We are currently in Beta version and updating this search on a regular basis. We’d love to hear your feedback here.

Prairie New School: Kansas City’s Architectural Renaissance

Prairie New School: Kansas City’s Architectural Renaissance

The American Midwest is making a new name for itself. While cities like New York and Los Angeles are known as global design capitals, dynamic modern architecture has begun emerging across the country’s fly-over states. Advocating world-class architecture, sustainability, and craft, Kansas City has become a leader in great American design.

© Michael Robinson© Mike SinclairCourtesy of Michael Spillers Photography© Mike Sinclair+ 12

© James Ewing
© James Ewing

Undergoing radical transformation, the “Paris of the Plains” has experienced significant social, economic, and cultural change within the last twenty years. These larger forces have underpinned the city’s evolution. Home to some of the country’s finest examples of Art Deco Style buildings, Kansas City also leads the world in sports architecture. Firms like Populous and 360 Architecture (now under HOK) have built iconic designs, including London’s 2012 Olympic Stadium and Kansas city’s own Sprint Center. Today, Kansas City boasts some of the most celebrated civic and public projects in the United States.

The following collection showcases contemporary architecture found across Kansas City and the broader region. Designed by local architects, international offices, and academics alike, the designs illustrate a rich design culture. With commercial, academic, and cultural designs, the collection includes work created through different scales and programs. Together, the projects begin to embody Kansas City’s new architectural renaissance.

Boulevard Brewing Company Cellar 1 Expansion / El Dorado

© Mike Sinclair
© Mike Sinclair

Boulevard Brewing Company desired a fast-track process for design and construction for an expansion project that would add (8) 40’-0” tall tanks to a 15’-0” tall existing structure. The tanks, planned for the production of hops beer, needed to be accessed 24 hours a day to regulate the addition of ingredients. BBC selected a project team assembled by an architect-led design-build delivery process to execute a complex assembly of components within very tight quarters.

David T. Beals III Studio for Art + Technology / Gould Evans

© Lara Shipley
© Lara Shipley

Bridging between the present and future of art, the new David T. Beals III Studio for Art and Technology at the Kansas City Art Institute creates a flexible, technology-rich learning and working environment that supports the prototyping and development of innovative student projects. Recognizing the Institute’s need for a space that helps students become skilled in using digital fabrication technologies to communicate their ideas, Gould Evans responded by designing a versatile, open, daylit volume to provide maximum flexibility, both as a daily work space and over time as educational programming and technology evolves.

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts / Safdie Architects

© Tim Hursley
© Tim Hursley

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.

Henry W Bloch Executive Hall at University / BNIM + Moore Ruble Yudell

© James Ewing
© James Ewing

A co-founder of H&R Block and long-time benefactor to his city, Henry W. Bloch recently presented a generous gift to the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Bloch School of Management for the creation of the next generation of business school facilities the new Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. For the new facility, BNIM and Moore Ruble Yudell worked closely with the Bloch School of Management and the university to develop a unique program that reinforces the school’s core values.

Zahner Factory Expansion / Crawford Architects

Courtesy of Crawford Architects
Courtesy of Crawford Architects

Zahner’s continuing success as one of the world’s foremost architectural metal manufacturers prompted the need for an expansion of their manufacturing facility at 8th and Paseo Blvd. in Kansas City, Missouri. The location for the expansion ties into the northern façade of a 30-year-old weathering steel clad facility and re-imagines a roughly paved concrete assembly yard surrounded by an unsightly chain link fence. The design intent was to convert this underutilized area into a large column-free assembly space, with ample clear height to move material around on 2 large cranes, and make a seamless connection to the existing factory floor.

Glass-Walled Labyrinth / Robert Morris

© Josh Ferdinand
© Josh Ferdinand

A triangular-shaped, glass-walled labyrinth designed by acclaimed artist and Kansas City native Robert Morris was installed in the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. This dynamic sculpture provides visitors with an intimate experience, enticing them to interact with the art by winding through the glass maze. The installation of Glass Labyrinth in the southeast section of the park marks the start of a six-month long celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park.

Artery Residence / Hufft Projects

© Michael Robinson
© Michael Robinson

This home we named the Artery residence. The couple has been repeatedly named by ARTnews in the top 200 contemporary art collectors globally. The focus of this home is the art collection and how it flows and is pumped throughout the home, by way of a main ‘artery’. Art is at the heart of this home. Hufft designed a custom residence for two prominent contemporary art collectors and philanthropists.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art / Steven Holl Architects

© Andy Ryan
© Andy Ryan

The expansion of The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art fuses architecture with landscape to create an experiential architecture that unfolds for visitors as it is perceived through each individual's movement through space and time. The new addition, named the Bloch Building, engages the existing sculpture garden, transforming the entire Museum site into the precinct of the visitor's experience. The new addition extends along the eastern edge of the campus, and is distinguished by five glass lenses, traversing from the existing building through the Sculpture Park to form new spaces and angles of vision.

St Teresa’s Academy Windmoor Center / Gould Evans

Courtesy of Michael Spillers Photography
Courtesy of Michael Spillers Photography

This Catholic independent college preparatory school for young women wanted to add a new chapel and academic space on the main campus quadrangle. After surveying students and faculty, a vision for the chapel emerged as a soft, feminine, contemplative space flooded with light and connected to nature. There was a strong desire to connect to the narrative of St. Teresa, the patron saint of lace makers. Achieving harmony between sacred and secular is the very essence of the school’s mission, and was the charge facing the design team. 

Prairie Logic / El Dorado

© Mike Sinclair
© Mike Sinclair

Prairie Logic is a collaboration between Brooklyn-based artist Janet Zweig and El Dorado. Comprised of a full scale perforated aluminum boxcar in a 25,000 square foot sea of native prairie grass, it was commissioned by the City of Kansas City, Missouri as part of their 1% for Art program. The work was situated on a half-acre planted roof 4 stories above Main Street in Downtown Kansas City. It was designed to be experienced at three different scales: viewed from the neighboring skyscrapers looking down; viewed in the distance from the green roof; and experienced close up as both a place of solitary contemplation and as a performance space.

About this author
Cite: Eric Baldwin. "Prairie New School: Kansas City’s Architectural Renaissance" 01 Apr 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/954864/prairie-new-school-kansas-citys-architectural-renaissance> ISSN 0719-8884

You've started following your first account!

Did you know?

You'll now receive updates based on what you follow! Personalize your stream and start following your favorite authors, offices and users.