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MU Students Design, Build Sustainable Dog House for Humane Society

April 11th, 2011

Story Contact: Nathan Hurst, 573-882-6217,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Several University of Missouri tigers are lending their paws to help out some four legged friends live in style and support the Central Missouri Humane Society (CMHS). Architecture and interior design students from the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences have put their creative skills to the test by designing and building a unique dog house out of sustainable materials.  The students, who all volunteered for the project outside of class work, entered their dog house into the “Mid-Missouri Barkitecture” contest, along with more than 10 entries from community organizations and professional architecture firms. The houses were judged and several awards given. The MU students won the Dog’s Choice award.

The MU students’ design was modeled off a 1960s era Airstream trailer.

The houses were then auctioned off to the highest bidders and all proceeds were donated to the CMHS. The students’ dog house design pays homage to Airstream trailers, which were common recreational camping vehicles in the 1960s that sported an aerodynamic design with a silver hull. The dog house 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 dog house, said the project was a great experience 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, a teaching assistant professor in the Department of Architectural Studies in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences, advised the student group while they designed and built the dog house. He says the school is always pushing the 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 aspect of the “Mid-Missouri Barkitecture” 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 CMHS,” 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.”