LAWRENCE — A new KU facility for collaborative research in sustainable energy will officially “power up” on Saturday, July 16 with a 10:30 a.m. dedication ceremony and a 10 a.m. to noon open house. The public is invited to attend, and refreshments will follow.
The Center for Design Research structure, located on Bob Billings Parkway at Westbrooke Street, is a design-build project of KU’s renowned Studio 804. Dan Rockhill, the J.L. Constant Distinguished Professor of Architecture, leads Studio 804, a program in the School of Architecture, Design and Planning. More than 20 KU students participated in the project as designers, workers and even fundraisers. No public money was required for the construction, which is located on property owned by KU Endowment.
Greg Thomas, professor of design and director of the center, describes it as an incubator for innovations in products and services in the area of “smart energy.” The building features a wind turbine, an electric vehicle charging station, an energy-conserving plant-covered roof, and a vented wall that promotes cross-ventilation in the summer and circulation of warm air in the winter. The building, one of the first LEED platinum-certified buildings in the community, will feature a Westar Energy “smart grid” meter that provides continuous data about energy use at the site. It is the first such meter to be installed in Lawrence.
According to Thomas, the Center for Design Research will encourage collaboration among faculty and students in many disciplines. It will help address challenges and create new knowledge about sustainable practices in fields such as architecture, design, engineering and business. The facility will showcase new technologies and be open to the public to share knowledge developed at the center.
John Gaunt, dean of the School of Architecture, Design and Planning, will host the dedication ceremony. Other speakers include Jeff Vitter, provost and executive vice chancellor; representatives of Westar and the City of Lawrence; and Thomas.
Rockhill will speak on behalf of the Studio 804 team and will introduce the students who worked on the projects. Students will also explain features of the building during the open house. The reception will take place in the adjacent Chamney Barn, and the latest in all-electric vehicles will be on display at the charging station.