Posts tagged with "Kansas City":

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The University of Kansas’s Paola Sanguinetti on the role of the user in facade performance

Image credit: James Ewing/OTTO When it comes to using computational tools to predict the energy and cost savings associated with high performance facade design, explained Paola Sanguinetti, Professor of Architecture at The University of Kansas (KU), AEC industry professionals often leave out a critical factor: the user. "My recent research explores how we can model the relationship between the comfort of the users and their perception of the space, and how that affects [environmental performance]," said Sanguinetti, who will participate in a presentation block on "Parametric Facade Optimization at All Scales" at September’s Facades+AM Kansas City symposium. "Depending on the kind of facade utilized, the way the user modifies the space really impacts the envelope and thus the overall performance of the building." Another research priority at KU, said Sanguinetti, has to do with modeling building performance at different scales, "from thermal bridges to how the facade [as a whole] aids in energy reduction." The focus on scale, she said, is part of "a more holistic view of building environments," which considers individual buildings as components of a broader network, such as a university campus or neighborhood. "How you can look at metrics for evaluating performance on the urban scale is very relevant for Kansas City," given its smart city aims, said Sanguinetti. According to Sanguinetti, Kansas City’s design and building communities exemplify an integrated approach to modeling and fabrication. "Zahner has pioneered the collaborative approach to design specification and manufacturing," she said. The city’s sports architecture firms, too, "have a very strong collaboration with consultants." At KU, the architecture program emphasizes "sustainability, but also understanding the entire process, and the importance of collaboration," explained Sanguinetti. In 2014, for instance, the design/build program Studio 804 created The Forum, an addition to the university’s historical School of Architecture building Marvin Hall. Graduate students worked with Transsolar to evaluate the addition’s double skinned facade, including performing a survey of student use. There is, of course, always room for improvement, said Sanguinetti. The local AEC industry could do a better job of sharing data on projects. In addition, "embedding risk analysis is important to help have a good conversation about building envelopes," she said. "Any simulation is an estimation; again, the human variable is critical to understanding building performance." Meet Sanguinetti and other leading lights of Kansas City’s facades scene at Facades+AM September 15. Seating is extremely limited; register today!
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el dorado wins AIA Small Projects Award for Girl Scouts project

Kansas City, Missouri-based el dorado has been awarded an AIA Small Projects Award for the Girl Scouts Camp Prairie Schooner bunkhouse. The theme of this year’s national award was “Small Gesture, Big Impact.” High on a bluff over the Little Blue River sits Camp Prairie Schooner. The Girl Scouts of NE Kansas and NW Missouri hired el dorado to design a new bunkhouse/trail center, as well as modern restrooms and shower facilities. The project also includes flex rooms and kitchens to serve up to 40 campers year round. The 7,200-square-foot two-building project is sited near the camp’s current dining facility to create a drop off zone for campers and “council rings.” The illuminated facades of the project act as a night lantern for campers, as well as a beacon for the camp from the road. el dorado’s design is meant to emphasis the Girl Scouts’s investment in promoting the confidence, self-reliance, and problem solving skills, ideas that are all part of the organization’s mission. By bring the conversation of architecture to the camp, the Scouts hope to encourage an interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).
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el dorado’s Josh Shelton on merging facade design and fabrication

For el dorado Principal Josh Shelton, facade design and fabrication are simultaneous, rather than sequential, practices. "el dorado was founded on the premise that design and fabrication were a unified act," he explained. The firm often prototypes or constructs physical components of its project in its in-house fabrication shop. "Our approach to facade design evolves from that hands-on rigor and sense of craft that we've developed over the last 20 years of being a practice," said Shelton. Shelton will participate in the "Materials + Surfaces" presentation block at the upcoming Facades+AM Kansas City symposium with A. Zahner Company's L. William Zahner and Paul Neidlein, of JE Dunn Construction. Shelton is particularly intrigued by opportunities to combine new technologies and traditional materials. As an example, he cites an el dorado project in Denver's LoDo district. Faced with strict contextual constraints, the firm is taking "a very high tech approach to the design of brick facades, using computational design to pixelate bricks," said Shelton. "We're meeting historical guidelines in fresh, innovative ways. We're using a refined sense of craft to take a material that evolved from an artisan material to a very vanilla material, back to a more artisan approach." In Kansas City, noted Shelton, el dorado is not alone in exploring the synergy between design and fabrication. "We've got a deep bench with regard to good architects," he said. "There's also a rich tradition of craft and making. It's on that tradition of great architecture and smart fabrication that we've molded our practice." Hear more from Shelton, Zahner, and Neidlein, plus other experts in facade design, engineering, and fabrication, at Facades+AM Kansas City. Register today on the conference website.
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Helix Architecture + Design’s Miranda Groth on designing facades for Kansas City

Kansas City, Missouri's hot, humid summers and cold winters pose a special challenge for AEC industry professionals when it comes to facade design and construction. "We deal more with vapor control through our building skin, making our building more efficient from that standpoint—adding more insulation, but also trying to not create problems with that," explained Helix Architecture + Design's Miranda Groth. "We haven't been able to be as experimental with our facades as, for example, Seattle or even Boston." Groth, along with Anthony Birchler of A. Zahner Company, is a co-chair of the Facades+AM Kansas City symposium September 15. In addition to grappling with the city's unique climate, said Groth, "We've been slow on the uptake with energy [efficiency] because energy's been cheap in the Midwest. It's harder to make the case to clients." One workaround comes of collaborating with fabricators like A. Zahner Company. (Zahner VP Anthony Birchler is the other Facades+AM Kansas City co-chair.) In those cases, factors including aesthetics can help tip the scale in favor of green design. In terms of innovative facade design opportunities, said Groth, Kansas City is a hotspot for adaptive reuse. "Right now there's a huge shift to go back downtown," she explained. "Even buildings as recent as those built in the 1960s have hugely inefficient envelopes. We're now going in and trying to retrofit them to be more energy efficient." The city is also a center for sports architecture. "I see a lot of those firms pushing new innovations on what to do with building skins," said Groth. Groth has nothing but praise for her fellow Kansas City-based design and building professionals. "I feel like we're excelling or at least keeping up with coastal cities in new ideas," she said. "The technology is there. The architects in town will set a new standard." Meanwhile, "we have amazing structural engineers in town. It's exciting that we have all that locally." Hear more from Groth and other facades experts at Facades+AM Kansas City. Space is limited; register today to secure a spot.
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Kansas City’s Pickwick Plaza Hotel undergoing major renovation

In downtown Kansas City, the former Pickwick Plaza Hotel is currently being remade into an apartment building. Built in 1930, the streamline Gothic structure was a popular destination for County Judge Harry S. Truman prior to his presidency. The building, aside from being a hotel, also offered transit, office, and commercial services. Now, Helix Architecture + Design, with the backing of developers Gold Crown Properties, is transforming the vacant building into market-rate apartments while retaining its mixed-use history: the building will feature "hospitality rooms," street level retail shopping, laundry, recreation/workout facilities, parking garage, and a pool. According to the architects, the majority of the apartments are due to be one bedrooms, each covering approximately 500 square feet. Repairs to clock which dominates the arcade and former bus terminal will also be made as part of the project. Speaking to the Kansas City Star, Thomas Smith, President of Gold Crown Properties, said on July 11 this year that the renovation was "about 50-percent complete." The developer has reportedly been chasing the project since 2009. “It’s had many challenges, but it’s too worth it,” Smith said in 2013. “This building has fascinated me from the get-go." Before construction began, the building had been subject to vandalism while also suffering damage from fire in 1996. Under the name Royal Towers, the building had served as a development for government-assisted housing for the elderly, but closed in 2009. Since Smith began his pursuit of the property, the scheme's price has risen significantly from an initial estimate of $46 million to $65 million. “Up on the top floor of the garage, we ran into a $5 million surprise,” said Smith. “The major structural repairs stretched our already stretched budget.” 45 housing units are due to be available from November while the South towers will come onto the market March 2017, offering more apartments, a large glass-encased saltwater pool as well as commercial space and an Easterly view of Ilus Davis Park. So far the project has garnered positive responses. Jan Beately of Historic Kansas City said that even those who were resident "architecture junkies" weren't quite aware of the Pickwick hotel's architectural significance before plans were revealed to retain its former glory.
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University of Arkansas named inaugural recipient of el dorado prize

The University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture & Design will be the inaugural recipient of the annual el dorado Prize. The distinction is sponsored by the Kansas City–based architecture firm el dorado as part of its 20th anniversary. Awarded each winter, starting this year, the prize will work with a single university annually to identify high performing students. These students, entering into their final year of school, will be invited to interview for el dorado’s internship summer program. These paid internships will also include an additional stipend as a reward for academic excellence. Each year the prize will go to a different university, with faculty being asked to nominate students. Interns will be versed in the specific way in which el dorado runs its practice. This includes design build and cross-disciplinary design. The pick of Arkansas as the first recipient of the prize was an easy choice for David Dowell, principal at el dorado. “Longstanding relationships with the University of Arkansas faculty and alumni, including staff and collaborators, and a growing body of architectural work in Northwest Arkansas make this inaugural choice a natural one,” remarked Dowell in a press release. The el dorado prize joins in on a long tradition of professional offices running academic programs and scholarships. These include the PGAV Destinations recent support of Washington University’s Alberti Program and the prestigious SOM Prize. Peter MacKeith commented on the importance of the prize to the school, “The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design is pleased to be the inaugural site for the el dorado Prize, an important summer internship program that will stimulate and recognize the excellence of professional architectural education in the Midwest region.”
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BNIM cancels ultra-green Kansas City headquarters project after tax incentive controversy

Less than a year after presenting a design proposal to renovate an empty warehouse into their new national headquarters in the Crossroads Art District of Kansas City, local firm BNIM has withdrawn its plans. After a losing battle over tax incentives, the firm and the building’s owner have stated that without the financial support of the city, the project is not economically viable. The proposal by BNIM, the 2011 AIA National Architecture Firm Award winners, was envisioned as a “living” building that would efficiently use water and produce as much energy as it used. As planned, the building would achieve a higher standard than LEED Platinum, something that BNIM has achieved one other time in a built project in New York State. To achieve this level of sustainability, the project was planned to utilize numerous novel technologies and techniques, including a greenhouse to help with water management and a solar array used for energy, passive water heating and cooling, and shade. Also serving as a space for professional and academic education the firm described the project as “a global laboratory for quality sustainable design.” The firm would have used the top two floors of the 43,000 square foot building while the bottom floor was slated for retail, commercial, and office space. With the support of the mayor and city council, the $13.2 million project was hoping to utilize $5.2 million from the cities Tax Incentive Finance Committee (TIF). A hotbed issue in many cities, social justice activists and concerned Kansas City School District parents opposed the incentives going to the project, stating that too much money would be diverted from public schools. Understanding the concerns of residents, BNIM and the city attempted to negotiate and reformulate the proposal and incentive package to accommodate the resistance. The decision to provide the TIF money was to be voted on as a ballot initiative. By gathering petition signatures, opponents were able to stop the measure from even being added to the ballot, effectively killing the possibility of the money being released. BNIM has stated that its is still committed to staying in Kansas City, and will now be looking for a new office space as current projects require growth in the coming year.
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Over a quarter of the streetcar systems taking shape in the U.S. are in Midwest cities

According to the American Public Transportation Association, a public transit advocacy group, there are more than 90 cities in the United States that are actively considering implementing streetcar systems. Of those 90, over a quarter are in the Midwest. Though all in different stages of planning, development, and construction, a handful are well underway, with service beginning as early as 2016. Kansas City and Cincinnati are both in the process of live testing their newly manufactured cars, while Milwaukee debates expanding its current plans. Though hundreds of cities across the country once had streetcars, by the 1960s most had been dismantled with the rise of the private automobile and public bus systems. The current renaissance of streetcar construction is often attributed to cities interested in bolstering downtown transit options, and encouraging more ecologically sustainable modes of transportation. Downtown Kansas City, Missouri, may be the first of the new Midwest streetcar lines to open in early 2016. Dubbed the RideKC Streetcar, the light blue electric trolleys will services a 2.2-mile street along Main St. The system will have four cars running between 16 stops for 18 hours a day. Similarly to streetcars of the past, electricity will be drawn from overhead wires. Unlike past services, the new cars will be wi-fi enabled and free to ride. This first leg of construction is being positioned as a first step in a much larger plan to link the entire Kansas City region with multi-model integrated transit system. Detroit’s new streetcar system will be unique in that it was masterminded by a private non-profit organization. The M-1 Rail, to open by 2017, draws on the economic power of small and large businesses along its route, philanthropic institutions, and a close tie with city government to realize a complex funding and administrative system for the public-private venture. At one point the project was envisioned to expand to a 9 mile route, with more involvement from regional transit partnerships. After multiple feasibility studies it was found that, for economic reason, the 3.3 mile current route was more viable, with possibilities of expansion in the near future. The path to building streetcar systems is often far from smooth. With resistance from state and local governments, it took Cincinnati voters electing new city councilors and rejecting multiple anti-rail ballot initiatives to realize their new transit system. With discussions starting in earnest in 2007 and construction starting in 2012, it will be nine years in the coming when the system finally opens in September 2016. The 3.6 mile loop will service the Over the Rhine neighborhood and the downtown, highlighting the original intent of the system to encourage development in both districts. The Over the Rhine neighborhood, a member of the National Register of Historic Places, has been experiencing a renaissance in the last 10 years, after decades of struggles with crime and declining population. In the case of Milwaukee’s streetcar project, set to open in 2018, the resistance has not been coming from the government as much as from a small group of vocal opponents, who have taken issue with the $124 million project. Though, with a recent failure of a petition to stop further expansion of the already approved first leg of the system, the opposition seems to have dried up. The majority of the funding for the Milwaukee Streetcar is coming from U.S. Department of Transportation grants and Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) Districts. The city and the federal government are betting on the street car to relieve vehicle congestion and pollution while raising property values along the route. Anticipating the rail’s impact on downtown Milwaukee, a 44-story residential tower by local architects Rinka Chung is planned to begin construction in 2016. The base of the project will integrate a streetcar stop along with shopping and office programs. Though it may have been 50 years since many U.S. cities have had street cars, the next five years will see large moves to reverse that situation. Along with KC, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Detroit, St. Louis, MO, and St.Paul, MN, are making moves to implement their own streetcar systems. With the rise of the suburbs and automobile travel often being blamed for the decline of the streetcar, it would seem that this new trend might be pointing towards yet another indicator of the tendencies of contemporary city dwellers. A greater environmental consciousness, neighborhood investment, and a shifted understanding of economic stability, define the values of a young population that streetcar systems across the Midwest, and the entire country, hope to leverage into success.
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New round of TIGER Grants goes out to cities and states

The federal Department of Transportation has issued its latest round of its Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants for cities and states around the country. The grant program was created in 2009 through President Obama’s economic stimulus package and has since provided $3.5 billion to 270 projects. While the DOT has not officially announced the recipients of these new grants, which total $600 million, multiple politicians have been touting the money heading to their districts. Here are some of the projects we know about so far. In New York, Senator Chuck Schumer and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the New York City Department of Transportation will receive $25 million for its Vision Zero agenda to reduce pedestrian fatalities. According to the city, the money will fund 13 projects aimed at traffic calming, safety improvements in school zones, new public spaces, and “pedestrian and bike connections to employment centers.” Specifically, the money will be used to extend the Brooklyn Greenway and make 4th Avenue in Sunset Park, Brooklyn safer to pedestrians. In Philadelphia, $2.5 million has been awarded to support the city’s effort to create a bus rapid transit system along Roosevelt Boulevard. “Planned developments on Roosevelt Boulevard include modifications to provide safe pedestrian crossings, transit access, and effective separation of express traffic from local traffic accessing neighborhood destinations,” Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey said in a statement. In Virginia, U.S. Senator Mark Warner announced that nearly $25 million has been allocated for a bus rapid transit system in the city of Richmond. The Times Dispatch reported that for this project to happen, the federal money must be matched with about $17 million from the Department of Rail and Public Transportation and another $8 million from Henrico County and the City of Richmond. In St. Louis, $10 million will go towards a new Metrolink station in the city’s emerging Cortex innovation district. The funding will cover almost all of the $13 million project which is expected to be complete in 2017. On the other side of the state, in Kansas City, $1.2 million has been awarded for the Mid-America Regional Council’s Workforce Connex planning to study to better connect the city’s workers with public transit.
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Back in the game: HOK to acquire 360 Architecture, reenter sports architecture field

In a power play for the world of arena architecture, HOK has announced it will acquire Kansas City's 360 Architecture. Their union marks HOK's return to the world of sports and entertainment facility design, possibly to compete with Populous, another Kansas City-based firm that spun off from HOK Sports Venue Event in 2008. HOK started HOK Sports in 1983, but that firm (now called Populous) no longer has any affiliation with St. Louis-based HOK.  The global design firm's merger with 360 creates the largest architectural firm in Missouri. “Joining HOK enables us to take advantage of an exceptionally strong global platform and to expand our sports facility design practice while offering our clients additional expertise in other markets,” 360 Principal Brad Schrock said in a statement. “This also brings HOK, a global design leader in many building types, into the heart of Kansas City.” 360’s current projects include the Rogers Place arena for the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, and a new stadium for the Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes. Major competitors for the new HOK sports design giant will likely remain Dallas-based HKS and Seattle’s NBBJ. The two had been short-listed to design a major new stadium for the Detroit Red Wings, but developer Ilitch Properties selected none other than 360 Architecture as lead designer and architect of record on that project. Meanwhile HKS is tackling a new Vikings arena in Minneapolis, while NBBJ fields Lexington, KY’s storied Rupp Arena.
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BNIM’s Entrepreneurial Envelope for the University of Missouri-Kansas City

A tight budget and short timeline inspired an innovative concrete and terra cotta facade.

BNIM and Moore Ruble Yudell approached the design of the Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Missouri-Kansas City with two objectives. The first was to express the creative spirit of the university’s program in entrepreneurship, which at that point lacked dedicated support spaces. The second goal was to tie the contemporary structure to its historic surroundings. Moore Ruble Yudell, who developed many of the project’s interior concepts, tackled the former, creating flexible classroom and laboratory spaces and a multi-story amphitheater that doubles as casual seating and a venue for school-wide gatherings. As for the latter, BNIM designed a multicolored terra cotta envelope that balances singularity with connection. “The idea was to create a building that sat by itself, but somehow bring it into context in terms of materials,” explained BNIM senior project architect Greg Sheldon. Because so much of the existing campus architecture featured masonry construction, the architects “had a desire to use a fired earth material, but to try to do it in a more contemporary way,” said Sheldon. Inspired by a project in London that combined different colors of terra cotta to blend it into its surroundings, BNIM began working with architectural terra cotta manufacturer NBK to design a rain screen for Bloch Hall. But budget and time constraints soon intervened. To cut costs and enclose the building as quickly as possible, BNIM approached Enterprise Precast Concrete about the possibility of casting the terra cotta components directly into insulated concrete panels. “There was a lot of back and forth between Enterprise Precast Concrete and NBK,” said Sheldon. “This was one of the very early projects to use this technique.” To further streamline construction, BNIM and Moore Ruble Yudell decided to integrate the concrete into the interior aesthetic, so that the inside face of the panels required no additional finishing beyond sandblasting. General contractors JE Dunn Construction “loved that if we could pull this off, the insulation’s in place and the inside’s finished,” said Sheldon. “They bring it out, put it on the building, and that’s it.” For glazing, the design-build team ordered a YCW 750 XT high performance curtain wall from YKK, sized to slot into the opening between the building’s masonry components. Together, the insulated concrete-terra cotta panels and high performance glass helped put the building on track to earn LEED Gold certification.
  • Facade Manufacturer Enterprise Precast Concrete
  • Architects BNIM, Moore Ruble Yudell
  • Facade Installer JE Dunn Construction
  • Location Kansas City, MO
  • Date of Completion 2013
  • System precast concrete with embedded terra cotta elements, high performance glass curtain wall
  • Products NBK architectural terra cotta, YCW 750 XT high performance curtain wall from YKK
The patterns in the terra cotta “weren’t accidental, but were studied and studied,” said Sheldon. The south end of the building is a deep red, like the adjacent Bloch School Building. To the north, the colors fade to a buff yellow, reflecting the lighter tones of the nearby student center. To perfect the patterning, the designers first looked at the range of colors available through NBK and chose the six most compatible with the surrounding buildings. They then unfolded the elevation of the building and plugged the different shades into their digital model. BNIM experimented with different combinations, printing each and pinning it to the wall before making adjustments. “I don’t know how many iterations they did,” said Sheldon. “It just went on and on.” The final scheme achieves the desired effect. In color and materials, it creates a dialogue with the older buildings around it. Yet the bold patterning simultaneously marks the facade as a 21st century creation. Upon receiving the $32 million gift from Henry W. Bloch that made building the new Bloch Hall possible, then-Dean Teng-Kee Tan observed that “the path of innovation is never a straight line.” The architects manifested the analogy in the building's architecture and landscaping, carving the interior into a series of curvilinear spaces, and connecting the building to its neighbors via a meandering path. But the statement applies equally to the design process itself, in which a tight budget and 14-month construction timeline encouraged an innovative combination of concrete, terra cotta, and high performance glass. A successful sublimation of limitations into opportunity, the story of Bloch Hall’s envelope is the story of entrepreneurship in microcosm.  
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2014 will be a big year for streetcars in Kansas City and Cincinnati

Although it hasn’t yet broken ground, Kansas City plans to revive a long-dormant streetcar network. Voters approved a ballot measure in 2012 to fund a 2-mile starter route from Union Station to the River Market, nearly 55 years after the city halted its original streetcar service in 1957. Now Kansas City residents are likely to vote again to help pay for streetcar construction, this time to approve taxes that would help fund a new streetcar taxing district. The measure goes to City Council on Jan. 23. kc_streetcar_03The district goes far beyond the terminals of the streetcar’s starter line. As the Kansas City Star reported, it would run from State Line to I-435 and from the Missouri River to 85th Street. In a November election, voters need to approve the district and a one-cent sales tax increase there, as well as special property taxes for properties generally within about a half-mile along the actual streetcar lines. To avoid double-taxing some residents, the taxing district would replace an existing downtown transportation district currently funding some of the starter line’s construction. Streetcar expenses could reach $400 million. Some of that could be scrounged from federal dollars and other sources, but supporters say local funding is the critical first step. In Cincinnati, too, boosters of a similar streetcar plan in that city celebrated news last month that work would resume on the project after City Council members narrowly voted to halt construction. Though the governor and members of city council had previously attempted to strip the partially completed project's funding, construction has since resumed. The project is on track to finish in 2016.