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Student-built Field Station gateway earns two honors

Monday, February 10, 2014

A gateway designed and built last spring by Department of Architecture students has earned two awards. The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture gave it, and a shelter that students built in 2012, its Design-Build Award. http://www.acsa-arch.org/docs/default-source/13-14-award-winners/-prairie-earth.pdf?sfvrsn=0

And, the Architect’s Newspaper just gave the structure an honorable mention in the student-built work category of its Best Of Design Awards. http://www.archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=7072

Sixteen third-year students completed the gateway in May. They were enrolled in an Architecture Design course, known informally as DirtWorks Studio. The studio, led by assistant professor Chad Kraus, specializes in projects that use rammed-earth construction.

In rammed-earth construction, formwork filled with soil that is high in clay content is mixed with a small amount of cement and rammed in place using pneumatic-powered compactors. The architecture students did all of the design and construction for the project.

The technique yields beautiful geometric structures with an appearance and texture similar to layered, polished stone. The students added finishing touches of fieldstone and a charred wood, signage, and a steel gate. The clay for the project was harvested at different locations on Field Station land. 

The structure is located at the Field Station’s research and operations center and Armitage Education Center, 350 Wild Horse Road, Jefferson County. It fulfills a key wayfinding function for visitors attending special events and for visiting researchers.

This is the second structure at the Field Station built by DirtWorks. The first, the Stanley D. and Janet B. Roth Trailhead, built in 2012, won two awards from the American Institute of Architects. The gateway is the fourth project commissioned by the Kansas Biological Survey at the Field Station through the KU School of Architecture, Design & Planning.

“We’re deeply appreciative of our mutually beneficial collaborations with the Kansas Biological Survey,” Kraus said. “They are courageous clients who support the hands-on experience that we, as educators, want to provide for our students—who have poured their passion, creativity and ingenuity into these works of architecture in the hope that they will have contributed something real and tangible to their community.”

Students in the class who designed and built the gateway are as follows: Damon Baltuska, Lenexa; Melody Benyamen, Cairo; Michael Burch, Emily Held and Scott Moran, St. Louis; Zac Dawson, Roscoe, Ill.; Ryan Falk, Onaga; Justin Gomez, St. Peters, Mo.; Maria Guerrero, Olathe; Benjamin Jensen, Leawood; Lindsey Jones, Lawrence; Jim McLarty, Eureka, Mo.; Lauren Reinhart, Parkville, Mo.; Kevin Staten, Kirkwood, Mo.; Scott Stoops, Ottawa; and Tu Tran, Kansas City, Mo.

The KU Field Station totals about 3,400 acres across 10 tracts in Douglas, Jefferson and Anderson counties. It is managed by the Kansas Biological Survey, which was established at KU in 1911