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Building on a Solid Foundation (read more)

Building On a Solid Foundation

2015 SJHS alum bolstered by hands-on architectural experience

It wasn’t completely built in January 2020, but there was enough there for representatives from four architectural firms from across the country to visit it.

The house designed and being built by Gabrielle “Gabby” Foster, Saint Joseph High School Class of ’15, and her fellow graduate students at the University of Kansas was looking impressive enough for Foster to be interviewed and offered a position by three of the firms.

“Doing something in architecture has been a dream of mine for years. Whenever I had the chance to pick a topic for research, I always looked for a connection to architecture or anything with buildings. I remember going on the Frank Lloyd Wright tour when I was younger and on the Chicago architecture boat tours as well.”

Foster last June completed her master’s degree in architecture, with a minor in business, when Dan Rockhill, director of the Studio 804 project, gave his enthusiastic approval of the home.

“For my master’s project, I could either intern at an architectural firm or I could participate in Studio 804 to design and build a house from scratch,” Foster said. “I wanted the hands-on experience and I got it!”

            Studio 804 is a nonprofit organization in which Rockhill guides students as they design and build a home on a preselected property. Rockhill, an employee of University of Kansas’ school of architecture, has overseen the completion of 25 such projects, which are purchased for public or private use.

            “He was very excited about our work,” Foster said of Rockhill. “He let us know that we had one of the best group dynamics in his experience. He appreciated that we worked well together, respecting each other’s opinions.”

            Those opinions varied as 21 students spent in the fall of 2019 meeting in groups to present designs on the home after a close inspection of the property and the surrounding homes.

            “Each person in the group had the lead in one of the design and implementation components. My area was flooring and tiling. Like everything else in this project, there was much I learned as I researched types, costs and installation of a variety of floor plans.”

            The project was completed in June, and Gabby was happy to report that the home was sold within a short period of time.

            “The experience was incredible. It was a great way to learn the practical needs and methods to build a house. There was so much to learn. I came away with new skills and a richer vocabulary in my field. It was also great to work with such a tight-knit group of people. Very enriching.”

            Congratulations, Gabby! Keep us posted as you continue to build on a solid foundation. We’re proud of you!