aerial shot of jayhawk boulevard

Professional Tools. Inspiring Spaces.

The School of Architecture & Design (ArcD) at the University of Kansas is committed to providing students with all the tools and resources needed to prepare for careers and make impacts as designers, architects, and visionary leaders.

ArcD students build professional skillsets through hands-on experiences in collaborative studio spaces, advanced labs, and multidisciplinary makerspaces.  

The Forum 

Completed in 2014, The Forum in many ways defines and connects our school’s history, present, and future. Designed and built by ArcD students in the Studio804 program, this LEED Platinum-certified glass, steel, and timber structure sits directly centered between the two campus buildings that have long been home to our academic departments.  

This light-filled building is a gathering place for our school community and a venue to welcome visitors. The Forum includes a 121-seat lecture hall and a multipurpose space with moveable exhibition walls, flexible furniture systems, and digital displays. The Forum Commons, a student lounge and exhibition gallery, connects The Forum to Marvin Hall.  

Marvin Hall  

Located directly on historic Jayhawk Boulevard, Marvin Hall offers connections to most ArcD campus facilities, resources, and people. The four-level building, built in 1908 of locally quarried limestone, is home to the school’s administrative offices, academic support services, along with various studios, classrooms, and multidisciplinary learning and research facilities.  

Though one of the oldest academic buildings at the University of Kansas, numerous renovations have made Marvin Hall a showcase for ecologically sustainable architecture and innovative educational space design. Newly renovated, light-filled studio spaces host the majority of architecture and interior architecture courses. And multiple collaboration, exhibition, and resource spaces support students in all ArcD programs.  

The school’s deans, department chairpersons, and academic advisors are all located in a collection of offices and meeting rooms on the second floor. The Interior Architecture (IA) program office is on the third floor in a unified space that includes the IA Materials Library. ArcD’s communication office is located in the Hatch Resource Center, a multifaceted facility that houses school archives, a 5,000-book reading room, and large collaborative space for students in all academic programs.

Chalmers Hall 

Connected to Marvin Hall by an elevated walkway—known as “The Bridge”—Chalmers Hall is a large and bustling building where creative practice and output is in full view. This longtime home to Department of Design academic programs, studios, and faculty offices, also holds multidisciplinary labs, common areas, galleries, and amenities that support the whole ArcD student experience. 

Anchored by a renovated central student commons area that was completed by Dirt Works Studio design-build students in 2017, the third floor of Chalmers is a hub of activity for students in all ArcD programs. The area includes a café, art and design shop, flexible collaborative space, and expansive exhibition gallery. 

Located on four levels of Chalmers Hall, studios and program-specific labs offer Illustration & Animation, Industrial Design, Photography, and Visual Communication Design students 24-hour access to spacious work areas and a range of digital and analog tools. With studio spaces spatially organized around academic programs, a close-knit sense of community flourishes within the disciplines. Multidisciplinary labs, such as CNC, Letterpress, and specialized computer labs allow students to make cross-disciplinary connections. 

East Hills Designbuild Center 

At 68,000 square feet, the East Hills Designbuild Center is the largest academic makerspace in the world. Home to multiple Architecture and Industrial Design design-build studios, the steel and concrete building contains fabrication labs, collaborative research spaces, a computer lab, and multiple cavernous assembly areas for ArcD students and researchers.   

Larger than a football field and with an open layout, space can be readily reconfigured to accommodate multiple large-scale prefabrication and research projects. Metal, wood, and furniture labs are equipped with industrial equipment, professional tools, and customizable workspace. KU ArcD’s Institute for Smart Cities designed, built, and maintains a Smart Home research lab that allows students and researchers to measure, analyze, and test new technologies at human scale. 

Students and faculty have used East Hills facilities to develop LEED Platinum buildings, modular furniture systems, sustainably manufactured bicycles, a mobile grocery store, prefabricated homes, among many other impactful projects.  

Marvin Studios (aka “The Mud Hut”) 

More commonly referred to as “The Mud Hut,” Marvin Studios is home to studios, presentation space, and advanced digital fabrication labs. Students in both departments have opportunities to gain experience using advanced computer systems and automated tools to create 3D prototypes, manufacture products, and research innovative material applications.  

The Mud Hut’s humble appearance and small size relative to adjacent campus buildings belies the cutting-edge work happening within and the history of innovative KU research embodied in the structure. The Mud Hut was built in 1942 by Works Progress Administration and National Youth Administration crews using a brand-new rammed earth block technology (hence the nickname) developed at KU. Now, the building is a key hands-on educational and research facility that readies ArcD graduates for careers and is utilized by faculty and PhD scholars for research. The building contains flexible studio spaces and multifaceted labs that house laser cutters, 3-D printers, advanced digital modeling systems, and a pair of Nautilus KUKA industrial robots.  

In 2015, third-year design-build students in Dirt Works Studio gave new life and function to the building’s interior and paid homage to its earthen heritage with an exposed rammed-earth wall. The wall includes five iron-stabilized ferromagnetic bands that allow the wall to serve as a magnetic presentation display surface. The students also built a reclaimed timber-clad partition that demarcates the digital fabrication facilities. 

Center for Design Research (CDR) 

The Center for Design Research (CDR) is a working laboratory and incubator that brings together KU students, faculty, and industry representatives from multiple disciplines to create imaginative and practical ways to innovate consumer products and services. 

Located on KU’s West Campus on the site of a former dairy farm, CDR facilities are housed within a repurposed historic stone barn and farmhouse, and a LEED Platinum-certified building completed in 2011 by KU Studio 804 design-build students. The complex includes studio, collaboration, and lab space to support teaching and interdisciplinary research. 

The building features a wind turbine, smart-grid electricity metering, an energy-conserving plant-covered roof, photovoltaic panels, a rain garden, and an electric-vehicle charging system. Its south-facing facade captures heat inside a Trombe wall, and it has a highly efficient HVAC system. The main conference room features a "green wall" planted with ferns under the three skylights and specially designed LED lighting. 

Snow Hall 

Directly across Jayhawk Boulevard from Marvin Hall, Snow Hall houses architecture and interior architecture studio and presentation spaces, offices, and a computer lab. 

Located in a unified space overlooking Potter Lake and Memorial Stadium on the first floor of Snow Hall, facilities include large studio spaces, a flexible presentation gallery, and is home to PhD in Architecture student offices. The computer lab provides 31 workstations, printers, and digital projection equipment.