Hare & Hare, Landscape Architects and City Planners Carol Grove and Cydney Millstein University of Georgia Press in association with Library of American Landscape History List price: $39.95; 264 pages Cemeteries are like cities. They need streets that efficiently accommodate traffic flow, harmonious neighborhoods of related structures, visual landmarks and vistas, and a sense of place that will attract not only its permanent residents but also visitors. Sidney J. Hare (1860–1938) was one of America’s most influential designers of such landscapes. “On a national level, Sid’s foremost contribution was his participation in the ideological and physical shaping of a new type of cemetery, one fit for the twentieth century,” write Carol Grove and Cydney Millstein in their book, Hare & Hare Landscape Architects and City Planners. What had once been spooky, gloomy, often remotely sited plots of land well outside the city limits for the dead, suddenly became, through the work of Hare and his son, S. Herbert Hare (1888–1960), in-town locales that were very much alive. The father-son team of landscape architects, based in Kansas City, designed fifty-four cemeteries throughout the country and one in Costa Rica—among them, Forest Hill in Kansas City, where they would both eventually be buried. In Monongahela, Pennsylvania, and Grandview in Salem, Ohio, which would forever change the way the dead and the living interact. The team fashioned cities of the dead that incorporated macadam-paved roads that honored the natural topographies, introduced engaging architectural elements, along with lakes and plant features, and chose foliage for the ways they would change throughout the seasons. A kind of design mantra evolved for them: More nature and less marble and stone. The elder Hare “understood more than aesthetics,” the authors recount in this first-ever dual biography of the designers, for he was “grounded [too] in the technical aspects of dealing with nature.” Quoting Hare directly, the authors write that he considered the best cemetery to be a “botanical garden, bird sanctuary, and arboretum.” The book proves that some of the best-recognized and most prized city planning designs are often ones whose makers go uncredited. “It was not until the formation of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) in 1899 and Harvard and MIT’s offering courses geared toward future practitioners the next year that landscape architecture began to coalesce as a profession,” write Grove, a professor of art history and archaeology at the University of Missouri, and Millstein, founder and principal of the Architectural and Historical Research in Kansas City. This record of the Hares' lives and works reinforces the notion that the discipline of landscape architecture is “the fourth fine art after architecture, painting, and sculpture.” The moment the elder Hare enlisted his son to join the firm he established in Kansas City’s Gumbel Building in 1910, the two embarked on making some of the most resonant landscapes in America. One of the great American places is Kansas City’s Country Club District, for which Hare & Hare would plan some 2500 acres over a forty-year period. They would incorporate extant pasture land and wood into some of the residential neighborhoods, including Mission Hills, defined by narrow, sinuous roadways, interior parks or “parklets”, as they called them, and carefully chose flowering shrubs and sculptural trees. So obsessed was the father-son team during their work on the complex, which they began in 1913 with the developer, J.C. Nichols, that no element was too small to be accounted for—weathervanes, bridges, the fonts on the signage, the placement of public artworks, the locales for campfire sites and bridle paths. Grove and Millstein expertly detail the process for this city planning project, recounting that the Hares made more than two hundred finished drawings, apart from those they executed for some of their many individual residential commissions within the district. “Transformed by Hare & Hare’s plan—praised as beautiful, thoughtful, and original—Mission Hills was perhaps the finest neighborhood executed for Nichols,” conclude the authors. No landscape, no matter how seemingly topographically challenged, couldn’t be tamed and transformed by Hare & Hare. For their many works in Houston, for instance, the elder Hare’s vision for the new residential neighborhood of Forest Hill embraced as one of its defining scenic attributes what many would have considered its biggest natural obstacle—a swampy, sinuous bayou. Making that watery source one of its focal points was a revolutionary idea in its day. He and his son decided to depart from the strict street grid of nearby downtown Houston and instead fashion a series of roadways that radiated in arcs, outward like a giant fan. Meanwhile, their work in planning the city’s exclusive residential neighborhood known as River Oaks—some 2000 acres of land—endures. As the authors point out, “Fifty years after its inception, the architectural critic Ada Louise Huxtable condemned 1970s Houston, but noted River Oaks’ exceptional planning.” Other notable projects of theirs documented by the authors include Houston’s Hermann Park, on which the Hares worked for more than twenty-five years, the expansive grounds of Tulsa’s Villa Philbrook (now open to the public as the Philbrook Museum of Art), the city of Longview, Washington, the Lake of the Ozarks, and parks in Fort Worth, Dallas, Joplin, Missouri, and elsewhere. Ultimately, upon the younger Hare’s death in 1960, the firm could list some four thousand projects in more than thirty states, Canada, and Costa Rica. As Robin Karson, executive director of the Library of American Landscape History (LALH) points out in her preface, the book “covers so much formerly uncharted territory in the history of American landscape design.” Indeed, LALH’s ongoing mission is to keep laying the often ignored historical groundwork for the discipline of landscape architecture. Even though the book immerses readers at times in the thick brambles of city bureaucracies and office politics through which the designers had to hack their way, the personalities of the two men emerge, so much so that the book functions, too, as a revealing biography of them. We feel them in action. Of Herbert, the authors state, “…he recognized that good design was achieved both over the drafting board and in the field, not by one or the other.” “Sid and Herbert believed that good landscape architecture was both a science and an art,” the authors state. “Although they emphasized the practical, functional role of their profession, they firmly believed that if a city for a garden ‘is not to be a work of art, then it would be best not to build it.’” We are grateful the Hares designed it and built it. And readers should be grateful this book was published to keep their accomplishments acknowledged and flourishing.
Posts tagged with "Kansas City":
It’s been a long road for those involved in Kansas City’s mega-plan to upgrade its outdated international airport, but the process is moving along. In late 2017, a proposal by Skidmore, Owings & Merril (SOM), put together in collaboration with the Maryland-based Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate, was overwhelmingly approved by the local city council, but less than a month later, things seemed to have gone awry. AECOM and local firm Burns & McDonnell announced their counterproposal for the new Kansas City International Airport (KCI) project after their scheme had been previously passed over earlier in the year after officials became frustrated with Edgemoor’s lack of clarity over how they would fund what was seen by some as unnecessarily expensive design moves. Burns & McDonnell sued to overrule the developer’s selection, but its efforts were in vain and the only real consequence was a significant trim to the budget for the KCI project. Now, two years later, Edgemoor and SOM’s plans have been finalized and the design is a bit flatter than originally proposed. Using feedback collected from local residents and stakeholders over the last year, the team revealed new renderings last week during a business session meeting with the Kansas City city council. The one-million-square-foot project is still scaled back as was previously unveiled last August, but the ideas are much more clear and include further details. Slated to be built on the site of KCI’s demolished Terminal A building, SOM’s single-terminal structure will combine the three existing terminals into one H-shaped design. It will feature a smooth, flat roof with skylights spanning the two-story check-in area, as well as narrow, clerestory windows in the public corridors. Floor-to-ceiling windows will light up the 39 gates within the terminal, also providing views of the surrounding airfield, with room for the building to expand to up to 50 gates. The design team will use warm, natural materials such as native wood and stone on the ceilings and walls respectively, paying homage to Kansas City’s welcoming atmosphere, according to officials. An indoor fountain will be integrated into the retail and dining “cul-de-sac,” which includes a small bevy of planters and seating for relaxing on before a flight. An interactive display detailing the history of Kansas City and the airport will be set aside in a corridor as well. On the other side of the terminal's entrance, a 6,300-spot parking garage will provide travelers with easier access to the main building. The revamped KCI is expected to open in four years ahead of the NFL Draft, which Kansas City is set to host in April 2023. The $1.5 billion project broke ground in March of this year.
Progress on the $1.3-billion Kansas City International Airport (KCI) is moving along after delays and a brief developer kerfuffle in December that saw AECOM attempt to win the project back from the Maryland-based Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate/SOM team. After soliciting community feedback, the SOM-led design team has released another round of renderings and revealed a more subdued version of the curvy terminal buildings seen previously. Voters initially approved the $1 billion replacement of the aging KCI last November. The clover-shaped airport originally opened in 1972, and its three drive-up, horseshoe-shaped terminals were rendered difficult to navigate following the release of new airport security requirements the same year. SOM’s H-shaped airport will consolidate all three terminals into a single building while keeping the curbside access that Missourians are used to. The original renderings, revealed after Edgemoor and SOM had secured the project, depicted a light, glassy building with a rippling roof and sail-like fins. In the updated designs, the roof has been smoothed out and flattened, a two-story fountain originally located in the departure and arrivals area has been removed, and a 4,500-square-foot lounge for frequent fliers has been added. Instead of the indoor fountain in the check-in area, which SOM removed to speed up arrivals, an outdoor water feature has been proposed for the area in front of the parking garage. A centralized “cul-de-sac” with retail and dining options along with a round performance space has also been replaced with a more rectangular "town square," which will feature local businesses and a teardrop-shaped performing area. The number of bathrooms will more than double, from the current 63 to 130, and SOM has used community feedback to design wide, accessible bathrooms for those traveling with baggage. Seven more community meetings have been scheduled for this September as Edgemoor continues to solicit stakeholder feedback. Demolition of KCI’s Terminal A is currently on hold while the Federal Aviation Administration conducts its environmental assessment, which should be complete sometime in September or October. The airport has already pushed its opening back from November 2021 to fall 2022 as the number of gates has risen from 35 to 39—the KCI currently has 31 gates in operation. While no budget has officially been set yet, the cost estimate has risen from $1 billion to $1.3–$1.4 billion, with the airlines pledging to pay for any additional costs.
Located squarely in the middle of the U.S., Kansas City is about as far from an international border as a place can get, yet the architectural output of this little city punches above its weight. Kansas City has sprouted a number of notable architecture firms that work on local, national, and international stages. Consider glass and metal specialists, Zahner, for example. The firm, which has been based in Kansas City for more than a century, has produced intricate facades and custom fabrications in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and North America. These include the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and its own headquarters in Kansas City, the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, Grace Farms in Connecticut, the Miu Miu Aoyama luxury retail store in Tokyo, a Maggie's Center in Dundee, Scotland, and a soccer stadium in Basra, Iraq. Zahner has now become the industry's go-to for bespoke, complex facades. The latter was a collaboration with another Kansas City-based firm, stadium specialists 360 Architecture (now HOK). Known as the Basra Sports City Stadium and completed in 2013, the development's landmark 65,000-seat stadium is draped in perforated and pre-weathered Solanum Steel panels that fall between an undulating concrete surface. "People wouldn't usually recognize a Kansas City firm for such a project," said Travis Bailey, a Senior Project Architect at HOK. "There's a lot going on here, locally and internationally, various project types and scales, and numerous types of innovation." Design excellence is being practiced in Kansas City, too, as local firms Helix Architecture + Design, SFS Architecture, Walter P Moore, Populous, STRATA Architecture + Preservation, BNIM, and Gould Evans are demonstrating with a mix of new and adaptive reuse projects, all varying in typology. Helix Architecture + Design's James C. Olson Performing Arts Center for the University of Missouri is a renovation and 4,000-square-foot expansion, completed in 2016, to address the functional deficiencies of the inherited 1970’s building. The renovation brought in more light and updated internal spaces. A new, bigger lobby has been encased by an added exterior glass curtainwall facade to enhance the building’s presence on campus, while improvements to the Spencer Theater have been made and a patron lounge expanded. Representatives of all these firms will be on hand to delve deeper into the growing architectural resources Kansas City has to offer at Facades+ AM next week on July 19. There, Travis Bailey will be joined by Gus Drosos, Technical Principal at HOK, as conference co-chair, overseeing three panels. These will look at how firms offer facade solutions in Kansas City, the U.S., and beyond, addressing the climate, client, and cultural challenges these bring. For more information click here. Seating is limited.
Not much was left after a devastating fire ravaged the Westport Presbyterian Church, in Kansas City, Missouri, in 2011. Originally built in 1905, the church saw its roof structure, interior structure, and all interior finishes destroyed. All that remained undamaged was the exterior limestone wall. This is where Kansas City–based BNIM began on what was to become a complete transformation of the neighborhood icon. Westport Presbyterian Church is located in one of Kansas City’s oldest historic neighborhoods, surrounded by streets lined with vibrantly painted bungalows and cottages. The lively neighborhood was originally the westernmost trading outpost in the region, serving pioneers venturing on the California, Santa Fe, and Oregon Trails, which all converged in Kansas City. By the time the church was built, the area had recently been annexed into the city, which was itself booming thanks to the railroad. The congregation dates to 1835, and the building has been in the same location since just after the Civil War. Yet even before the fire, the church was working to change its relationship with the surrounding community. “They had already started a process of rethinking what their church would be in the changing culture of Westport,” Erik Heitman, project architect at BNIM, said. “They wanted to re-envision what they were, and how they could serve the community. They not only had to re-envision what their congregation was, but what was the building that serves that mission. They never thought they would rebuild it as it was. This was a chance to reinvent themselves.” Rather than attempt to return the church to its original design, BNIM worked with the church staff to rethink how the community could use the building. A 1916 addition damaged beyond repair would be replaced by a new structure that included a bright public-facing storefront. A welcoming entrance directly on the street, and its interior space, are now available to local groups. The new construction would also provide space for creating and displaying art by one of the church’s own outreach organizations. Thinking about the outward connection to the community, the exterior space was redesigned to provide places to gather adjacent to corresponding interiors. While adding new functional spaces to the church updated the building’s use and presence in the neighborhood, it would be the restoration of the sacred spaces that would present the greatest challenges. It took firefighters over 13 hours to extinguish the fire, leaving the building either burned beyond recognition or destroyed by water. The original sanctuary, chapel, second floor, and basement would all have to be completely rebuilt. Yet, elements of the building were salvaged. Heitman described it as “a new sanctuary delicately placed into the original stone walls.” After a careful restoration, the stained-glass windows were reinstalled in the nave, this time at the parishioner’s eye level. Unable to be used structurally, 40,000 linear feet of the original wood framing was captured for interior finishes as well. Ironically, one of the new design elements of the sanctuary found its genesis in the temporary space the congregation used after the fire. While only limited natural light was allowed into the original sanctuary through stained glass, the temporary rental space was washed with natural light through clear vision glass. Wanting to include and improve this effect, a ribbon clerestory was added, encircling the entire sanctuary. Effectively filling the space with dramatic natural light, the clerestory also hints at the relationship between the new walls and the now-visible original stonewalls. While the destruction of a historic building is never a good thing, the long-standing congregation found a way to use it to their advantage. With a vision of what its congregation could be, and help from BNIM, the Westport Presbyterian Church was able to realize a more open and inviting presence in one of Kansas City’s most dynamic neighborhoods.
After Kansas City, Missouri, residents overwhelmingly voted last month to replace the outdated Kansas City International Airport (KCI) with a $1 billion, SOM-designed consolidated terminal, talks between developer Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate and the Kansas City government appear to have broken down. After the city council refused Edgemoor’s memorandum of understanding, AECOM and Kansas City–based competitor Burns & McDonnell have announced that they’re teaming up to mount a counterproposal for the new KCI. Although the vote to build the new airport was held in November, the developer selection process dragged on earlier this summer as Edgemoor, AECOM and Burns & McDonnell all submitted proposals to Kansas City officials. While AECOM, submitting under the banner of KCI Partnership, and Burns & McDonnell had both submitted plans that included detailed funding frameworks for the project, Edgemoor kept their funding plans vague and didn’t release designs for the new airport until after they had been selected as the winner. The memorandum of understanding was supposed to finalize the specific details of the arrangement between Kansas City and Edgemoor, but councilmembers have said that Edgemoor’s funding plan is still too vague for the city’s liking. Other than a lack of community investment, Edgemoor’s agreement would have also included a $30 million payout to Edgemoor if the project fell through, a provision the council found unacceptable. Councilman Quinton Lucas told The Kansas City Star that the council was right to reject the memorandum. “There’s a reimbursement agreement that obligates the city to potentially millions of dollars, a number of those costs incurred before the election,” said Lucas. “There was absolutely no detail on financing. I know we want flexibility, but we also want to know what we are binding the city to, potentially for years to come.” Following the failure to pass the memorandum, a resolution will be discussed this week that, if passed, would drop Edgemoor as the new KCI developer and scrap SOM’s plans to streamline the airport. Capitalizing on the potential shakeup, Burns & McDonnell has joined AECOM as part of KCI Partnership, and the group is putting together an alternate plan that would invest millions into the surrounding community. An AECOM, Burns & McDonnell partnership might have seemed unfathomable during the earlier selection process. Karl Reichelt, a senior managing director at AECOM, accused the KCI selection committee of "moving the goalposts" and tilting the process towards Burns & McDonnell after the committee asked additional, post-proposal questions of the teams. While at the time AECOM viewed this as allowing the other groups to reconfigure their packages on the fly, Burns & McDonnell were eventually disqualified for their proposed funding framework.
Voters in Kansas City overwhelmingly approved a new $1 billion plan on Tuesday to transform the Kansas City International Airport (KCI). Passed by a 75-to-25 margin, work now begins on tearing down the existing three terminals and consolidating the airport into one building. Leading up to the vote, Maryland-based Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate had been tapped by Kansas City officials to develop the airport, with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) designing. Opened in 1972, the clover-shaped KSI was almost immediately made obsolete in the same year by the passage of new airport security requirements. The horseshoe arrangement allows passengers to easily get from the street to the gate, but also precludes the rigorous security checkpoints that modern airports require. Public opinion over the terminals has been sharply divided ever since the installation of an unwieldy glass wall between the ticketing and boarding area, required by the FAA after a hijacking attempt. SOM’s proposal for the airport has tried to keep the same level of convenience that Kansas City residents are used to. Their H-shaped terminal will have two concourses and accommodate 35 gates, and the arrivals and departure area has been split across different levels while still retaining curbside service. An improved arrangement of dining and retail options has been added as well, especially important as the project will be funded in part by concessions sales. Most striking is the firm's attempt to bring natural light into the concrete-topped concourse. Floor-to-ceiling windows and an undulating roof structure that references rolling hills is split up with even more glass that will give passengers uninterrupted views. Besides adding parking and expanding the size of security areas to avoid a passenger backlog, SOM has also included a series of two-story-tall fountains capable of having messages projected into them, reminiscent of Safdie Architect’s Water Vortex in Singapore’s Changi Airport. However, the project may be still tenuous despite the project’s 2021 completion goal. Edgemoor had been selected by the city after promising to pay for the project by taking on private debt without burdening taxpayers, but this also exposes them to bearing any cost overruns down the line. The firm now has to complete a detailed construction agreement with the city or the project will be handed off to AECOM. The airport vote follows a riverfront master plan unveiled in July, and it looks like new development in Kansas City won’t slow down anytime soon. The full terminal master plan and set of site studies can be found here.
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The Museum at Prairiefire, located 20 miles south of Kansas City, Missouri, is designed as a regional civic hub containing educational traveling exhibits from the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The project, designed by Boston-based museum architecture and planning firm Verner Johnson, was inspired by one of the most unique aspects of the Kansas tallgrass prairie: the prairie fire burns. These controlled fires, which can be traced back to Native Americans, suppress invasive plants that help rejuvenate native grasses, promoting plant and animal diversity. The project involves two box-like volumes connected by a free-form volume of space clad with color-shifting materials compositionally organized to evoke flame bursts and spark-like effects. The faceted nature of the building perimeter, paired with a unique material palette of dichroic glass and iridescent metal panels, produces a dynamic envelope that changes with varying environmental light conditions. Jonathan Kharfen, Principal at Verner Johnson, said the concept to evoke fire was a core focus of the design team from very early on in the project. "If you have a strong concept, then all of your decision-making must support that concept—details, massing, materials—everything." Narrow tube columns are spaced 25” apart, encouraging people to stand between them. The architects say this apparent lack of structure makes the Great Hall volume float, expand around corners, and dynamically engulf the visitor. This structure is employed as support for the building envelope which consists of a structural silicone glazed system (SSG) of fixed insulated glass units (IGU) and a stick-built insulated exterior wall with metal panel cladding. Dichroic film is a transparent material that appears to change color when viewed from various angles. By faceting the plan geometry of the exterior walls, a wide range of color was achieved by one type of film. The film is laminated between two sheets of glass, which is placed into an IGU assembly. "As far as we know, dichroic has never been used in this way," said Kharfen. The glass units are compositionally arranged within a standard flat seam cladding system of metal panels. The color effects of these panels are produced by an electrochemical reaction between stainless steel and chromium oxide which builds up the material to specific depths. Ultimately, four different colors with various finishes were used on the project. The distribution of the tiles in a "paint-by-number" tiling pattern was determined by the architects well ahead of the final installation. "There was a lot of work that went into developing languages of the glazing and metal panels," he said. "To get to a realization of the concept you are working with is a long process—and to me, it's a process of developing a language with that material that evokes what you're trying to communicate." The dynamism of the metal panels and dichroic glass is cast against a stone veneer backup wall composed of a color mix that has been arranged in a gradient coursing. Bands of stone with specific percentages of color mixes helped to translate this concept into reality. The bottom 15 feet of wall shifts from limestone to an engineered stone product, which embeds into an undulating landscape that surrounds the building.
It is not likely that anyone has first-hand memories of the Willis Wood Theatre. Designed by noted Kansas City architect Louis Curtiss, and built in 1902, the impressive Beaux Arts theater burned to the ground in 1917. One hundred years later, as part of a major announcement at the D23 Expo 2017, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts announced it will be building a replica of the long-gone theater at near Main Street U.S.A. at the Magic Kingdom. The choice of a theater that no one has seen in a century is not random. Kansas City was the boyhood home of Walt Disney. Disney moved to Kansas City at the age of nine from Marceline, Missouri. While the small town of Marceline is the basis for the Main Street U.S.A. area at Magic Kingdom, there are also many references to Kansas City in the middle America–themed amusement park. In particular, signs from Kansas City's Laugh-O-Gram Studio, the studio in which Walt Disney invented Mickey Mouse, can be found throughout. While it is not known whether Disney ever attended shows at the Willis Wood Theatre, historians think it is likely. It is known that 33rd President Harry S. Truman frequented the theater to see Shakespeare plays performed. Built by Colonel Willis Wood, a successful dry goods merchant, the theater hosted live performances until being converted into a movie theater. Today the site of the block-and-half-long theater is home to the Mark Twain tower, a historic landmark in its own right. With no chance of the theater every being rebuilt in its original location, it would seem central Florida will be the place for those looking for turn-of-the-century Kansas City. The real question is whether the new theater's interior will match the reds, greens, blues, and gold that reportedly adorned the original, and whether the large nude caryatids will once again fill the main theater space.
The Kansas City Port Authority (Port KC) revealed its master plan to redevelop the city’s riverfront into a live-work-play area last month. Despite roadblocks during the early phase of development, the 80-acre Berkley Riverfront Park redevelopment project plans to make the area into an attractive, high-density mixed-use destination. Union, a mixed-use development by Indianapolis-based Flaherty & Collins Properties, broke ground last year and is on track to open next summer with more than 400 apartments and six acres of retail space. Once completed, the park will have new pedestrian and bikeway paths and have spaces for hosting events like Kansas City PrideFest, Riverfront Fitness, and KC Nanobrew Festival, according to a Port KC press release. The annual July 4 Riverfest is already held in the park. Other amenities and attractions will be built along the water, including a dog park that is slated to be built next year. The city is also looking into the possibility of expanding the streetcar line from the Downtown River Market to the Riverfront for better public access, with a feasibility study coming out in the next few weeks.
With what may be considered a slightly unorthodox move, Kansas City–based el dorado, inc. has named a curator and writer as a new partner. As a means of enforcing the intersection of architecture and contemporary art—which the firm has long explored—noted curator, Hesse McGraw is joining the office. His role will largely be to integrate curation and writing into the 20-year-old firm. With an interest in alternative practices, el dorado has long included architectural fabrication as part of their services. The firm also has maintained a gallery for installation-based artwork. Outside of the office, el dorado has had a productive relationship with art institutions and curators including McGraw who has worked on past projects. In 2004 the firm worked with McGraw on the MOVING IN MOVING OUT exhibition at the el dorado-design FLEX Self Storage in Kansas City. el dorado also worked with McGraw as part of the multidisciplinary consultant team for Phase II of The City of Calgary Utilities and Environmental Protection Department’s (UEP) public art plan. In addition to this, McGraw has extensive experience working in architecture, including collaborations with Min | Day on the Bemis Center in Omaha, Nebraska, Theaster Gates and the Rebuild Foundation on the Carver Bank in Omaha, and with BNIM on the Paragraph Gallery in Kansas City. Currently, McGraw is serving as the Vice President for Exhibitions and Public Programs at San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), where he commissioned his most controversial and uncanny architecture related piece. In 2014 McGraw and SFAI commissioned artist Jill Magid’s ongoing project The Proposal. The project centers around an attempt to retrieve the professional archive of Pritzker Prize-winning architect Luis Barragán. The archive is currently owned by Federica Zanco, art historian and wife of Vitra founder Rolf Fehlbaum. Fehlbaum acquired the archive as an engagement gift for Zanco in lieu of a ring. In the hopes of negotiating a trade for the archive, Magid has produced a ring set with a diamond made from the Barragán cremated remains. The diamond has subsequently been displayed in Zurich, Switzerland, home of Zanco, at SFAI, McGraw’s institution, and in Mexico City, Barragán’s home. So far, Magid’s attempts at retrieving the archive with the ring have not been successful. The Architect's Newspaper covered the story as it developed in 2016. “For the past decade, Hesse has redefined the role of a curator,” said el dorado Partner Josh Shelton in a press release. “He has stepped outside the walls of the gallery to activate the city and supported artists as they engage intractable problems at a global scale—and he does so with infectious optimism. The range of his curatorial expertise and fearless approach will expand the growing scope and reach of el dorado’s practice.”
The Design+Make Studio is a capstone design studio at Kansas State University that works in collaboration with Kansas City-based el dorado inc. The focus of this year’s studio is to design an affordable duplex in the Waldo area in Kansas City. The research-based studio involves graduate students addressing community needs using design as a way of problem-solving. In past years the studio has built numerous pavilions and gathering spaces around Kansas City and has worked with clients ranging from the Girl Scouts to government agencies. The current duplex project, however, will be by far the most ambitious. 7509 Pennsylvania was commissioned by Botwin Commercial Development, who will eventually build the project. Through working with Botwin, under the guidance of el dorado, the students are getting direct experience working with clients, budgets, and timelines. “The duplex is built to fulfill a need,” said David Alpert, partner at Botwin Commercial Development. “In Kansas City, rent is increasing at a rate that is 56 percent higher than the national average. There are many people who work in Waldo, but can’t afford to live in Waldo. This duplex project is designed to accommodate families and individuals who want quality housing at a price they can afford. Lease price will be set based on income levels.” The duplex itself utilizes a modest footprint while maintaining high-quality materials. Each unit will have two bedrooms and one bath, within a total of 730 square feet of living space. The reduced footprint allowed for more attention and resources to go into design elements such as landscaping, lighting, water runoff, and an improved spatial quality. “There were three goals of this project,” said David Dowell, el dorado principal and Design+Make instructor in a press release. “First, create quality housing people can afford in Waldo and second, ensure the project is truly adaptable. By accomplishing goals one and two, we can replicate the concept into different build sites and plans can flex to meet each developer and tenant’s needs. To further encourage replication, every stage of design and construction will be open-source.”