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2011 Kansas Flint Hills Studio

February 20, 2011

The 2011 Flint Hills Studio, titled “Context As Material / How to Read Place” is an advanced option architecture studio taught by visiting professor Wendell Burnette at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis.

The project centers around the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Chase County, Kansas. The tallgrass prairie ecosystem once covered 140 million acres in North America extending from Canada to Texas, but over the past two hundred years more than ninety-five percent of the tallgrass prairie has been converted to farmland. The rocky landscape of the Kansas Flint Hills prevented early settlers from plowing the land, leading to a grazing culture that has largely preserved the native grasses. The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve “protects a nationally significant remnant of the once vast tallgrass prairie and its cultural resources” (NPS.gov)

The goal of the studio is to engage the landscape, viewing “context as the malleable material” for an architectural solution. Research will include two trips to the Flint Hills (one in February and a second in April), architectural case studies, site history and culture, climate data, water and energy resources, traditional local construction materials and methods, and community benefit analysis and economic projections. Students will work with the National Park Service, the Nature Conservancy Flint Hills Initiative, and private land owners to determine appropriate site selection and program that will “confront a new paradigm for visitor center, gift shop, lodging and other programs in context” (project syllabus).

Tallgrass

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