Howard Nearing/NSPJ Endowed Housing Studio at KU

In 2013, NSPJ Architects and the University of Kansas School of Architecture, Design and Planning established the Howard Nearing Endowed Fund to honor the firm’s founding partner and the 50th anniversary of the firm.  Since it’s establishment, the original prize morphed into the Howard Nearing/NSPJ Endowed Housing Studio which focuses on residential design and goes well beyond the originally established prize.  Recently Co-Presidents Tim Homburg, Clint Evans, & Vice President Theresa Curtis visited the studio to check in and see first hand what students had been working on.

Additionally, at a recent NSPJ in-house Friday Forum, Associate Development Director, Clint Paugh, and Department Chair, Joe Colistra, from KU School of Architecture & Design presented an update to our employees. Over the last six years, the income has funded student awards, research, and support for student travel for housing competitions.

Co-Presidents, Tim Homburg and Clint Evans tour the Lawrence Studio

The first studio for the Howard Nearing/NSPJ Endowed Housing Studio was focused on Moore, Oklahoma after the tornado.  Student designs of multifamily/mixed-use housing in the main downtown core were the primary objective. Community meetings were held to discuss the potential development and understand the community’s needs.  NSPJ’s Bill Prelogar was instrumental in assisting the student’s designs and ultimately juried their final projects awarding the prizes.

In 2017, the Howard Nearing/NSPJ Endowed Housing Studio participated in the Department of Energy Race to NetZero to design ultra-efficient and cost-effective housing. Using passive and sustainable features, students worked to create eco-districts with energy efficient homes sharing ground source geothermal. As well as carports featuring solar panels. An aspect of the design was also the process of detailing the many unique features for an accurate appraisal enabling bank loans.

HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition

For the last five years, under the guidance of Joe Colistra (KU) and the mentoring of Bill Prelogar (NSPJ), the studio has participated in the HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition. The Howard Nearing/NSPJ Endowed Housing Studio teams placed twice in the finals. They were able to use the funds to travel to Washington D.C. for the presentation. These multidisciplinary teams included students majoring in architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, business and law. The competition encourages research and innovation for affordable housing. Project locations included cities in Ohio, Louisiana, California and Rhode Island. These award-winning solutions were complex and forwarding thinking and even included a financial proforma.

endowed housing studio at The University of Kansas by NSPJ Architects

As the fund has approached its full endowment value, the KU School of Architecture & Design and Department Chair, Joe Colistra, studied the best ways to use the money.  Growing the KU Institute for Smart Cities, established in 2012 seemed like a logical choice.  Funds from the Howard Nearing/NSPJ Endowment have been matched with additional grants.

Furthermore, they provide for the study of how housing and technology can provide better care for senior residents. Advancement in this area would help to detect medical incidents and managing care more effectively.  Innovations include fall detection, gait analysis (keeping track of the way you walk), bed sensors, automated medical dispensers, and smart mirrors. Even smart toilets have been researched and tested through the Institute.

Endowed housing studio

Studio 804

These technologies are being built & tested in the same facility that serves KU’s Studio 804 – a design-build program at KU School of Architecture.  The work is housed in a 65,000 square foot warehouse located off campus in Lawrence. It is affectionately referred to as the largest makers space in the world.  The sheer size of this huge facility provides room to create mock-ups of wall assemblies and many other smart home technologies the students are creating & testing.  The warehouse equipment includes CNC router, a laser cutter, and robotic arms.  These tools and space allowed an air-stream to be transformed into a mobile classroom.  As well as, a beer truck was retro fitted to provide fresh produce to Kansas City, Kansas food deserts.

Studio 804 at The University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas
Studio 804 at The University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas

NSPJ Architects is excited to see the funds from the Howard Nearing/NSPJ Endowed Housing Studio used in many ways. Such as, financial prizes, support student travel, and allow research to re-imagine the way we can live.  Founded in 1961, NSPJ is proud to pay tribute to Howard Nearing, the founding partner who’s career focused on timeless residential design.

We continue Howard’s legacy today by providing architectural, site planning, and landscape architectural design services. Additionally, we have designed over 6,000 projects, including single family, multifamily, and senior living environments. We have thoroughly enjoyed the ongoing relationship with the University of Kansas School of Architecture, Design and Planning. NSPJ look’s forward to the new research and technology that will surely improve many of our lives in the years to come.

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