BIG reveals a new mass timber building called the “Makers’ KUbe”

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BIG, BNIM, and University of Kansas (KU) have revealed a new timber building called the “Makers’ KUbe.” The KUbe will be a studio space and serve as a teaching space where showcasing sustainable practices through its mass timber diagrid design.

BIG’s vision for the University of Kansas School of Architecture & Design reduces all architecture and design programs into three interconnected buildings, tying together the existing Marvin Hall, Chalmers Hall, and the new six-story Makers’ KUbe.

The Makers’ KUbe is approximately 4,645 square meters of timber cube structure with a distinct timber diagrid frame that reduces material and curtails carbon-intensive concrete. The building’s structure uses tight-fit dowels and notched glulam to create an all-wood structure without steel plates or fasteners.

The KUbe building has a timber and glass facade that exposes its MEP systems, showcasing its minimal and efficient design. The insulated glass exterior provides privacy and reduces glare. The building features biodegradable hempwool insulation for improved thermal performance.


“Our design for the consolidated design studios at KU seeks to deploy all aspects of the profession in three distinct interventions: preservation, adaptation and new construction. The Makers’ KUbe is conceived as a showcase in timber tectonics, traditional joinery, robotic manufacturing and sustainable materials. The timber bones of the building are exposed by stripping away all applied finishes – elevating structure to expression. A single staircase doubling as convenience stairs above and fire stairs within ties all student spaces together from park to attic.” said Bjarke Ingels, Founder and Creative Director, BIG.

And added, “The building serves as a living curriculum, revealing all function, technology and structure as tangible elements for the students to appreciate and critique – learning solidified into built form.”

Photo by Graham Handford

The Makers’ KUbe is a six-story building that fosters collaboration between students. It contains open studio space, 3D-printing and robotic labs, as well as a cafe on the ground level, all organized around a central core. The floorplates are cut to allow for a continuous sequence of single and double height spaces. Also, all interior materials are recyclable.

“Our KU School of Architecture & Design masterplan preserves the school’s heritage buildings while keeping them relevant for the 21st century; extends the life and livability of the existing buildings with minimal intervention; and builds a new structure with low-carbon solutions. These programs not only showcase the next chapter of our profession, but they will also inspire the designers of tomorrow to envision a sustainable future,” said Thomas Christoffersen, Partner, BIG.

Full-scale mock-up by StructureCraft – Photo by Graham Handford

Project Info

Size: 178,663 sq ft
Location: Kansas, United States
Client: University of Kansas
Collaborators: BNIM, StructureCraft, Walter P Moore, Cumming Group, JE Dunn Construction, Smith & Boucher, Forza Consultants, SK Design Group, Rosin Preservation, Kilograph
Partners-in-Charge: Bjarke Ingels, Thomas Christoffersen, Leon Rost
Project Manager: Yu Inamoto
Design Lead: Alana Goldweit
Project Architect: Dominyka Voelkle
Team: Daniela Morin, Dylan Hames, Ema Bakalova, Hudson Parris, Isela Liu, Margaret Tyrpa, Megan Octaviani, Nele Herrmann, Paola Bokobsa, Praveen Lalitha Kishorekumar, Tara Abedinitafreshi, Thomas Guerra, Will Chuanrui Yu, Youjin Rhee

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