Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts by Safdie Architects

Architect: Safdie Architects

A new center for music, opera, theater, and dance in downtown Kansas City, the $326 million Kauffman Center will advance the role of the arts as a catalyst for the social, educational, and economic vitality of the city and the region. When it opens, the Center will be one of the most technically and architecturally advanced performing arts centers in the nation, allowing its presenters and resident companies to stage more sophisticated work, encourage interdisciplinary collaboration, and foster the cross-fertilization of audiences.

The 285,000-square-foot facility will include two distinct halls—Muriel Kauffman Theatre and Helzberg Hall—each existing in their own acoustic envelope. An articulated shell distinguishes each venue, and a glass enclosure defines the Center’s shared public spaces, a series of interior piazzas that provide sweeping views of Kansas City. The venues will share backstage facilities, including dressing accommodations for over 250 performers, as well as 11 rehearsal and warm-up rooms. The Kauffman Center’s new, 5-acre park will be used for outdoor performances and as a public gathering space. The Center has been designed so it can accommodate future expansion along the east side of the building.

The north elevation of the building, which faces downtown Kansas City, features a series of arched walls sheathed in stainless steel that rise from the ground like a wave. From their crest a curved glass roof sweeps down towards the low-rise Crossroads neighborhood to the south and cascades into a 65-foot high by 330-foot wide glass wall, which provides the Kauffman Center’s Brandmeyer Great Hall with panoramic views of Kansas City. Anchored by 27 hightension steel cables, this dramatic glass façade and roof are reminiscent of a stringed instrument.

“The Kauffman Center will be a beacon for Kansas City—a transparent and welcoming place that radiates warmth and invites the community to come together. And as a hub for Kansas City’s performing arts, the Center will play a vital role in the social fabric of the region, linking both people and neighborhoods,” said Moshe Safdie.“This sense of connectivity continues in the halls themselves, which have been designed to create unparalleled intimate experiences for both artists and audiences.”

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