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design+make+sustain // Katie Bauer


Design+make’s Mobile Office has come to fruition and is taking physical form for all to see. Recently, one of my peers came up to me and asked, so, your masters thesis is a green furniture project? Appalled and frustrated I explained that although furniture/product by nature, our project signifies much more. As the design+make sustainability director for the Hardesty Renaissance Mobile Office, it is my job to sever the image of our project as “a green furniture project” and inform the public how it represents Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) /Hardesty Renaissance EDC sustainable mission.

Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.


-Environmental Protection Agency

The idea of green is most commonly associated with products. These products pledge to take part in preserving the environment and insure the costumer that they are connected to an organization. But what does green really mean? It is simply a term used to lure consumers to a product. It is not quantifiable. It measures nothing. That is why it is too vague a term to be associated with Hardesty Rennaissance Mobile Office or any piece of architecture. A more appropriate phrase is sustainability which encompasses a greater spectrum. Sustainability is system that values human, environment, and equitable development.

The greatest challenge in developing the sustainable narrative is distinguishing the effect our small efforts with the Mobile Office has on the future of the Hardesty Renaissance Complex. The ultimate goal for the site as Jim Turner, of Hardesty Renaissance EDC puts it in his interview with 41 Action News “storage, processing, and distribution of food”. Invest Northeast has already done a feasiblity study to site a food hub on the complex. To reach this goal, AAFE has started by establishing relationship with local stakeholders, city council members, and local architects, el dorado inc.


Now design+make plays a vital role in the future development of the site. Similar to the abandoned Hardesty Rennaissance Complex, we have created usable, beautiful, pieces of furniture from forgotten, decrepit materials. The Mobile Office emobodies a sensitivity to the planet by repurposing shipping pallets which serve as table tops and screening devices. It will not only serve as leasing office but serves as a conversation piece will inspire unrealized potential towards AAFE’s community development efforts.

Northeast Kansas City, Missouri has seen numerous planning studies and task force groups such as, Truman Plaza Area Plan, Independence Corridor Avenue Plan and Invest Northeast. Now is the time to show some tangible evidence of development and promote the sustainable future of Hardesty Renaissance. This is the end for Kansas State Universities involvement but just the beginning for the community. When we reveal our Mobile Office to the public May 8th, it is our goal to bring momentum and create excitement to the local community.

Written by Katie Bauer

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