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KU Architecture's moCOLAB wins Inspirations Award from Contract magazine

Monday, July 13, 2015

LAWRENCE — Two University of Kansas faculty members and 18 architecture students, whose class project transformed a derelict Airstream trailer into a mobile community center they call the moCOLAB, have won the Practice-Based Initiative Award in Contract magazine’s Inspirations competition.

Last month, students Alexandra Dakas and Steven Reyes, both of Arlington Heights, Illinois, and Brianna Sorensen, Rochester, Minnesota, picked up the $1,000 prize. They were enrolled in Associate Professor of Architecture Nils Gore’s third-year architecture studio in spring 2014 which, along with Associate Professor Shannon Criss, did the work. The presentation took place at floor-covering giant Tandus Centiva’s showroom in Chicago. The company is Contract’s partner for the award.

The awards celebrate leadership in socially responsible design among commercial interiors designers and architects. Both commissioned and pro bono works may be submitted in two categories: built projects excluding residential work, and practice-based initiatives that are cause-related and benefit a community or user group.

Competition jurors lauded the moCOLAB, which is shorthand for KU Mobile Collaboratory.

“This project handles the challenge of designing a small space very well. I love the fact that a group of students came together to create such a detailed space, and this brings good design to outreach communities. The level of detail, to one-sixteenth of an inch, blew me away,” said Sara Lundgren of Krueck & Sexton Architects in Chicago.

Krystal Lucero of Edwards + Mulhausen Interior Design, Austin, Texas, added, “I wish I were there to watch them work on the space to see all the time and effort that went into the design. It was built with love, and it wasn’t just thrown together. This space has an impact on how students envision their career.”

“What I’m most proud of isn’t just that our students’ work was judged against firms of international stature in this competition and won,” Gore said. “They worked on this project night and day, some well into the summer vacation, building curved panels and furniture for the interior, doing the wiring, really everything that was necessary to make this a functioning trailer that can be towed and set up somewhere.

“It might be used as an exhibit space, dining room, elementary classroom, conference space, art gallery or science lab,” he said. “It is versatile.”

The moCOLAB was built with funding from a KU Strategic Initiative Level II Grant proposal by Gore and Criss in support of Bold Aspirations, to increase the effectiveness of KU researchers in Kansas communities. The MoCOLAB also won a design award in the 2015 Kansas City AIA’s Monsters of Design competition.

Other students who worked on the project included Adeola Adewale, St. Louis; Allie Bergmann, St. Louis; Doug Dawson, Austin, Texas; Johan Feria Duran, Aurora, Colorado; Austin Griffis, Warrensburg, Missouri; Patrick Henke, Overland Park; Erin Hoffman, Kirkwood, Missouri; Kayleen Lindstrom, St. Charles, Missouri; Jessica Luber, Mission Hills; Elisa Rombold, Junction City; Aaron Rule, Caseyville, Illinois; Dominic Sosinski, Kansas City, Kansas; Frankie Sun, Dalian, Liaoning, China; Riley Uecker, Kansas City, Missouri, and Rachel Wotawa, St. Louis.

Top photo: Exterior view of the moCoco lab.

Photo: From left, students Brianna Sorensen, Rochester, Minnesota; and Alexandra Dakas and Steven Reyes, both of Arlington Heights, Illinois, collect the Practice-Based Initiative Award from Contract magazine’s Inspirations competition.


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