Weaver Courtyard Enhancements and ADA Accessible Entrance

Sidewalk entry to garden and Spooner Hall
A hidden sculpture courtyard built in the early 1960’s had lost its luster. Adjacent to an historic building (1894) and nearby thoroughfare, the goal of the project was to reconnect the courtyard to the community. 23 students across two semesters contributed to the renovation and updates, which included: new ADA accessible entrance, stair and ramp made from site cast concrete; (2) limestone sculptures depicting the environment in unique ways; masonry repair and tuckpointing; new landscaping with a mix of native plants to encourage pollinators; rainwater harvested from the roof of the adjacent building is channeled into a bioswale; and furniture made from stones that were removed from the site. Excavation of the new entry yielded several tons of earth used to create a sloped berm in the front lawn of the lot. Students worked with experts in several fields as they designed for the courtyard. Environmental scientist, stone mason and sculptor, philosopher, structural engineer, and others provided feedback and collaborative insight for the students.
The studio was responsible for design, approval drawings, and construction of the project. Groups of 4 tackled areas of the courtyard and functioned as teams that worked together to coordinate the work across the semester. Extensive research on ADA code, slopes, stair design, etc. formed a knowledge base for the students to design and build the new entryway. Challenged with a sloping sidewalk that had to be navigated by wheelchair users as they approached the courtyard, the entryway was created by excavating into bedrock and removing a portion of the 1960’s stonework - which required rebuilding with matching stones from the region. Students gained experience in stonework, landscape design and detailing, rainwater harvest, as well as using heavy machinery in the project.
Year: 2018
Location: Lawrence, Kansas
Course: Arch 509 Designbuild Studio
Instructor: Keith Van de Riet

Students: Margaret Dickherber, Rui Ge, Gavin Goga, Andrew Leininger, Patrick Sawyer, Alyssa Aragon, Grant Bechtel, Charles Devries, Gabrielle Duran, Samantha Eichhorn, Tanner Garrington, Lake Giron, Andrew Gonzalez, Danielle Kolker, Azra Krdzalic, Savannah Kruse, Mackenzie Laxton, Nadia Laytimi, Matthew Martinez, Lena Michalek, Kristen Phillips, Grace Reinsch, Victor Renteria,

Partner/Client: The Commons at The University of Kansas

Structural Engineer: Chris Boos, P.E.

Sponsors: Vinland Valley Nursery, Jeff and Mary Weinberg, KU Commons Seed Grant, 2sculpt, KU Facilities Planning and Development

Vendors: Cottin’s Hardware and Rental, Midwest Concrete Materials (MCM), Kansas Sand and Concrete, Keith Middlemas

Media: “The Commons teams up with architecture students to offer new access to campus garden,” The University of Kansas News; “Architecture students’ project to make Spooner Hall courtyard more accessible,” The University Daily Kansas; “A garden in winter: KU students work during break to finish courtyard project,” Lawrence Journal World; “KU’s Weaver Courtyard: Increasing Access and Enhancing Experience,” Great Plains Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Center