The Design+Make Studio is a capstone design studio at Kansas State University that works in collaboration with Kansas City-based el dorado inc. The focus of this year’s studio is to design an affordable duplex in the Waldo area in Kansas City.

The research-based studio involves graduate students addressing community needs using design as a way of problem-solving. In past years the studio has built numerous pavilions and gathering spaces around Kansas City and has worked with clients ranging from the Girl Scouts to government agencies. The current duplex project, however, will be by far the most ambitious.

7509 Pennsylvania was commissioned by Botwin Commercial Development, who will eventually build the project. Through working with Botwin, under the guidance of el dorado, the students are getting direct experience working with clients, budgets, and timelines.

Kansas State student duplex

An efficient floor plan reduces overall budget and allows for the use of higher-end materials in the 7509 Pennsylvania Avenue project. (Kansas State University)

“The duplex is built to fulfill a need,” said David Alpert, partner at Botwin Commercial Development. “In Kansas City, rent is increasing at a rate that is 56 percent higher than the national average. There are many people who work in Waldo, but can’t afford to live in Waldo. This duplex project is designed to accommodate families and individuals who want quality housing at a price they can afford. Lease price will be set based on income levels.”

The duplex itself utilizes a modest footprint while maintaining high-quality materials. Each unit will have two bedrooms and one bath, within a total of 730 square feet of living space. The reduced footprint allowed for more attention and resources to go into design elements such as landscaping, lighting, water runoff, and an improved spatial quality.

“There were three goals of this project,” said David Dowell, el dorado principal and Design+Make instructor in a press release. “First, create quality housing people can afford in Waldo and second, ensure the project is truly adaptable. By accomplishing goals one and two, we can replicate the concept into different build sites and plans can flex to meet each developer and tenant’s needs. To further encourage replication, every stage of design and construction will be open-source.”

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