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The beauty of a treasured antique stained glass window was the inspiration for Friends University Rose Window Plaza. The Plaza was created as the centerpiece of a landscaping plan designed to showcase the historic Davis Administration Building. Designated as a historic landmark building in the 1970’s, the century old building is one of the most unique in Wichita, Kansas.

“The Davis building is not only the first building built on the campus, it is the largest and therefore is a visual landmark seen as far away as the highway,” Lee Engler, Landscape Architect, Wilson, Darnell, Mann, said. "It has great historical value to the school and architecture you don’t see today. The window and plaza area are very meaningful and symbolic to the alumni. Graduation ceremonies are held in the auditorium.”

Friends University created Rose Window Plaza, an intricately designed pave stone plaza incorporating colors and cut stones to replicate the intricate detail of the stained glass window, as the focal point for the east campus landscaping project. The pave stone plaza design intent is to showcase the Davis building increasing the campus beauty.

The rose patterned stained glass window is treasured by faculty, students, administrators and generations of alumni. Studies show that an attractive campus is a key asset in attracting new students. Friends University has undertaken numerous landscaping projects to increase campus aesthetics and during this time, enrollment has increased 77 percent.

Dave Peters, National Sales Director for Pavestone Company explained, "The 110 year old Romansque-style Davis Administration Building occupies a special place in the hearts of alumni. Among the building’s most cherished features is the stained glass rose window in the third floor Alumni Auditorium. Many alumni fondly recall the beauty of the window, which is located high on a west wall near the auditorium’s vaulted wood ceiling. During the late afternoon, sunlight filters through the window creating a beautiful glow within the room.”

“When we began working on the project, we toured the Davis building,” Engler stated. “At first we didn’t think much about the stained glass window, but one morning as I drove past the building, it occurred to me that if the sun were shining through the building and there were no walls in the building the window would be reflected on the plaza area outside.”

The University Landscape Committee implemented the idea. The Rose Window Plaza is located at the front steps of the Davis building. Originally a weathered asphalt road bisected the campus connecting the Davis building to University Street. The road physically and symbolically divided the campus. “Because of the need for emergency vehicle access, the circle was full of big, ugly ‘No Parking' signs,” said Hervey Wright, Vice President for University Relations, Friends University. “The road leading to the circular drive was always lined with cars that effectively made it impossible to walk across campus. Before, the area in front of the Davis building was never used; the new design has brought it to a human scale.”

The committee elected to remove the road to create a plaza area with increased green space. Since building access was necessary for emergency vehicles, a plastic reinforcement was incorporated into the lawn area.

Built in 1896, the historic Davis Building is home to the rose patterned stained glass window whose design was replicated in the pave stone campus plaza. The building was the first to be built on campus and is the largest. The pave stone plaza design intent is to showcase the Davis Building, increasing the campus beauty. Lee Engler, Landscape Architect said that the window and plaza area are very meaningful and symbolic to the alumni.

The selection of paving material for the Plaza was a critical aspect of the design. “Kirby Jantz recommended the use of Pavestone pavers,” Hervey Wright, stated. “He knew that he could count on Pavestone to provide not only the different shapes, but the different colors we needed for the project.”

“We prefer to use pave stones on projects in order to achieve flexibility in color and design,” Kirby Jantz, Owner, Heartstone, Inc., said. “Because of the complexity of the design, the colors of the pave stones made the distinction between the various facets.”

Engler agrees. “The color selection is great. It offered us plenty of variety and contrast which was critical to the design,” he said. “Pavestone Company is local and that helps to insure that we get the product we want in the time we want it.”

Steve Morgan, President, Kansas City Building Products met with the committee providing a number of product samples to review the variety of color, shapes and textures to choose from and supplied all the pave stones, edgers and sealers used in the installation. Wilson, Darnell, Mann (WDM) created the original plaza design; then the University simplified it. Heartstone, Inc. was contracted for the installation. Using measurements and radiuses, the design was executed into the large scale plaza.

The road and circular drive in front of the Davis Building was in poor condition and unsightly with stains and obstructed pedestrian traffic. Hervey Wright, Vice President for University Relations said that "the road leading to the circular drive was always lined with cars that effectively made it impossible to walk across campus." The road was removed to create a plaza area with increased green space. A plastic reinforcement was incorporated into the lawn area for emergency vehicle access to the building.

“We have incorporated pave stones into entry areas of all three new building we have built,” Hervey Wright stated. “As it stands now, most of the buildings on campus have pavers. We have fiber optics running underground throughout the campus as well as underground utilities. We were drawn to the fact that any need to access the underground utilities would be easier and less expensive with pave stones. The durability and pleasing looks lend continuity to the campus. It sure beats plain concrete!”

Low maintenance is an added benefit of the pavers. “Since pavers are manufactured under pressure and are so dense, we find they really resist staining,” Wright said. “If someone spills grease on the pavers it is not the same problem as if it were plain concrete—pavers are so much easier to keep clean.”

The impact on Friends University has been tremendous. Studies show that an attractive campus is a key asset in attracting new students. Friends University has undertaken numerous landscaping projects to increase campus aesthetics and during this time, enrollment has increased 77 percent. Alumni donations have also increased. The Rose Window plaza and courtyard won the 1996 Commercial Precast Concrete Pavement Award from Concrete Products Magazine. In November 2000, the American School and University Facilities Purchasing & Administration organization recognized the project as one of the most outstanding landscape architecture projects.

Engler and Wright describe the effect the pave stone Rose Window Plaza continues to have on the campus and community in this way: “It is home to commencement speeches, art and performance programs. It provides a great photo opportunity—the Plaza has been featured on the cover design of the local phone directory. Local merchants photograph their equipment on it. And it has also served as the romantic backdrop for several weddings.”

What began as a concept of a cherished stain glass window’s reflection on the campus was brought to life by a team of passionate and creative industry professionals. Today their executed dream allows for the blending of a popular, century old window design into a modern, multi-use campus feature.

Decorative pave stones allowed the Friends University Landscape Committee to recreate the cherished window design into the campus plaza. The design has won several awards and brought increased campus recognition. Among the awards that the design has won include: the 1996 Commercial Precast Concrete Pavement Award from Concrete Products Magazine. In November 2000, the American School and University Facilities Purchasing & Administration organization recognized the project as one of the most outstanding landscape architecture projects.

Friends University Rose Window Plaza:

Owner: Friends University

Design Firm: Wilson Darnell & Mann, Wichita, KS

Landscape Architect: Lee Engler,

Wilson Darnell & Mann, Wichita, KS

Contractor: Kirby Jantz, Heartstone Inc.

Distributor: Steve Morgan, Kansas Building Products

Manufacturer: Pavestone Company

Project Statistics:

Total Square Feet: 12,000

Pattern- 9,000 sq. ft., Holland Stone

(red, charcoal, sandstone); 6x6 Symetry Square (pewter)

Field and adjacent paved areas: 3,000 sq. ft.

Uni-Decor (antique red)

2,000 Linear Feet of Cuts

Completion Time: 3 Weeks LASN

Alva D. Logsdon is a writer whose work has been featured in several national magazines, and is a designer of collateral material, websites and electronic media. She is the Director of Marketing for Pavestone Company. hello


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October 17, 2019, 9:23 am PDT

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