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Debate, architecture build up reputations

Harris named coach of year, two programs earn top honors

R. Steve Dick/University Relations

Debate coach Scott Harris was recently named coach of the year.

KU landed a pair of No. 1 national rankings recently. KU debate coach Scott Harris was named coach of the year, and Architecture magazine chose a house designed by KU students as "Home of the Year."

Scott Harris, now in his 16th year as debate coach, was named national Coach of the Year during the Franklin R. Shirley Classic Debate Tournament, held Nov. 11-13 at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The Coach of the Year is selected by a national panel. Two former KU debaters and four former assistant coaches who worked with Harris took part in roasting him during the Nov. 12 awards banquet.

Harris is not the first KU debate coach to earn Coach of the Year honors. Donn Parson, professor and graduate director of communication studies who coached KU debate for 24 years beginning in 1964, was named national Coach of the Year in 1971, 1980 and 1981 and Coach of the Decade for the 1970s.

Earlier this year, KU's teams were ranked first in the country in the National Debate Tournament and Cross Examination Debate Association based on points earned by teams competing in various tournaments. Rankings vary near the end of the semester, Harris said, because of delays in submitting results and calculating points, but KU teams usually rank in the top five in varsity competition.

At KU Harris-coached teams have qualified for the NDT every year, advancing teams to the elimination rounds in 12 of 15 years including Final Four appearances in 1994 and 1998.

Harris came to KU in 1991 from the University of Louisville in Kentucky, where he had been head debate coach from 1984 to 1991. He was an assistant coach at Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., from 1981 to 1984 while working on his doctorate in communication studies. He received bachelor's and master's degrees in communication studies from Wayne State University, Detroit, Mich.

KU's 'Home of the Year'

Studio 804

For more information on Studio 804, go to the Studio 804 web site.

For the second time in three years, Architecture magazine has named a house designed and built by 20 KU architecture students as "Home of the Year."

The students are enrolled in Studio 804, taught by Dan Rockhill, professor of architecture. Their house, Modular 3, was completed in May. Perched on a hilltop at 534 Riverview Ave. in the historic Strawberry Hill neighborhood in Kansas City, Kan., the dwelling will be featured in the magazine's November 2006 issue. Studio 804's first modular house won the top award in 2004.

The latest honor continues the international recognition for Studio 804, a noteworthy class in KU's School of Architecture and Urban Design that creates and constructs a house within 20 weeks. In particular, its three modular designs have expanded the idea of what prefabricated housing can look like.

Rockhill oversees the students' work for the projects, which focus on energy efficiency, sustainable and/or recycled materials and affordable single-family houses. In most cases, the houses are the only new construction in old urban neighborhoods and become part of neighborhood revitalization efforts.

The Home of the Year program recognizes outstanding and innovative residences. KU students competed with hundreds of entries, most of them submitted by architecture professionals worldwide, not students. Winners are chosen based on overall design excellence, creativity, programmatic and site sensitivity and formal expression.

Studio 804 students volunteer their design and labor for the houses that are then sold to qualifying buyers. Past houses have sold in the $140,000 to $170,000 range.

Modular 3 is a 1,200-square-foot two-bedroom, one-bath house assembled from six prefabricated rectilinear modules. From the street, concrete steps lead to the house that is elevated on a platform supported by concrete piers. It faces southward and offers panoramic views of downtown Kansas City, Mo., through its extensive floor-to-ceiling windows. The recessed front deck offers a contemporary version of a streetside front porch and shields the front windows in the living area from glaring sunlight. One room has a movable wall so the homeowner can customize the interior space. Tall trees on the east filter morning light into the kitchen and main living areas. Bedrooms are at the rear of the house. All utilities are positioned together in a central building core area.

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