A Wedding on the Kansas Landscape

Dan Rockhill (MArch ‘76)

View of the Chapel.

View of the Chapel

Dan Rockhill is an ACSA Distinguished Professor of Architecture and the JL Constant Distinguished Professor of Architecture at the University of Kansas, where he also serves as executive director of Studio 804. He and his students have designed and built sixteen LEED Platinum buildings in Kansas and have also completed three Passive Institute Certifications. They have won numerous international design awards including three American Institute of Architect’s Honor Awards, and two Wood Design Awards. They are two-time winners of the NCARB Prize and Architecture Magazine’s “Home of the Year.” In addition, the work of his firm, Rockhill and Associates, is tightly bound to the natural milieu and culture of the Kansas region. In the spirit of regionalism, the area’s archetypal forms, Spartan aesthetics, frugal methods, and relationship to nature permeate the results. They are the recipients of numerous awards, most recently Residential Architect magazine’s Firm of the Year. In 2011, the firm received a Holcim Award from the Swiss Foundation for their work in sustainability. In all, the work has appeared in over 350 international books and journals.

A Wedding on the Kansas Landscape

On an open field of brome grass adjacent to the childhood home of the bride, we constructed this temporary chapel and reception hall (not pictured). The secular ceremony united the couple in the grace of nature. The chapel grew from the ground, reaching toward the heavens, celebrating the life-giving light of the sun, and uniting it with the soil of the earth at the marriage alter built up with a slab of limestone. The chapel represents the complex order of the natural flora, with its rich symmetry that blooms from the ground and delivers the unexpected. We built this with felled cottonwood trunks that created the dramatic splayed columns. The resulting “apse” was enclosed with a tight weave of limbs and saplings that were secured to the columns.