Youngmeyer’s exterior emulates a cutaway hillside of the Kansas Flint Hills, seemingly rising from the earth like natural limestone crests of the area. Similar to the dugouts of the Midwestern frontier days, the building is protected from northern winds and made more conspicuous by embedding partially into the earth. The form faces the eastern views of the sunrise, opening the building’s main gathering space to panoramic scenery. Sloping walls and a thin tapered roof further the camouflaging effect. 


  • Design build
  • Cost estimating
  • Site coordination
  • Self-perform
  • Project phasing


This 3,400 SF research station was fitted with a state-of-the-art lab and living quarters—all powered by an array of 30 photovoltaic panels and four Tesla batteries to store excess energy. 


This project was featured in two internationally recognized architecture publications, Dezeen and ArchDaily. Read each article here: Dezeen and ArchDaily


To protect against wind and wildfire, the entire structure – including the roof – is cast-in-place concrete, clad with a palette of only durable, noncombustible exterior materials: concrete, limestone, and glazing systems. “Being a good neighbor” in the Flint Hills requires minimizing any building’s impact on natural views, so keeping a clean roof line was a top priority. To maintain a discrete profile, the reaching cantilevered concrete roof tapers at the edge, all but disappearing when viewed from the closest neighboring property a few miles down the road.


Being “a good neighbor” in the Flint Hills also means consuming resources responsibly. The field station is run entirely off-grid with no connections to public or rural utilities. Primary power for the building is generated by an array of 30 photovoltaic panels on the roof and is stored in four Tesla batteries. All plumbing is served by well water, with 2,000 gallons of storage for general use and 450 additional gallons for the fire sprinkler system. Because of the facility’s location in a remote, wildfire-prone area, the building is protected by an NFPA 13D fire sprinkler system, with stored water to support 30 minutes of run time - just longer than the travel time to the nearest rural fire department.


The appearance and interior details of the Youngmeyer Ranch Field Station are inspired by the stratified stone underneath the surface of the Flint Hills. Finish materials are all natural tones, organized in patterns to evoke layers of sediment, heads of grain or even the night sky. Four varieties of natural limestone were used on the project, all harvested from Kansas quarries. One variety – Prairie Shell – includes many fossilized shells that tell the story of a prehistoric era.

The exposed concrete structure and a warm but earthy interior palette set the balance between a formal education facility and a field research site. Polished concrete floors with heavy exposed aggregate, striated wood ceiling patterns and horizontal stone band that wraps from outside to in continues this blending of the architecture with the landscape.

"This [facility] gives our faculty and our students new and deeper paths to access the massive research and applied learning potential of the ranch’s diverse ecosystem, providing the space and resources to analyze and reflect on their discoveries"

Andrew Hippisley

Dean, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Youngmeyer Ranch Field Station

As the drone sweeps over the Flint Hills, it's easy to see how the building was designed to appear as if it's rising from the ground like the jagged limestone of the area. The Flint Hills and a neighboring wind farm are the perfect backdrop for this sustainable new research facility.