Studio 804 hatches new ‘EcoHawks’ building on west campus

The new "EcoHawks" Hill Engineering Center building on KU's West Campus.

The new “EcoHawks” Hill Engineering Center building on KU’s West Campus.

Studio 804’s latest addition to our built environment, the ‘EcoHawks’ research facility, was opened to the public this past weekend. Like its older brother across campus, the Center for Design Research, the EcoHawks building is a test bed of energy sustainability, designed to be net zero, which means it will produce more energy than it actually consumes. That extra energy will be used by engineering students to design electric vehicles that can run the building at night. Smart idea. These students are constantly thinking outside the box, and their buildings are teeming with innovative ideas and technologies. Some of these ideas could change the world, fulfilling KU’s oft-stated mission. But in that clean-lined, high tech future they envision we’ll all someday be living in, it would be nice to interact with materials other than just steel, glass and concrete. We would love to see future buildings that are warmer and more inviting, especially on the inside. This could be achieved quite easily and would not necessarily cost more. Class of 2014, we hope you are listening.


Front entrance.


Engineering lab/Vehicle test bay. Here, engineering students who participate in KU’s Kansas Sustainable Automotive Energy Infrastructure Initiative (a.k.a. Ecohawks) will recycle old cars and make them run on primarily renewable resources.


Visitors mingle in the building’s utility space.

Tom Harper with Max Anderson, a former student in the Studio 804 class.

Tom Harper with Max Anderson, a former student in the Studio 804 class. Max helped design and fabricate the building’s innovative motorized aerogel insulating panels, which trap heat collected by the concrete floor in winter.



From left, Elizabeth Avenius, Kelli Hawkins and Hannah Hindman, former Studio 804 students who helped design and build the “EcoHawks” Hill Engineering Research and Development Center. (All graduated in May with a Master’s in Architecture.) Elizabeth hatched the idea to use recycled aircraft aluminum to create the building’s striking weaved exterior.


  1. MB
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    You are right, a shop space could use warmer materials like carpets or silk drapes.

    • Posted June 14, 2013 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

      Your point is well taken, but have you been in this space? Other Studio 804 buildings? They are quite cold to the touch, with few exceptions.

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