Studio 804 is a KU architecture class, with an associated not-for-profit corporation, that challenges a new group of students each year to design and build their own sustainable home projects from the ground up. The program has built and sold many homes in Lawrence since 1995, with the profits going back to the program.

One of the main ideas the students focused on with these new structures was building homes that are more affordable, said Emilie Printemps, a student from France who specifically came to KU for the Studio 804 program. Although affordability is listed as one of the missions of the program, last year the program built two structures on a property that was listed for $479,000.

“One of the biggest backlashes we got was last year’s home was a little on the higher side and raising (the neighborhood’s) property taxes,” Heinzerling said.

So this year before designing the homes, the students met with the Brook Creek Neighborhood Association to make sure they built structures that would fit in with the rest of the neighborhood. The students chose to build two separate homes in a more modest nature that are comparable to the rest of the community and listed them at lower prices.

The smaller home, 1501, features one bedroom, one bathroom, 615 square feet of living space and is listed for sale at $229,000. The larger home, 1503, features two bedrooms, one bathroom, 925 square feet of living space and is listed for sale at $279,000.

The exteriors mostly use steel, which helps reflect light from the home and keep the interior cool. The students also added wood paneling, made from sassafras trees in Missouri. Printemps said the mixture of metal and wood was chosen because of efficiency, but also to match the neighborhood.

photo by: Mike Yoder

The 950-square-foot home at 1503 Oak Hill Avenue, the 2018-19 project for University of Kansas Studio 804 architecture students, is pictured Tuesday, May 14, 2019.

photo by: Mike Yoder

Sassafras siding and decking is featured in both Oak Hill Avenue houses.

Additionally, the minimalist design — using hard lines and boxlike structures — is based on a trend in modern home building, Heinzerling said.

“We want everything to be intentional and clean,” Heinzerling said. “We try to avoid the flash and bang of a lot of other designs and … continue the language of a simple, yet elegant, home.”

The facade of the home features a large glass wall, which serves a stylistic, functional and sustainable purpose, allowing sunlight directly into the living areas.

Printemps said the glass walls were strategically placed facing the south to make sure they would allow more sunlight into the home during the winter, when the direct sunlight comes in from the south house, and less light during the summer, when direct sunlight comes in above the house.

The walls of the structures are also thicker than those of usual homes, which will help trap heat during the winter months and cool air in the summer months. These features will help keep energy costs down.

While Heinzerling said he would not know how low of an energy bill the homes would generate on a monthly basis until someone moved in, he said previous homes in the program have electric bills as low as $17. But he noted some of those homes used solar panels, which the students did not do this year.

photo by: Mike Yoder

KU architecture students Blake Firkins, left, and Joe Libeer, right, stand in the living room of the 925-square-foot home at 1503 Oak Hill Avenue, a 2018-19 Studio 804 project.

The homes have many more features visitors will be able to see if they visit the open house, such as special doors with small slats that allow air to pass through to mitigate air movement when doors open and the kitchen countertops made from compacted recycled newspapers.

“We’re really proud of all the small details,” Heinzerling said.

photo by: Mike Yoder

The kitchen inside 1503 Oak Hill Avenue as viewed from one of the two bedrooms in the 925-square-foot house. Interior floors are of white oak.

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