Graduate students create Renaissance in the Northeast

Northeast News
June 4, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Missouri – On the outside, run down buildings surrounded by chain link fences and dilapidated sign with letters missing.

But with a dream, and some examples, students from the capstone architecture graduate studio Design + Make at Kansas State University presented and what could be for the Hardesty Renaissance Mobile Office.

Led by David Dowell, AIA, a principal with El Dorado inc., the students were tasked last fall to design and develop a sustainable, cost effective, and aesthetically appropriate leasing office. The furniture, most of which is recycled, was designed to be reconfigured to support community gatherings and other activities. In the spring semester, the students fabricated two work desks, a conference table, credenza, media cart and display wall..

Students said they were excited to help Hardesty Renaissance, which sits at the intersection of Independence and Hardesty Avenues. Dowel said the year-long project started with a conversation with Jim Turner, director of the Hardesty Renaissance Economic Development Corporation. The Hardesty Renaissance project plans to redevelop the former Hardesty Federal Complex site, 607 Hardesty Ave. According to its website, the plan is to revitalize the site, “creating new jobs and being one of the catalysts that helps Northeast Kansas City become a sustainable place.”

With a budget of about $7,500, Dowel said the students embraced the multi-building office configuration. The students recycled material to create the office atmosphere.

“This was a great project for the students because it was the first time they’ve dealt with budgets and clients and worked together in a group,” Dowel said.

In the beginning, Dowel said the students didn’t have all the information needed for the project. The students had to define their problem and work around it with the client. He added that in architectural projects, it’s easy for one student to break away to become the heroic individual instead of working with the team.

“The students really worked together well,” Dowel said.

Students Cory Meyer and Katie Bauer said their mobile office is the catalyst for what Hardesty Renaissance wants to do. They appreciated the opportunity to take the first stab at the revitalization.

“This project brings more reality into what we’re trying to do,” Turner said, adding soon he’ll be able to show the space to potential tenants with the possibility of what the inside could look like. “Then we would begin to see an economic impact and provide more for the community. This is all very important because in 15 years, the community will have an asset and not a liability.”

Meyer and Bauer said they’ll be able to walk away from this project with a better understanding of architectural theory.

“What we learned with this project, you don’t typically find in traditional academia,” Meyer said.

“The real world experience is what attracted me to the project,” Bauer said.

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