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Interior Architecture Students Study Iconic Kappa Sigma House

Drawings of Sigma Kappa House Thesis Project

Justin Millerand Kevin Moore will present the studio work from their 2011 Interior Architecture Summer Thesis studio at the 2012 ACSA International Conference in Barcelona in June. Their students spent the summer studying the work of Auburn alumnus Paul Rudolph and proposed a renovation of the Rudolph-designed Kappa Sigma House on the Auburn campus. Designed in 1960, the Kappa Sigma House has been condemned due to smoke and fire damage from a fire in 2000.The Kappa Sigma fraternity has started an ongoing renovation with the goal of reoccupying the house as a lodge.


Typically Summer Thesis combines design, research, professional practice, history and theory into an intensive 10-week course of student. Recently, Summer Thesis has embraced renovation as an innovative practice, meeting new challenges with economically feasible and inherently sustainable solutions. The proposed renovation of the Kappa Sigma House served as a case study in maximizing effects with a minimum of resources.


The studio developed drawings that probe the complexity and joy of several Paul Rudolph buildings. These drawings focus attention on the mutable pleasures of air including breezes, convective currents, acoustic reverberation, and air-scattered light. In addition to the Kappa Sigma House and nearby Tuskegee Chapel, a trip to Boston and New Haven allowed the studio to examine a substantial body of Rudolph’s work.


The studio also installed full-scale interventions in the Kappa Sigma House to test information in the air including internal pressure, velocity at openings, acoustic transmission and ambient light.  As a result, architectural solutions include carefully considered openings, curtains and ventilation to create meaningful thermal variety.  In some cases, activities are proposed to occur in thermal zones rather than rooms.  In many cases, materials including lighting are proposed to engage additional sensory potentials of air.


 Students exhibited their work in the CADC Gallery in August and developed a publication to document the field studies, installations, and design proposals.  This work was presented to Batey Gresham, Auburn alumnus and member of Board of Directors for the Kappa Sigma Beta Eta Housing Corporation.


 “It is heartening that Kappa Sigma is committed to returning life to the house and celebrating the legacy of Paul Rudolph. We hope the study renews interest in the house and its future,” says Moore.