Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

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Partly atop parking facilities for Moshe Safdie’s iconic performance hall, this terraced landscape of meadows, lawns, gardens, and trees galvanizes a new cultural district for Kansas City, Missouri, and connects downtown to an emerging arts district.

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts transforms an underdeveloped gap in the urban fabric of Kansas City into a vibrant cultural center and downtown park. The project accommodates, across 60 feet of grade change, the sculptural volumes of two new performance venues and a 1,000-car underground parking structure. Arcing terraces extend Safdie’s gesture but always meet the street at grade, ensuring fully accessible routes throughout the park. Around the Performing Arts Center, expansive swaths of switchgrass meadow help ground the massive building volumes. Long walls and concentric rows of pin oaks extend the geometry of the building’s central atrium and link it to the larger patterns of the neighborhood block structure. We inverted the program for the southern half of the block—promoting the idea that it should be seen as a park with a tiered, subterranean garage.

On the level of everyday experience, the project’s spatial and material richness provides much needed leisure, recreation, and convening social space—a catalyst to promote increased residential and cultural development projects in the area. This project is one in a series of recent cultural endeavors in Kansas City dedicated to design excellence, and progressive fiscal and environmental practices.


Kansas City, MO




9 acres




  • “It Wows the Crowds,” by Robery Trussell, The Kansas City Star , September 19, 2011