Rockhill Doubleheader: This month we explore the latest handiwork by the students of Dan Rockhill’s Studio 804

Posted on September 21, 2010

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Best Green Houses

Studio 804 at the University of Kansas School of Architecture and Urban Planning

By David Sokol,Via:greensource.construction.com
In addition to heading his firm Rockhill + Associates, Dan Rockhill runs Studio 804, an optional design-build studio for students completing their M.Arch degrees at the University of Kansas School of Architecture and Urban Planning. In last month’s Best Green Houses column, Rockhill discussed minimizing a building’s exposure to the northerly winds that whip through the Midwest in wintertime, applying only enough voids to permit natural ventilation. He added, “Eliminating north-facing windows altogether and having operable skylights is another thing to do.” You may also recall Rockhill’s admission that budgets on Rockhill + Associates’ single-family homes have precluded using active sustainable technologies.
Studio 804, however, recently attempted both moves. The result is 3716 Springfield, a home in the 1920s-era Rosedale neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas…
Photo courtesy Dan Rockhill / Studio 804

… 3716 Springfield follows closely on the heels of The Sustainable Prototype, a tough rectilinear volume tapered at its entry, which Studio 804 created for the tornado-ravaged town of Greensburg, Kansas. The project provided that community with its first new public space after the storm, and introduced the first LEED Platinum–rated building in the state. “We were beating our chests, and then we got to thinking that there’s a not a single LEED-for-Homes project in the Kansas City metro area.” The effort in Rosedale was an attempt to rectify the situation, and currently, its own Platinum certification is pending…

Photo courtesy Dan Rockhill / Studio 804

… In both its rectilinear plan and appearance, the infill home almost resembles a barn, although voids like double-height glazing on the western elevation and a second-floor balcony, are pulled from the skin. The northern elevation is devoid of openings but for apertures that allow natural ventilation to exit…

Photo courtesy Dan Rockhill / Studio 804

… The exterior is actually an FSC-certified hardwood rain screen. Doulgas fir lumber reclaimed from a deconstructed Sunflower Ammunition Plant warehouse comprises structural supports and interior walls …

Photo courtesy Dan Rockhill / Studio 804

… The four-bedroom house highlights several passive-design techniques. The open-plan ground floor rests on a sealed concrete slab that provides thermal mass. The galley kitchen opens to south-facing glass shaded by louvers that allow heat gain during winter. A dramatically glassy west wall also sports sunscreens, as well as insulated rolling shades. Wet-pack blown cellulose insulation achieves R-20 in the exterior-wall assembly and R-38 in the roof…

Photo courtesy Dan Rockhill / Studio 804

… Thanks to its deployment of active sustainable technologies—notably a 600-square-foot, 4.8-kilowatt rooftop photovoltaic array and a residential wind turbine—3716 Springfield should produce more energy than it consumes during the day. The net-metered house also includes a ground-source heat pump that stabilizes the interior climate…

Photo courtesy Dan Rockhill / Studio 804

… The add-ons raised the cost of 3716 Springfield to approximately $750,000, a number Rockhill determines by adding Studio 804’s hard costs, contributions, and the value of student labor. The house was originally listed at $350,000—still outside the range of the typical starter house in the area. “We’re near KU Medical Center, and surely there will be somebody who moves here who looks at that price and must buy it,” Rockhill rationalizes…

Photo courtesy Dan Rockhill / Studio 804

… Just not yet. The price has since dropped almost eight percent, with prospective buyers feeling unenthusiastic about the neighborhood—rather than the house. Even so, Rockhill says, “As I say to my students, ‘If we don’t do it, who will?’ Let’s try getting people interested in modern architecture and talking about sustainable design.”

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