This sustainable prototype is a collaboration between Studio 804 and the 5.4.7 Arts Center in Greensburg, KS. It was completed by the one year anniversary of the tornado that devastated the town. Although the building was developed for the long term use by the Arts Center, its immediate use as the first completed public facility serving as a beacon for the community and its ambitious rebuilding efforts.
Following the tornado, the Greensburg City Council passed a resolution requiring all publicly funded City buildings to be rebuilt to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Platinum level of certification. Although the Arts Center was not built with public funds it was decided to build to the highest LEED certification level. It is the first LEED Platinum building completed in the state of Kansas.
It is a simple shoe box form divided by the entry cross axis at about the 1/3rd point. The larger portion to the right of the entry houses a conference room and a gallery which can be used to display art or with temporary chairs become a meeting hall. The smaller portion includes the rest rooms, an office and a small kitchen that can be used to support events. Adjacent to the kitchen is a staircase leading to a large basement that can be used for storage and holds the building’s mechanical systems.
For a community meeting hall and an art gallery to coexist in the same small building and to use passive sustainable strategies meant that there were some inherent incompatibilities to overcome. Foremost was the desire to have a building that would open to the town and to the southern sun while protecting the art from the sun’s UV rays – not only to keep the art from being damaged but to make for a comfortable viewing environment. The final design solution allows gatherings to spill through a set of high performance sliding glass doors onto the expansive buffalo grass lawn to the south. A four-inch concrete slab was poured on the floor frame that spans the basement and would acts as a solar mass warmed by the winter sun that enters the large south exposure. This passive heat gain combined with a geo-thermal ground source heat pump keeps the building’s winter heating demands minimal.
The sliding glass doors are coated with a UV film to protect the contents of the building from the sun’s damaging rays but more was needed to allow the occupants to control heat gain as well as have the option to darken the space for presentations or open it for parties – especially in the evening. The key to this was to find a flexible, easily operated, manually controllable way to open and close the south wall. After discussing many options, we ended up in contact with a supplier of airplane hangar doors. They were interested in seeing their product used in a new way and we were interested in the possibility of having one large door that would open at the push of a button and reach out and engage the community directly. They supplied the mechinisms to assure it would work and we designed the door. Its steel frame creates louvers calculated to shade the sun during the hotter months.
The University of Kansas Department of Architecture invites applications for Studio 804, a comprehensive one-year, fully hands-on design-build experience for students who are at an advanced stage in their studies and committed to the continued research and development of affordable, sustainable and inventive building solutions. Students enrolled in Studio 804 work full time to design and build a new building every year. The widely-published program, under the direction of Distinguished Professor Dan Rockhill, has produced ten LEED Platinum buildings, three of which are Passive House-certified. To learn more, visit studio804.com and architecture. ku.edu/studio804. The university accepts transfers, 4+2 grads, B.Arch grads, M.Arch grads, or professionals — anyone who wants to be a better architect by having had the experience of designing and constructing a sophisticated building in its entirety from the ground up.