Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in KC Creates New Cultural Vibe

By | July 3, 2012

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Kansa...

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Kansas City (Photo credit: Missouri Division of Tourism)

Kansas City, Missouri houses the new and innovative Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. However, the center resembles more of a terrarium. Designed by Moshe Safdie, the whole southern façade is made of up 48,000 square feet of glass which is poised with steel cables and columns. This leaves the white balconies of the four-story lobby exposed to public view.

The Center sits atop a hill amid a half-block of landscaped, public space and overlooks the downtown Crossroads Arts District full of the city’s studios and galleries. From the north side of the building, unequal, sectioned silver domes covered in bead-blasted stainless steel resemble Art Deco airplane hangars.

Technology is very much a part of this architectural creation. The smaller of the halls, Helzberg hall, was created in an oval shape with all 1,600 seats within 100 feet of the stage. In the Muriel Kauffman Theatre, the 5,000 square foot stage is surrounded by 1,800 seats equipped with low-light screens for each attendee’s translation of opera lyrics.

Aural spaces within the Center were designed by Yasunhisa Toyota from Nagata Acoustics. Three dimensional computer models and digital maps were created to prove how sound would move within the spaces, allowing unwanted echoes to be eliminated. Sound quality within the room is adjustable due to the acoustic panels which “float” above the Helzberg stage, enabling technicians to attain the best fit for each performer. Additionally, plumbing has been muffled. Cooling and heating duct work has been hung using spring isolators so that vibrations coming from fans and airflow are eliminated.

Debatably the best in the nation, a new pipe organ is housed in the Center. The organ has 5,548 pipes, 102 ranks and 79 stops. What better place to hear its melodies than one of the greatest aural and visually stunning buildings on Earth?

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