You wouldn’t normally associate Kansas with modern architecture, but thanks to Rockhill and Associates (RA), the state has its fair share. The firm designs cutting-edge, award-winning residential buildings that wryly blend a modern industrial aesthetic with agrarian overtones.
Out of necessity, RA is a one-stop shop. Construction budgets are so tight that the firm designs and constructs most of its buildings. “I could put buildings together for less money than any contractor could,” principal Dan Rockhill says. “This saves our clients about 20 percent.”
Rockhill also is an architecture professor at the University of Kansas, where his Studio 804 also has developed into a force. Under his watchful eyes, students design and build award-winning houses that are then sold to low-income individuals.
Although work in Kansas is slow these days, RA has developed a following in other parts of the country and currently has multiple projects in progress in New Mexico.
What is the most gratifying aspect of residential practice?
Compared to other project types the short turnaround time is the most attractive aspect. We do the Studio 804 projects, from idea to final inspection, in five months’ time.
What is the most frustrating aspect?
Clients who fail to appreciate the role design plays in developing a project.
What is your mission statement or firm goal?
We feel sustainability is the most important aspect of our work, in the Rockhill and Associates work and Studio 804. I feel a responsibility to contribute to the conversation about our role in global warming but to show by example that design does not have to be compromised to be a part of the conversation.
What is the most indispensable tool in your office?
Revit, the BIM software!
What software does your firm use?
Who is your ideal client?
One who appreciates the place of modern design.
What is your favorite building?
I saw this little smelter, at least that’s what I thought it was, along the roadside in Sweden; I’ll never forget how beautiful it was in its stark simplicity.
If you didn’t have the time to design your own house, who would you hire?
The person who made the smelter!