AIA Kansas City: The American Institute of Architects

AIA Kansas City Design Excellence Awards


Back by popular demand, The People’s Choice Award, when the PEOPLE get to choose their favorite new architecture in our community!

About the People’s Choice Award
The People’s Choice Award presented by AIA Kansas City provides the public the opportunity to vote for a favorite design project that has been submitted for our annual Design Excellence Awards competition. Design projects eligible for the 2014 People’s Choice Award must be in the Kansas City Metro area, must be a built project, and they cannot be a residential project. Votes are collected on the AIA Kansas City website and tallied by AIA Kansas City’s Design Awards committee. The winning design is determined by popular votes cast. You are permitted one vote per email address.

View the People’s Choice Award submissions below and cast your ballot for your favorite design! VOTE now through October 31. The People’s Choice Award winner will be announced November 14 at the Design Excellence Awards. This celebration is open to the public.

Join AIA Kansas City to celebrate the places and the people who inspire, shape, and build our community!

Click here for more Design Excellence Awards event and ticket information.

How to Vote

  • Click the project photo to view details about a project.
  • In the details view, you may go from project to project using the ‘PREV’ and ‘NEXT’ buttons.
  • In the list view, the highlighted photo indicates which project you last viewed.
  • To choose a project, click the ‘SELECT PROJECT’ button either in the details view, or below the project in the list.
  • Enter your name and email address and click ‘VOTE’ to submit your vote.
Independence, MO | Photo credit: ©Mike Sinclair
MyARTS East is an adaptive reuse of a neglected 1940s industrial Brownfield site that has been transformed into an after school arts program operated by the Prosecutor’s Office of Jackson County, Missouri’s COMBAT program. MyARTS is a haven for at-risk teens and provides a venue where they can explore their creative abilities and identify possibilities for a future in the arts. This barrel vaulted space was completely gutted and the exterior storefront newly built for a budget of only $55/sq ft—including all new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. The functional and efficient design integrates nodes of student activity, by creating “pods” for each apprenticeship discipline—photography, painting, graphic design, screen printing and ceramics—each demanding specialized and flexible work space. The building’s central downtown location opens up an opportunity for completed works to be displayed within the new storefront retail space, inviting the public to participate in supporting the future of this exciting program.
Bancroft Schools Redevelopment
Kansas City, MO | Photo credit: ©Mike Sinclair
Historic Manheim Park is in the middle of what was referred to as Kansas City’s “Killing ZIP Code.” The renovation of the Bancroft School provided an economic catalyst for this underserved neighborhood through the revitalization of infrastructure and housing, connection to a new transit corridor to spur economic development and job creation, and community education and support programs. The rehabilitation of the school engages the neighborhood with apartments and community spaces that reflect the scale of the community while working within a tight budget. Inside, windows were replaced using a carefully designed reproduction. The details were restored—brick, detailed plaster, chalk rails, wood doors, built-ins, and original wood floors provide added character. On the exterior, the team created a space between the historic school and new addition at the west that increases transparency and provides secure space for access to and from street parking and the nearby mass transit corridor. The project has transformed this area—from 2011-2012 there was a 27% reduction in crime reported.
Health House
Kansas City, MO | Photo credit: ©Mike Sinclair
Health House offers classes that combine exercise, education and nutrition in equal measure. The owner wanted a space that was an extension of Health House’s mission. We approached the tenant finish project with simplicity in mind. The facility has an open plan with durable cork flooring to accommodate the intense workout programs. Storage is divided into individual wall niches with baltic birch casework sized for specific workout equipment. The front desk is the main architectural element, a freestanding box with an interior warmed by pine siding and flush mounted Edison bulbs. Health House offers classes that combine exercise, education and nutrition in equal measure. The owner wanted a space that was an extension of Health House’s mission. We approached the tenant finish project with simplicity in mind. The facility has an open plan with durable cork flooring to accommodate the intense workout programs. Storage is divided into individual wall niches with baltic birch casework sized for specific workout equipment. The front desk is the main architectural element, a freestanding box with an interior warmed by pine siding and flush mounted Edison bulbs.
Academic Center
Kansas City, MO | Photo credit: ©Michael Robinson Photography LLC
The KCUMB Academic Center renovation is a transformation of the previously-underutilized Weaver Auditorium into two lecture halls, stacked on top of one another to accommodate 300+ students simultaneously. The state-of-the-art learning facility incorporates interactive learning capabilities, multi-focal learning accommodations, and architectural solutions that support team-based learning.
Arvest Bank – Downtown KC Branch
Kansas City, MO | Photo credit: ©Alistair Tutton Photography
Housed within an existing parking garage at 13th Street and Grand Boulevard in Kansas City, Arvest Bank’s new downtown branch transforms an underutilized corner and capitalizes on visibility in a high-traffic location near the bustling Power & Light District. The design was based on creating a series of portals using different materials and forms to create a significant presence for the bank. The blade wall extends approximately 30 feet and wraps the building, providing distinct portal that identify the bank itself within the greater context of the garage. The portals at the entry, drive through and the interior teller line all frame the spaces and define the customer experience. Glass walls in the conference room and lobby offer street-level connectivity between the inner functions of the bank and pedestrians passing by.
The Barney Building
Mission Woods, KS | Photo credit: ©Mike Sinclair
The client, a local real estate developer, purchased a 3-story 1968 commercial office building that was in a state of disrepair in the center of Kansas City. Attracted to the mid-century character of the building and its prime location in town, he wanted to re-use the existing structure and transform the space from Class C to Class A office space, incorporating sustainability practices to achieve LEED certification. The design team was charged with maintaining the mid-century character while completely renovating and modernizing the 32,000 square foot building. Substantial portions of load-bearing walls removed to provide daylight exposure and views. A fourth floor was added to the building, taking advantage of the building’s prime location for leasable office space and providing outdoor terraces as an amenity to the tenants. The character of the building was preserved, with portions clad with zinc and sustainably harvested woods to provide warmth and a richer palette of materials.
Kansas City, MO | Photo credit: ©Travis Bechtel Photography
Named after a native prairie grass, bluestem the restaurant opened in 2004. bluestem, a fine dining establishment, is located at the periphery of the Westport district in Kansas City. Encompassed in a 102 year old building, the husband and wife chef duo decided to fully renovate their space in 2014. The scope of the project included gutting both the restaurant and the bar in order to make way for a newly reconfigured open kitchen and pastry bar. Overall, both spaces were streamlined into a soft warm contemporary design that reveals portions of the existing structure while making subtle indirect gestures to the prairie and the agrarian nature of the Midwest. A gesture that is as much reflective of the region as it is the brand itself.
Cerner Continuous Campus
Kansas City, KS | Photo credit: ©Art Gray Photography
The new Continuous Campus signifies Cerner’s commitment to the future of healthcare management. The building is not only an expression of Cerner’s work, but a reflection of the values of a company pioneering the digital age of the medical industry. The campus consists of two eight-story office towers joined by a collaborative one-story base. Associates benefit from a cafeteria, fitness center, pharmacy and health clinic. Clients benefit from globally connected conference rooms and lounges for training. What makes this facility unique is the crisis event center, where clients can be assisted when systems are at risk during natural disasters. The base features native prairie limestone, while the interior wall surrounding the intimate courtyard is clad in wood reclaimed from the site. The office towers shelter the courtyard from surrounding sprawl. They are wrapped in a high performance rainscreen system; clad in a warm-brown, textured stainless steel, with a glass-to-wall ratio that varies with the solar orientation. While the window patterning is a nod to the sequencing patterns of DNA, the materiality also speaks to a Midwestern vernacular of metal-clad buildings. The office floors are open and wireless, facilitating collaboration and ushering in a new paradigm for the digital workplace.
Fairmount Family Medical Clinic
Independence, MO | Photo credit: ©Mike Sinclair
Providing acute family care as well as specialty services—including newborn and pediatric care, health and wellness education, and chronic disease management—this $2.5 million development represents the first substantial investment into this Independence, MO community for many years. The interior floor plan provides distinct separation of public and private uses, achieved through a plan diagram of interlocking fingers of circulation. Public corridors feature artwork accentuated by gallery-style lighting. Recent data supporting the impact daylight and views have on patient health is the driver behind the visionary, light-filled design. East and west elevations are dominated by a bold undulating roofline highlighted by clerestory windows—maximizing the penetration of daylight. This illumination, of even the most interior of exam rooms and nurse’s station, considers the well-being of those providing care as much as those receiving care.
Fox Hill Office
Overland Park, KS | Photo credit: ©Manginelli Productions
A two level, open office concept promotes collaboration throughout the low walled work space and includes a number gathering areas and break-out space. Derived from site context, the facility merges the surrounding solid brick buildings with the openness of the adjacent park and trail system, resulting in a collaborative work space based on design principals of connectivity, exposure, transparency, and reflection.
1515 Walnut
Kansas City, MO | Photo credit: ©Aaron Dougherty Photography
This 1946 International Style office building in downtown Kansas City sat empty for over a decade due to one simple problem; it had no parking. The developers, a husband and wife team who had never developed before, unlocked the potential of the building by creating indoor parking on the ground level. The resultant 11 indoor parking spaces allowed the building to be transformed into a mixed-use property, with 2 ground level retail shops (and parking), 6 market rate apartments on the second level, and the developer’s own home built on the roof. By recycling the building, using sustainable practices including providing for 60% of the building’s energy demand through the roof top solar array, the building makes a positive contribution revitalization of KC’s downtown core.
Julep Craft Cocktail Club
Kansas City, MO | Photo credit: ©Mike Sinclair
After the success of their traveling cocktail club, Hawthorne & Julep, a husband and wife duo were prepared to establish something more permanent. Located just off of a newly reinvigorated stretch of Kansas City’s historic Westport entertainment district, this elegant whiskey spot’s charming design details are causing as much buzz as the delicious hand-crafted cocktails they sling. Classic yet fresh, architectural elements are highlighted with dramatic lighting focused on a stunning walnut bar and organically formed hideaways—such as the VIP lounge. Herringbone pattern white oak flooring lays a warm yet refined groundwork for pops of color and delicate beaded draperies.
Grandview PPW Maintenance Facility
Grandview, MO | Photo credit: ©Aaron Dougherty Photography
To create the new consolidated Parks and Public Works Maintenance campus, an existing maintenance shop building was renovated and three new buildings were erected on site of the existing Public Works facility. Efficiency, economy and sustainability drove the design. Pre-engineered buildings, selected for their economy and ease of erection, were used as a starting point. Opening their roofs allowed generous clerestory windows to flood daylight into all work spaces, reducing the need for artificial lighting and improving the workplace environment. By maximizing joint-use spaces, the buildings’ footprints were reduced to their most efficient size. A galvanized steel and cypress screen shades the buildings along their south and west facades, reducing warm-season temperatures inside the unconditioned buildings and serving as a distinctive visual buffer between the industrial buildings on site and adjacent residential neighborhood. The Facility represents city’s goal of bringing beauty, functionality and sustainability to public architecture.
Country Club Bank Headquarters
Kansas City, MO | Photo credit: ©Alistair Tutton Photography
For Country Club Bank’s relocation to a new corporate headquarters on Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza, a complete remodel was done to an existing 3-story building purchased by the bank. The relocation has more than tripled the space of Country Club’s old Plaza headquarters. An additional 5,600 sq. ft. was captured by infilling a portion of the atrium, and the overall significant increase in square footage allowed country Club to unite the administrative and operation functions of its commercial banking and wealth divisions into one location. Unique spaces include an employee fitness center, break and dining room, and an outdoor patio for spring through fall months. Design wise, the goal was to combine modern lines and architectural elements with traditional materials. The overall design transformed the 1980s brick-heavy environment into a modern space with contemporary, clean lines accented by traditional features.
Webster Garage
Kansas City, MO | Photo credit: ©Aaron Dougherty Photography
This parking structure, located in the rich architectural and social context of the Crossroads Arts District of Kansas City was designed to enhance the user experience of a typically banal building type while also adding to the surrounding community by integrating retail, event and art display space through the inventive use of structure and materials. The masonry and dark bronze palette relate to the surrounding buildings in texture, color and scale, however the articulation and execution is unique to this application and responds to the buildings need for light, air and visual transparency. To further strengthen the garage’s ability to accommodate art and community space the precast structure was designed to create display space at the top level of the garage, activating the top deck during community events while being continually visible to surrounding buildings.
St. Stephen Lutheran Church
Liberty, MO | Photo credit: ©Aaron Dougherty Photography
Sitting atop a bluff overlooking a rapidly expanding suburban area, this quiet church sat for years in relative anonymity. With new leadership and growth in membership the church wished to develop a larger worship area, one which embodied the sacredness of their faith. Understanding their desire to engage the greater mission field of the outside world, the new worship space allows views to the community below, while creating a new exterior physical presence. A simple sloped form creates a dynamic silhouette framed by trees sitting atop the bluff. The addition of a glazed vertical marker, stone plane and an extension of the interior sacristy/chancel provide detail to the church’s form and express the elements of worship located within. Interior finishes are straightforward and direct, supporting a minimal budget and embracing the membership’s desire for a space that did not require the traditional trappings of religion to support its sacredness.
Kansas City Zoo – Helzberg Penguin Plaza
Kansas City, MO | Photo credit: ©Denny Medley
The Kansas City Zoo wanted their first major aquarium exhibit to foster interaction between guests and penguins in a way that was memorable, dynamic, personal and fun. With 75% of the Earth’s penguin species threatened by climate change and diminishing food supplies, the goal was to create a powerful visitor experience and inspire stewardship of our natural world. Central to this idea was pairing a compelling conservation message with a building that demonstrates environmental sustainability. At LEED® Gold, it is the first USGBC certified penguin exhibit. The exhibit interprets the World’s southern oceans and shoreline habitats with a 100,000 gal saltwater cold species pool and a 25,000 gal indoor/outdoor pool for temperate species penguins. Providing intimate and expansive views while mitigating saltwater corrosion and isolating noxious odors was a significant design challenge. Environmentally contained habitats stabilize life-support water and air temperatures and provide filtration to eliminate odors and airborne pathogens.
Kansas City, KS | Photo credit: ©Manginelli Productions
39Rainbow is a mixed-use urban infill development, located adjacent to a major hospital campus. The facilities serve the area's interests with two buildings comprised of a hotel, walk-up convenient store, restaurants, retail, patient care and rehabilitation space associated with the adjacent hospital. The buildings scale and Neo-traditional design compliments the surrounding buildings and emphasizes a mixed-use concept. All while providing an attractive, pedestrian friendly space integrating work, play, shopping, education, and healing aspects.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City
Kansas City, MO | Photo credit: ©Michael Robinson Photography LLC
Blue KC sought to transform its headquarters to meet the demands of the Affordable Care Act, in the short term, and support long-term operational goals. For the multi-phased project, the first floor and elevator lobby renovations serve as the foundation for design solutions that support the health and wellness initiatives valued by Blue KC.
Mission Family Aquatic Center
Mission, KS | Photo credit: ©Aaron Dougherty Photography
The project team was challenged with the replacement of an aged and deteriorating municipal pool facility. The site is an existing neighborhood park with mature trees and constrained by the City Hall, open park space, public thoroughfares, topographic challenges and a storm drainage channel. To meet an aggressive design and construction schedule, public input meetings allowed discourse and expedited consensus on many key design considerations which included renovating the existing bath house and providing a new pump house, pools/features, bleachers, and a new parking lot while maintaining existing trees. The renovation consisted of a wholly new interior layout organized around a breezeway entry. The glu-lam structure and roof deck was refreshed and skylights were salvaged, cleaned, and re-installed to provide ample natural lighting. The new pump house is a background structure; an exercise in masonry textures with slotted vertical openings to allow visitors to see the pool equipment within.
Capitol Federal, Midtown Branch
Kansas City, MO | Photo credit: ©Aaron Dougherty
CapFed’s branch expansion into the heart of Kansas City, at 43rd and Main Street, was intended to bridge the Plaza, Midtown and Crossroads districts, while providing full-service banking to the diverse community. Situated along KC’s Main Street Corridor, the bank fits into the existing urban fabric and historic character of the area. The new building fronts the Main Street sidewalk, while vehicular circulation is shifted behind the building. Located in Main Street’s Art District, CapFed engaged Kansas City Art Institute to create a sponsored studio program, which established an on-going relationship between the bank and the students, and provides rotating artwork throughout the facility. Brick and copper exterior materials relate to existing neighborhood context. Inside, a flexible and open layout is designed to meet evolving retail banking needs. An all-glass storefront along Main Street brings the urbanity into the bank, while also showcasing CapFed to the community.
Live Blue Prairie Village
Prairie Village, KS | Photo credit: ©Michael Robinson Photography LLC
Live Blue Prairie Village is designed to bring healthy living initiatives into a one-of-a-kind retail store experience. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) sought to separate itself from the perceptions of health insurance companies and demystify health insurance by “selling clarity.” The space accommodates fitness, nutrition, and insurance-driven classes in a comfortable environment, rivaling one’s living room. The branded environment quickly and distinctly communicates the Blue KC brand, communicates the Blue KC mission, and accommodates maximum flexibility to functions happening within.
Monarch Plaza – A Vacant Land Initiative
Kansas City, MO | Photo credit: ©Timothy Sandweg
Monarch Plaza germinated from an urban design initiative to address vacant land in Kansas City’s urban core. Working with KCMO Neighborhood & Housing Services, our firm focused on a development strategy for the vacant land on the now-demolished Municipal stadium site. We believed that by highlighting its historic identity, its inherent value could be realized by the surrounding community. Portions of the site have a collection of recently-built homes, informally coined “Monarch Manor.” We proposed creating six neighborhood entry signs for “Monarch Manor” and a commemorative plaza to honor the stadium’s tremendous athletic history. Inspired by the metalwork often seen at baseball stadium entrances, layered metal mesh signage was designed at neighborhood and plaza entries. Overlaid on the footprint of the stadium’s ticket booth, the plaza’s benches and planters align with the rows of turnstiles allowing visitors to retrace the footsteps of the millions who once entered the stadium.

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