Design and Construction, Hand and Mind; the Work of Studio 804

Studio 804 is a hands-on graduate studies program that creates better architects.


Studio 804 is a not-for profit 501(c)(3) corporation whose participants are graduate students of the University of Kansas’ School of Architecture and Design.

Dan Rockhill, Executive Director, offers comments on the changes he has seen in architectural education over the course of his teaching career as well the changes in young people over the same time frame. He recounts the founding mission of the organization: to offer students of architecture a comprehensive and sincere engagement with building that is both communal and physical, institutional and every day.

In addition to addressing mounting concerns of sustainability and innovative design in the era of the Anthropocene, the time since the industrial revolution when human activities began to impact global climate and ecosystems, the presentation includes a separate but parallel crisis in architecture: the paucity of material engagement in architectural education. The studio dismantles the boundaries of the ivory tower by allowing students to experience first-hand and collaboratively the various bureaucratic, institutional and community bodies that coalesce to form the architecture that frames our everyday lives. From the early days of first sketches to the immersive education of material making, the presentation shares Rockhill’s first-person account of the history and legacy of Studio 804.

Project by project, Rockhill describes the way Studio 804 came to be managed and details the achievements to date of its experiential program, one of the first of its kind worldwide that weaves together education, modern design, sustainability and the practice of architecture.


Delivered live at the 2018 CRAN Symposium, Cincinnati, OH.

Learning objectives

  • Learn how the use of construction materials for improved and efficient building performance, as well as recycled materials, are used as a means to reduce the amount of new material required and as an educational opportunity for the buildings’ occupants.
  • Comprehend how the projects relate to their surrounding, both physical and cultural, what sustainable design applications have been incorporated, promote indoor/outdoor connections (ex., natural daylighting and open ventilation), and how the project was designed to promote long-term use and/or adaptive reuse potential.
  • Interpret how the strategies and technologies that Rockhill has incorporated in his projects might work for the average client, enabling them to reduce their carbon footprint and maintain a pleasant living environment.
  • Learn how Studio 804 projects act as a platform for showcasing, interacting with, and educating students and the community alike about sustainable design technologies and new innovations in design research. This example can be translated elsewhere to better communities through education and the development of beautifully designed and affordable, sustainable, and energy-efficient buildings.
User rating:
Average: 4.6 (178 votes)
 $45  non-member
 $30  member
1.25 LUs
  • HSW
  • RIBA


  • Dan Rockhill

    Executive Director / Studio 804

    Dan Rockhill is the J L Constant Distinguished Professor of Architecture at the University of...