The new Kauffman Center for Performing Arts designed by Moshe Safdie & Associates, with BNIM Associates, Associate Architects, aims to reaffirm the role of the arts in public life, and to give Kansas City, Mo., a pair of world-class performance venues.
Safdie Architects was hired 12 years ago by Julia Irene Kauffman, a prominent Kansas City philanthropist whose mother first proposed the idea, and provided the initial funding. From the beginning, Safdie was enthusiastic about the site: 13 acres crowning a slope that extends south into the city’s Crossroads Arts District.
It was the prominence and visibility of the site that allowed him to conceive the project as an exercise in “urban extroversion,” a move to connect the performing arts to the city, and the city to the celebrating public.
Safdie oriented the building to the south to take advantage of expansive views over the city. The arched forms on the northern façade ascend from the ground to the highest point of the structure, then meet a descending slope clad in stainless steel. Near the bottom of the slope, the steel turns to glass, and the roof form connects with a glass curtain wall suspended at an angle through a system of steel cables.