Sustainable Residence

Architype Dialogue presents

Dan Rockhill

What was the most difficult issue about working on this building or the most unexpected challenge that may have influenced new thought in your project?

I design and build these projects with students who are enrolled in our graduate program at the University of Kansas. Working with young people that have no experience is both the most difficult but also the most enjoyable aspect of the work.

Did this project expand or evolve your role as an architect in any way? In general, do you feel that the role of the architect is changing on current projects?

I think the conventional methods of project delivery need to change and this is a good example of one way that can occur. Architects who are doing their own building is one way the change is coming about.

How is your building possible today in a way that it may not have been before and how have trends in sustainability and technology inspired new thought and solutions?

We wanted this building to be as self-sufficient as possible. Through the concept of net metering we were able to achieve that. We were the first in the region to use this concept. Basically, excess energy that we produce on bright sunny days is credited to our account and we can draw from that as we need to, for example, using the lights at night when we are not generating energy.

What advice or lessons learned would you give to another designer or client pursuing a similar type of sustainable project?

The biggest problem here is that we get absolutely no credit for any of the energy features in the appraisal report. We are being forced to give these features away because the banks will not loan on the excess money invested in features as opposed to gross square footage. This is a very disappointing lesson learned and it will keep us from ever doing another project of similar ambition. As a speculative project, basically, you will never get back what you have put in.

In the context of this project, how is your office and design process being influenced by current trends in academic curricula and young architects? In turn, how are current projects and processes guiding the ongoing reformulation and development of academic curricula?

We are trying to lead the way for this direction in academia.

What unique or different sustainable practices or sustainable materials played a key roll in this building and in your firm’s overall body of work?

I think being able to maintain a high level of design quality AND being LEED Platinum was an important part of our approach and one I remain pleased with in the end. Design does not have to be compromised to be sustainable, in fact, it can be enhanced.

What books are you currently reading….or would like to be reading?
The Count of Monte Cristo.

Architype Review thanks Dan Rockhill for his interview and for contributing to this collection of Architype Dialogue.


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