Tall & Urban News

Innovative Mass Timber Building Unveiled for University Campus in Lawrence

Render by BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group
Render by BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group
26 April 2024 | Lawrence, United States

In acknowledgment of National Arbor Day and the incredible benefits that trees and sustainably sourced forests have for our planet and cities, today's news story features a visionary new mass timber building titled, the “Makers’ KUbe.”  Not only a space for learning and collaboration it is also a testament to sustainable design principles.

A collaboration between Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) with executive architect BNIM, and the University of Kansas School of Architecture & Design, the Makers’ KUbe, encompasses an impressive 50,000 square feet (4,645 square meters) cube structure and stands as a beacon of innovation and environmental stewardship. Its distinctive timber diagrid frame, engineered by StructureCraft, showcases a revolutionary approach to construction. It utilizes traditional Japanese joinery techniques to create an all-wood structure without the need for steel plates or fasteners and uses tight-fit dowels and notched glulam – or glue-laminated timber. This not only reduces material usage but also minimizes carbon-intensive concrete, aligning with the campus's commitment to sustainability.

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Designed to meet the needs and desires of the school's community, including over 1,300 students, faculty, and board members, the Makers’ KUbe is a culmination of years of collaboration and planning. Its transparent façade, enclosed in glass, exposes the building's MEP systems, emphasizing efficiency and functionality. The mix of transparent and opaque insulated glass fosters creativity while providing privacy and reducing glare.

Moreover, the building's massing is strategically oriented to maximize natural light and airflow, benefitting the adjacent Marvin Hall and Chalmers Hall. Winter garden bridges connect the KUbe to these existing buildings, facilitating easy circulation and enhancing interactions among students and faculty.

Bjarke Ingels, Founder and Creative Director of BIG, describes the Makers’ KUbe as a "living curriculum" where every aspect of function, technology, and structure is made tangible for students to appreciate and critique. The building's open-plan design encourages collaboration, with flexible studio spaces, 3D-printing and robotic labs, and a café on the ground level fostering a dynamic learning environment.

Learn more at BIG news.