Project of the Week – 1200 Pennsylvania

January 13, 2017

Architect: Studio 804
Location: Lawrence, KS
Photo: Dan Rockhill

Low on carbon, high on style

Every year professor Dan Rockhill and his Masters of Architecture class at the University of Kansas produce an inventive, sustainable building. But in 2016 they took it to the next level with “1200 Pennsylvania” –  a modern, fully accessible and sustainable spec house that features an air-tight, insulated thermal envelope, efficient light fixtures and appliances, as well as a high-performance mechanical system.

“LEED Platinum is the highest level you can achieve, and the use of Western Red Cedar contributed tremendously to that,” explains Rockhill, who oversees Studio 804 at the university’s Department of Architecture. “The siding is low-maintenance, 100-year-old Western Red Cedar reclaimed from railroad bridge trestles that have been dismantled by the logging industry in the northwest part of the country.”

The fact that after 100 years, the Western Red Cedar wood is still usable speaks to its longevity, durability and enduring beauty. The school is committed to the continued research and development of sustainable, affordable, and inventive building solutions, which is one of the reasons they selected Western Red Cedar for the spec house project.

WRC works in historic Neighbourhood

Located in historic east side of Lawrence, Kansas, the home sits on a north facing corner lot that’s a short walk from the cultural hub of downtown. The older established neighborhood has historic guidelines that respect the forms and character of the surrounding buildings.

“The Western Red Cedar reflects the level of detail used elsewhere in the area, an historic older part of the city,” Rockhill says, explaining one more reason why they chose WRC.


Ultimately, it was the Western Red Cedar siding that was the most attention grabbing and talked about aspect of the design. The team opted for clear WRC with two coats of oil-based stain, Rockhill says, due to its warm beauty and sustainable properties.

The use of Western Red Cedar enhanced the project “tremendously,” the professor notes.

“It is a very warm material; everyone loves it,” Rockhill adds.