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

June 4, 2019

Art & Design Auction Raises More Than $550,000 for Student Scholarships

Over 625 art lovers gathered on the Rowland Commons and in the David T. Beals III Studios for Art & Technology on June 1 for the social event of the summer, the festive Art & Design Auction (ADA), which raised more than $550,000 for student scholarships. The balmy evening, inspired food and drink, amazing art, and dedication of Co-Chairs Ellen and Jamie Copaken and Honorary Chair George Terbovich added up to a perfect evening to support arts education. This year, ADA celebrated the undeniable impact that KCAI has on the creative economy of Kansas City. Our graduates, faculty and friends are artists, architects, designers, chefs, curators, fashion designers and small business owners. They make KC a more vibrant and innovative place to live. Guests were greeted at the campus gates with a Prosecco cart and they enjoyed creative appetizers and the haunting harp music of Calvin Arsenia while browsing the silent auction of 250 pieces of donated original art. An amazing display of 15 metal wall sculptures, designed by our students and fabricated at A. Zahner, was popular with bidders and a Buy-It-Now Gallery allowed guests to purchase handcrafted art and goods, no bidding required. After a KC-themed dinner and read more…

May 20, 2019

KCAI Commemorates Student Residence Hall Topping Out

The Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) recently celebrated a construction milestone, the topping out of a new 244-bed student residence hall, Wylie Dining Center and Café Nerman. To commemorate the occasion, a fir tree, traditionally known as the ‘construction tree’, was placed on the literal apogee of the building, the highest point. “The final stages of construction on this project are about to begin. We are imminently closer to finishing the buildings where students will have a safe, comfortable home and the community can commune in our common spaces, dine in the new Wylie Dining Center and have a cup of coffee in Café Nerman,” said Tony Jones, Nerman Family President. Construction on the new facilities, located along Warwick Boulevard south of the campus gates, began last summer and students are slated to move in January 2020. Designed by Helix Architecture + Design with the contemporary art student in mind, the residence hall features double-occupancy semi-suites with private baths and cozy study spaces and celebrates the unique individuality of each student while creating a sense of community. Kansas City-based JE Dunn Construction is the general contractor for the project. See renderings of the project here.