Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
Apr. 17, 1998

Design students lend ideas to new Carlisle home

by Anne Dolan

When it is completed next winter, the home of Carlisle's "first family" may contain features suggested to Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey by 20 ISU design students. Architecture students of Jamie Horwitz and landscape architecture students of Susan Herrington were invited earlier this semester to assist the design team at Wells, Woodburn & O'Neil, Des Moines, in recommending family-friendly modifications to a colonial house plan the McCaugheys selected.

In addition to a 2-year-old daughter, Bobbi and Kenny are parents of the world's first surviving septuplets, a media event covered around the world in November, when the babies were born.

The students' home modifications were inspired, in part, by parents of multiple-birth children. Class members sought advice at a Web site for that population and received some "fabulous" letters on reconfiguring rooms and purchasing equipment, Horwitz said. Parents were extremely generous and helpful with their suggestions, she said.

"Our students were trying to make a good fit, not just for the seven babies and their parents, but for a 2-year-old girl and the volunteers that are helping out," she said.

Some of the students' ideas included pocket doors to separate key rooms on the main floor, garbage and laundry shoots, a dumbwaiter for moving bottles between floors, Dutch (split) doors in which the bottom half is Plexiglas so parents can see toddlers in another room, an additional dishwasher and refrigerator in the kitchen and a bathtub that is accessible from three sides instead of one. Students also made recommendations for a deck, background play environment and toy storage shed, and for specific home products and equipment (for example, a shop vac in the eating area) with an eye on reliability and energy efficiency for the long term.

The classes' gift to the McCaugheys included a compilation of many of the letters and well wishes they received via the Internet from other parents of multiple-birth children.

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