Google’s grand experiment on the Great Plains, dubbed “Silicon Prairie” by some, is to revitalize Kansas City with superfast internet. That network hookup could make KC a hotspot for new businesses, too, according to some entrepreneurs eyeing the new “fiberhoods” where the infrastructure exists.
Kansas City may not have aspirations to be the next Silicon Valley, but Google’s investment has invigorated the city’s startup culture. On top of efforts to clean up the region’s vacant land and the highly-anticipated return of KC’s streetcar, startups are just one reason that Kansas City will be a city to watch.
Kansas City, recently outfitted with superfast internet courtesy of Google, is on the move. And KC taxpayers voted to keep up the momentum this week, authorizing a special taxing district to help fund a downtown streetcar.
A transportation development district would cultivate the 2-mile, $101 million route from Union Station to the River Market. The line was shortened by 300 feet after a scramble to make up for $25 million in TIGER grants that the city applied for and was not awarded. Funding for the modified plan came from the Mid-America Regional Council.
Now efforts turn to finding an operator. Kansas City will work with the Port Authority to create a Streetcar Authority—a step which has become a hang-up for similar efforts in Detroit. But Wednesday’s vote is a clear signal of public and political support for expanded public transit in the city.
KC is also lining up funding for a second phase of streetcar lines, totaling 22 miles of track crisscrossing the city.
The Future of Yesterday: Photographs of Architectural Remains at World’s Fairs
45th and Oak Streets, Kansas City, MO
Through September 9
In conjunction with Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs 1851–1939, the Nelson-Atkins Museum presents the first solo American exhibition of Belgian artist Ives Maes. In contrast to the technological and stylistic innovation showcased in the companion exhibition, Maes provides a study of the lasting artifacts of the world’s fair utopian aspirations. The photographs uncover fair grounds as they stand today, sometimes repurposed but often abandoned or in ruins (such as the site of London’s Crystal Palace, above), juxtaposing the optimism of the architects’ vision with the reality of the present. Co-curator Catherine L. Futter explains, “Ives’ visually compelling images and sculptural presentation lead us to examine the condition, context and activities of the sites in the present, yet evoke the magnificent and progressive ideals of these global events.”
A giant Tetris block has landed in Powell Gardens, a large botanical garden an hour drive outside of Kansas City, Missouri. MIRRORRORRIM, designed and built by Kansas City-based firm 360 Architecture, is a modular stacking of bright, lime green, cedar cubes, forming a T-shape on the ground with a vertical tower rising above the crossing point. The wooden structure is layered over on some sides with perforated stainless steel panels.
The Sun Pavilion, winner of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art’s design competition in conjunction with their Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World Fairs, 1851-1939, is now open. Completed in 81 days, the pavilion is an expression of the innovation that reflects the ideals of World’s Fairs. Read More
The Nelson Atkins Museum has just announced that Generator Studio has won the competition to design a temporary pavilion on its grounds. The pavilion will be part of an upcoming exhibition Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs 1851-1939, which opens on April 14. Kansas City-based Generator Studio’s submission, Sun Pavilion, was developed with L.A. artist Tm Gratkowski, Brightenergy, Prosser Wilbert Construction, and Thorton Tomasetti. Powered by solar panels, the opened sided pavilion will allow exhibition programming to spill outside the walls of the museum. Read More
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Custom canopy scores big at Kansas City’s new soccer stadium.
Kansas City’s Livestrong Sporting Park opened in June as the city’s first soccer-centric stadium and the new home of the Sporting Kansas City, the soccer team formerly known as the Kansas City Wizards. To make the arena both athlete- and fan-friendly, architect Populous envisioned a soaring roof canopy designed to evoke the arc of a soccer ball flying across the field. The team considered building the canopy with ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) pillows, but desired a look more in line with glass panels. The weight of glass would have significantly increased the amount of steel substructure, in turn raising the canopy’s price. Working with Michigan-based architectural canopy design, engineering, and fabrication company Duo-Gard, the team began instead to develop a high-performance polycarbonate glazing system that minimized weight and maximized light transmission onto the field.
Last month rumblings started going around the leafy Armour Hills neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri. “Those hippies are up to something,” exclaimed one the area’s more conservative residents.
Local artist Pete Cowdin, who goes by the pseudonym A. Bitterman, has created a unique outdoor experience in his front and back yards. Entitled Point of Interest, the installation takes the property of the single-family home, and transforms it into a “national park.” The installation is an interesting critique of how society views nature as somewhere outside of the built environment. “We confuse Nature for the natural world, and this has generated a kind of madness,” Cowdin said.