MAKERS’ KUbe by BIG and University of Kansas School of Architecture & Design

BIG, together with executive architect BNIM and the University of Kansas School of Architecture & Design, unveil a new mass timber building for learning and collaboration, titled the “Makers’ KUbe.” Along with housing studio space, the KUbe will also serve as a teaching tool, showcasing sustainable practices through its mass timber diagrid design.

Designed in direct response to the needs and wishes of the school’s 1,300+ students, faculty and board since 2022, BIG’s vision for the University of Kansas School of Architecture & Design consolidates all architecture and design programs into three interconnected buildings, tying together the existing Marvin Hall from 1908, Chalmers Hall from 1978 and the new six-story Makers’ KUbe.

Image © BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group

The adjacent Marvin Hall’s stone façade and beloved spaces will be historically preserved while Chalmers Hall will be renovated to bring in more daylight. The Makers’ KUbe is a 50,000-square-foot mass timber cube structure. The KUbe’s distinct timber diagrid frame – engineered by structural engineer StructureCraft – is optimized to reduce material and curtail carbon-intensive concrete.

Inspired by traditional Japanese joinery techniques, the building’s structure uses tight-fit dowels and notched glulam – or glue laminated timber – to create an all-wood structure with columns and beams that run diagonally, without steel plates or fasteners.

Image © BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group

The stripped back façade – a timber structure enclosed in glass – foregoes cladding and finishing, exposing the KUbe’s MEP systems and further proving the building’s ability to remain minimal and efficient, only using what is necessary.

The mix of transparent and opaque insulated glass on the exterior showcases the school’s creativity to the entire University of Kansas campus while creating moments of privacy and reducing glare. The building’s enclosure includes natural fiber thermal insulation in the form of biodegradable hempwool, which is exposed within the facade’s shadow boxes for improved thermal performance.

Image © BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group

The KUbe’s massing is rotated to align with Wescoe Drive and the surrounding buildings to allow for more light and air to be brought into the existing buildings. Winter garden bridges located on the KUbe’s second floor connect it to Marvin Hall and Chalmers Hall, providing easy circulation between buildings in the colder months and enhancing interactions among students and faculty.

The KUbe’s ground-level corners are angled inward, creating inviting canopied entrances that connect the building to the surrounding open spaces, while the upper-level corners are set back to allow for accessible terraces open to the sky, providing generous views of the campus and the city.


The Makers’ KUbe is a hub for innovation and a resource for students. The building’s light-filled, six-story open plan creates a layered and flexible studio, fostering collaboration between students. The KUbe contains open studio space, 3D-printing and robotic labs, as well as a cafe on the ground level, all organized around a central core.

The floorplates are cut to allow for a continuous sequence of single and double height spaces and can be partitioned to create a more typical classroom experience. A fire-resistant egress feature staircase spirals up the building, encouraging spontaneous moments of creative interaction and maximizing available floor space. All interior materials are recyclable.


Embodying the university’s values, the proposed campus for the school preserves and adapts existing spaces while utilizing timber to minimize its carbon footprint. The Makers’ KUbe and Chalmers Hall feature rooftops with photovoltaic panels to harvest energy for the buildings. Any rainwater accumulated on the KUbe’s roof is stored and used for irrigating the site’s landscaping, which features native species that further reduce water needs.

BIG has completed higher education projects including UMass Amherst’s Isenberg Innovation Hub, with Johns Hopkins University’s mass timber Student Center currently under construction and Claremont McKenna College’s Robert Day Sciences Center opening in 2025. Source by BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group.


Location: Kansas, United States

Architect: BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group

Partners-in-Charge: Bjarke Ingels, Thomas Christoffersen, Leon Rost

Project Manager: Yu Inamoto

Design Lead: Alana Goldweit

Project Architect: Dominyka Voelkle

Project Team: Daniela Morin, Dylan Hames, Ema Bakalova, Hudson Parris, Isela Liu, Margaret Tyrpa, Megan Octaviani, Nele Herrmann, Paola Bokobsa, Praveen Lalitha Kishorekumar, Tara Abedinitafreshi, Thomas Guerra, Will Chuanrui Yu, Youjin Rhee

Collaborators: BNIM, StructureCraft, Walter P Moore, Cumming Group, JE Dunn Construction, Smith & Boucher, Forza Consultants, SK Design Group, Rosin Preservation, Kilograph

Client: University of Kansas

Size: 178,663 sq ft

Year: 2024

Images: Courtesy of BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group

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