The opportunity to design a major new performing arts center was precipitated by two significant decisions: the selection of an extraordinary site crowning the escarpment overlooking the historic warehouse district and the new entertainment district, affording a 180° view of the horizon; and the decision to construct two dedicated halls for symphony, ballet, opera, and theater. Downtown Kansas City, set upon a plateau, extends southwards towards an escarpment from where it descends, opening to an expansive view, which is further accentuated by the flat prairie landscape. To the north, one sees the drama of the downtown skyline with its grid of streets framing the property and the Kansas City Convention Center. I am a believer that the site of a project always holds the secret for its design concept. Walking around, I was compelled by the dramatic view to the south. Thus, I placed the two performance halls to face south, integrated and connected by a single great lobby—an expansive glazed porch contained by a glass tent-like structure. The drop in the land towards the south allowed us to include a new road that serves as the drop-off point and leads to a large underground parking garage on top of which sits a park. From the garage and the drop-off levels, the public ascends the grand stair to the great hall, with public gathering areas and the individual theaters on each side. Recognizing the significance of downtown as an additional access point, the North Entrance was aligned on the axis of Central Street, penetrating through the building into the theater lobbies.
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