April 11, 2019
KCAI Breaks Ground on Liberal Arts Building
The Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) will break ground on Friday, April 26 at 9 a.m. on a new 18,000 square foot building that will house the Liberal Arts program including Art History and Creative Writing, as well as all of student services. The opportunity to build the Hall, located on the northeast corner of 44th and Oak, is largely thanks to the generosity of donors who have given to the Space to Create capital campaign.
The Hall is designed by Hufft, a Kansas City-based architecture, interior design and custom fabrication firm. Hufft has a strong reputation as a firm that creates meaningful spaces and objects inspired by people and places while integrating designers and builders into one holistic process. With a project list ranging from student unions to corporate offices to residential homes, their distinctive approach of creating a building that complements both the physical site and the surrounding neighborhood made them the perfect choice to design KCAI’s new Hall. Award-winning landscape architects Hoerr Schaudt will design the expansive outdoor spaces and Kansas City construction company McCownGordon will build the facility
According to Tony Jones, the Nerman Family President of KCAI, the college worked closely with the surrounding neighborhood associations and the tone of the Hall is less institutional and more residential. “We wanted it to be very beautiful and appropriate for the neighborhood. From the very beginning we have pictured this as classrooms in a garden, a building that is a pleasure to work in and walk past,” said Jones.
This new Hall will redefine the KCAI student experience. Since all majors are required to take art history and liberal arts courses, every student will benefit from the spacious, light-filled classrooms with state-of-the-art technology for learning and a courtyard garden for socializing. Additionally, it will be the first time all of student services, including academic advising and financial aid, will be officed in the same building to streamline student operations and support.
A unique architectural feature of the Hall will be the entry portal on Oak Street. Visitors will enter through a portal adorned with panels, each engraved with the name of influential art historians of the past and present. The entrance will become a tribute to the individuals who have interpreted and written about art and artists for future generations. “Many museums and art centers celebrate artists by having their names of the facade – but no one has honored art historians – the scholars who interpret, explain and tell us the stories of those
artists. I think they deserve thanks and recognition” said Jones.
Matthew Hufft, founding principal of Hufft, said, “It is a true honor to be working with the entire KCAI team on this project. With four KCAI alumni currently on our Hufft team, we see firsthand the exceptional education KCAI provides its students. We believe this building will add to the student experience, as well as contribute to the already amazing aesthetic of the surrounding neighborhood.”
The Hall will also be the home to KCAI’s new minor in Entrepreneurial Studies in Art and Design, which will prepare artists and designers to have an entrepreneurial spirit, business acumen and the leadership skills to engage in innovative artistic ventures. A partnership with The Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, a program of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City provides KCAI students with unrivaled access to entrepreneurial courses taught by experts in the field.
Construction on the new Hall is scheduled to begin in late spring. To see renderings of the building please click here
KCAI utterly condemns the ongoing racist treatment of Black Americans that has resulted in the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and in the continued murders, harassment, and prejudice that our Black community members face on a daily basis.
Two beloved faculty members, with over 76 years of combined service to KCAI, are retiring at the end of the 2020 academic year. They’ve inspired generations of students with their relentless passion for teaching and leave an immeasurable impact on the college. Thank you Steve Whitacre and Karen McCoy for your years of service, dedication to our students, and active engagement on campus. Congratulations on your retirement. You will be missed. Fellow faculty share tributes to their accomplishments. Steve Whitacre Professor and Sosland Family Chair of Foundation Joined KCAI in 1969 For over half a century, Steve Whitacre’s remarkable and distinguished career and long-standing leadership of the Foundation program at KCAI has earned national and international recognition. Before coming to KCAI in 1969, Steve studied at the Columbus College of Art and Design and earned both a BFA and MFA from Ohio University. According to the artist and educator, his studio practice continues to explore the estuary between art and architecture in relationship to sculpture and personal, poetic language. Steve’s works are held in many private collections and have been widely exhibited in this country, England, Scotland, and Italy. He has taught and led projects at the Cranbrook Academy of Art read more…
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