University of Kansas

Owner or Caretaker.

It’s a funny thing when you sell your house. You inevitably have mixed emotions of joy and sorrow. You’re happy you’ve sold, and a little sad since you have memories associated with your home. In our case, it’s a combination of both. While we have loved almost 4 years at Modular 4, it’s time to move on, and on March 1st we will when we head to a loft space downtown.

All of this comes to a singular point about this house, or really any house. In reality you never really own your house. You are in fact a caretaker of the property. This fact is even more true when you possess something unique, like a piece of art, a collectible car, a piece of jewelry or in this case architecture. I say this because at some point in time what you have will end up in someone else’s possession, and they will take on the responsibility of being caretaker. And so we pass the responsibility on to the new owners, as we move to take care of our next unique place to live.

I really like the concept of being a “caretaker” as opposed to “owner”. It has a completely different feel to it. It takes a position that says “I understand the uniqueness of what I have. I understand my responsibility to take care of, maintain, and pass on to someone else in the future.” By being a caretaker instead of an owner, it means you are willing to look toward the future, and understand that at some point you will give up stewardship. That another individual will take over, and hopefully do as good as, or a better job than you in the future.

Modular 4 is not a house designed and built by someone like Renzo Piano, or Frank Lloyd Wright, Neutra, or any other internationally famous architect. It is however, a one of a kind architect designed house, that might have been designed by a future internationally famous architect. More over it is a house that hopefully will be here in a hundred or so years, and will remain true to form no matter how many individuals care for it over time.

Modular 4 is part of an architectural record. A section of a living program with ties beyond its location, it’s inhabitants, the neighborhood, the University of Kansas, and so much more. It is an object that will never be owned, simply cared for until it changes hands again in the future.

Anyone that has ever lived in a space like this, or designed a house like this can relate to what I’m saying here. If you haven’t on either count, think about it. The concept of ownership vs caretaker is pretty simple and applies to so much.

Goodbye Modular 4 we leave you in good hands.

In case you are wondering, this blog will continue with this name, talking about the same stuff I’ve been talking about every day for almost 4 years.

Sometimes Ya Gotta Go. Modular 4 is For Sale.

Like the theme song to “Cheers” said, “sometimes ya gotta go”. This post really isn’t in the same context, but it is appropriate considering our house went on the market today. After 3 years, and 3 months were moving. Not because the house has issues, or the neighborhood has issues, not because of anything bad, just because… Sometimes you have to go. Maybe the sale can be chalked up to mid life trying to figure it all out syndrome or something. It’s hard to say, either way Modular 4 is going up for sale.

So what does this mean for my little blog experience? Nothing. The blog keeps on trucking. The house won’t be a part of it unless the new owner wants to be a guest writer, but the blog rolls on.

Look for a few posts about selling our house. I’ll try not to bore everyone to tears with commentary about the trials and tribulations of selling a modern home in traditional Kansas City.

UPDATE: If you want to see a video of the house click here.





Congratulations to Studio 804, and the Completion of the Prescott House.

As the owner of a Studio 804 house, I am always excited when a new project by the KU program finishes and is ready for an open house. Today Studio 804 showed the newly finished Prescott house located at 12 S 16th street in Kansas City Kansas. Because I own 2007’s Modular 4 house, I was curious to see the latest effort from the KU Masters of Architecture students and decided to attend the open house. I am going to say right now, good job guys. The house was fabulous.

when we got there, I would say there were around 50 to 60 people milling through the home, yet in never really felt constricted. The open floor plan lent itself well to the high traffic present today, so I can imagine that it will feel even more spacious when you are there a smaller group.

The bottom line is this, if you live in the Kansas City area, you owe it to yourself to go see the house. It really needs to be experienced first hand, and it helps if you can have any of the students there to explain construction methods, and the way the house was finished out. Personally I want to go back and really look it over without the crowds.

Studio 804’s Prescott Passive House, is Almost Finished.

Yesterday I stopped by the latest project from Studio 804 in Kansas City Kansas, the LEED certified Prescott house. After 5 months it is nearly complete and will be hosting an open house this Saturday, May 15th from 11:00 to 3:00.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with Studio 804 here is the scoop. Studio 804 is a design/build program at the University of Kansas School of Architecture and Urban Planning. In the students last semester, the students use the critical knowledge they have gained to design and build a single home. The program focuses on efforts to reclaim blighted areas within the urban core by creating structures that are affordable, aesthetically pleasing and consciously engaging the pre-existing context of the neighborhood.

This years project “The Prescott House”, is located in the Prescott neighborhood  of Kansas City Kansas at just south of 16th and Central. The Prescott house marks the sixth home in the studio 804 program, and is the first to receive LEED Platinum Certification.

The house looked amazing when we walked through it, even in its unfinished but close to done state. Amazing vaulted ceilings, burnt (shou sugi ban) Douglas Fir rain screen, paper stone counters, concrete stair treads faced with the same paper stone materials, pervious concrete drive. The house has a nice flow to it. The space is very open and light with ample glazing, and unrestricted movement through out. What I saw yesterday was still very much under construction, but I am sure it will be finished and ready to show by Saturday morning. And I can’t wait to see the finished house, staged with furniture from Retro Inferno.