About Studio 804

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Studio 804 students learn by doing. Here students prepare reinforcing for a concrete pour. It was used to stiffen one of The Forum's grade beams. 

Studio 804 students learn by doing. Here students prepare reinforcing for a concrete pour. It was used to stiffen one of The Forum's grade beams. 

Studio 804 is a yearlong, comprehensive educational opportunity for graduate students who are entering the final year of the Masters of Architecture program at the University of Kansas School of Architecture, Design & Planning. During each academic year, students enrolled in this full-time class design and construct a building of great technical sophistication.

During the design phase Studio 804 students gain experience creating construction documents and writing specifications. They develop drawings of the details they will eventually build, giving them insight into the way building materials go together on the site. By working directly with building code officials, professional engineering consultants, materials suppliers, and collaborating with each other they gain the sort of real-world experience that most accumulate only after graduation. 

Once construction begins the work is hands-on, as classes gain something that is exceedingly rare for architecture students: the experience of building what they’ve designed. By graduation they will have used a full range of power and hand tools to do even the most complex jobs themselves. They’ll be pouring concrete, putting up walls and rainscreens, installing windows and green roofs, plumbing fixtures, and mechanical equipment. They’ll do wiring, set up photovoltaic panels, and complete the sheetrocking and painting. In short, there is little about building that students won’t have a chance to experience for themselves.

Dan Rockhill directs Studio 804.

Dan Rockhill directs Studio 804.

Students enrolled in Studio 804 work under the direction of J.L. Constant Professor of Architecture Dan Rockhill. He was given the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture’s 2014 Distinguished Professor Award, and is admired for his resourcefulness, imagination, tireless dedication to his students and ability to motivate them to excel. His vast knowledge of construction technologies enables him to guide his pupils in the research and development of unique construction details that are the envy of professional architects, such as a facade the students wove out of aircraft aluminum for a recent project. Studio 804 uses the Department of Architecture’s East Hills shop, a 65,000 fabrication facility east of Lawrence, as its base of operations and for such things as the prefabrication of small and large-scale construction components.  

Studio 804 is committed to serving the people of Kansas. In 2008 the class built the 547 Arts Center which opened in Greensburg just one year after a tornado destroyed the town. This was followed by the construction of two low-cost house prototypes in Kansas City. In 2011 the studio designed and built the Center for Design Research on KU’s West Campus. In 2012 it completed the Galileo’s Pavilion for Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, and in 2013 built the Hill Engineering Research and Development Center (below), also on the West Campus. All of these buildings have receive LEED Platinum certifications from the U.S. Green Building Council. 

The EcoHawks Research Facility built by Studio 804 was one of Architect magazine's Best New Buildings of 2013.

The EcoHawks Research Facility built by Studio 804 was one of Architect magazine's Best New Buildings of 2013.

In its 20-year history, Studio 804’s work has received recognition in many national and international journals, and won numerous design awards. Most recently the Hill building was featured in the August 2013 issue of Architect, the magazine of the American Institute of Architects. In January 2014 the magazine named it one of the best new buildings of 2013.

Studio 804, Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit organization. See Studio804.com for more information. 

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