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

October 16, 2019

Imagine What the World has Yet to See

 Imagine what the world has yet to see. from KCAI Communications on Vimeo. As Kansas City Art Institute navigates its way through the excitement of new academic programs, curricular changes and campus additions, all to invest in the education and experience of some of the most gifted students in the country, we are pleased to showcase the college’s new visual identity. Rooted in foundational elements of art and design, sound philosophies and an earnest interest in reflecting back to the community the truth of who we are, the new KCAI brand will usher us through a new era of educating fearless creative leaders. With the input and advice of faculty, staff, alumni, board members, and students KCAI has launched a new brand that reflects the expressive, collaborative and rooted nature of the college. Local creative agency DMH was chosen for this important work because of its strong KCAI ties and history of hiring KCAI alumni and student interns. Brand Essence Imagine What the World Has Yet to See…the essence of the brand, gets to the core of who we are – what our students are doing in their studios every day. Like our students, it’s the heart and soul read more…

September 11, 2019

Jill Downen’s Open Spaces Work Donated to the City

Associate Professor and Chair of Sculpture Jill Downen’s (’89 Painting) Open Spaces artwork has been gifted to the people of Kansas City by the R.C. Kemper Charitable Trust. An Architectural Folly from a Future Place, aconcrete and stone low wall with a fissure, is designed to be a social space —a bench for visitors to sit on and enjoy the serene green space of Swope Park. Jill’s work is one of three Open Spaces artworks donated to the city and two are connected to KCAI. Any Word But Wait by Flavio Cerqueira was sculpted at KCAI Crossroads Gallery last year when he was an artist-in-residence. Flavio’s work is located on the UMKC Volker campus. Join us in congratulating Jill for this amazing accomplishment and read the complete press release from the city here.