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April 14, 2011 Volume 32, No. 27

Lucky dog: MU students put four-legged friend in four-wheel home


THIS OLD DOGHOUSE MU architecture and interior design students from the College of Human Environmental Sciences came together for a good cause in early April to design and build a doghouse out of sustainable materials. The event attracted seven local teams whose doghouse projects were auctioned off to benefit the Central Missouri Humane Society. The student’s Airstream design won the Dog’s Choice Award.


Volunteer event benefits local humane society

Several University of Missouri students recently helped some four-legged friends live in style, while supporting the Central Missouri Humane Society.

Architecture and interior design students from the College of Human Environmental Sciences put their creative skills to the test by designing and building a doghouse out of sustainable materials. The students, all volunteers, entered their doghouse into the “Mid-Missouri Barkitecture” contest. The event, held April 4-10 with a daily display outside the Boone County Courthouse, was sponsored by the local American Institute of Architects’ Committee on the Environment.

The seven entries, including handiwork by members of local community organizations and professional architecture firms, were auctioned off April 10, with proceeds donated to the humane society. Judges chose the entry by MU students, which pays homage to the classic Airstream trailer, as winner of the Dog’s Choice award.

Airstream trailers were popular recreational camping vehicles in the 1960s that sported an aerodynamic design with a silver hull. The MU student’s doghouse version was designed with a silver metal cover, a fold-out sun visor, wheels and tail lights.

John Bohlmeyer, an MU student who spent many nights and weekends building the doghouse, said the project was a great chance for his fellow students to hone their craft.

“It’s always good for architecture and interior design students to be able get some hands-on experience with the tools and materials used in the building trade, even if it’s just light carpentry work,” Bohlmeyer said. “I think all of the members of the team had worked with wood before, but the sheet metal was new to us. I’ve picked up on some of the characteristics of bending sheet metal that I will be able to use in the future.”

Michael Goldschmidt, an assistant professor in Architectural Studies in the College of Human Environmental Sciences, advised the student group as they designed and built the dog house. He said the school is always pushing students to use their skills to help improve the world around them.

“We encourage students to do things in the community,” Goldschmidt said. “This project has allowed them to combine their design skills with giving back.

Not only do they get to help the humane society, but they get to increase their knowledge of managing and designing sustainable products.”

One goal of the contest was to design each house to be as sustainable as possible. The MU students, who are all members of a student chapter of the United States Green Building Council, were able to build their “Airstream house” almost exclusively from recycled or eco-friendly products.

“Ultimately we hope the house is auctioned off to an excited owner for lots of money to benefit the humane society,” Bohlmeyer said. “Just being able to work on a group project outside of our studio classroom is a great way to relieve stress and have fun building something.”