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In Their Annual Contest, Kansas City Architects Have Designs On The World


After showing off their best work, Kansas City architects learned on Nov. 14 how they ranked against their local peers at the 2014 Design Excellence Awards program put on by the American Institute of Architects Kansas City.

Teams of architects from Los Angeles and New Orleans judged entries in two categories: overall design excellence and sports venue design. They bestowed the equivalent of first-, second- and third-place awards; top winners were the Honor Awards, given to projects that are “exemplary in detail, context and execution.”

Non-architects got to vote in the People’s Choice category – an opportunity, the AIA said, for the general public to “celebrate the places and the people who inspired, shape, and build our community.” Over a four-week period, 875 people voted on 23 eligible projects.

Below are the Honor Award winners and what their designers said about them. All of the entries – 65 examples of how Kansas City architects are making their marks as close as downtown and as far away as Qatar – are included in the program here.

Honor – Design Excellence Award:
BNIM for the Des Moines Community Playhouse

BNIM project description: "The Des Moines Community Playhouse has been a beloved pillar in the community since 1919, growing into the second largest community theater in the U.S. with more than 55,000 annual attendees. With this success, the Playhouse sought to renovate and expand its historic structure to accommodate education program growth and attendance with a two-phase design.

The first phase creates a new transparent glass lobby, which allows passersby to view activities inside and glows at night as an active component of the street life. It is a hub of interaction bringing the culture of the theater closer to the community: a gathering area for performances; a venue for smaller events, a place for communication about future events and a flexible classroom. While the delicate glass lobby is modern, the team honored the 1934 structure by keeping much of the original stonework, knitting the history of the community with its bright future."

Honor – Sports Venue Award:
AECOM, for the Matthew Knight Arena at the University of Oregon

Credit Hedrich Blessing Photographers and Eric Maxwell Photography / AECOM in association with TVA Architects and Perkins+Will
AECOM in association with TVA Architects and Perkins+Will
University of Oregon, Matthew Knight Arena

AECOM project description: "Matthew Knight Arena at the University of Oregon was designed around the simple concept of 'a theater for basketball' while being reflective of its Oregon context and University’s past, present and future. The maximization of glass on the arena’s exterior provides a transparency creating views to experience the game day event energy within the building. The utilization of local materials in the interior, such as the white oak on the main concourse shroud wall, celebrate the timber history of Oregon, while being a defining interior element with precise detailing and articulation. The Arena replaced its historical predecessor McArthur Court and serves as new gateway to the University and the City of Eugene."

People's Choice Award Project:
Capitol Federal, Midtown Branch
Architect: Gastinger Walker Harden + BeeTriplett Buck

To be considered for People’s Choice voting, entries must have been entered into the 2014 AIA Kansas City Design Excellence Awards, located in the Kansas City Metro area, be a built project, and could not be a single family or multi-family residential project.

Credit Aaron Dougherty / Gastinger Walker Harden + BeeTriplett Buck
Gastinger Walker Harden + BeeTriplett Buck
Capitol Federal, Midtown Branch

CapFed project description: "CapFed's branch expansion into the heart of Kansas City, at 43rd and Main Street, was intended to bridge the Plaza, Midtown and Crossroads districts, while providing full-service banking to the diverse community. Situated along KC's Main Street Corridor, the bank fits into the existing urban fabric and historic character of the area.  The new building fronts the Main Street sidewalk, while vehicular circulation is shifted behind the building.  Located in Main Street's Art District, CapFed engaged Kansas City Art Institute to create a sponsored studio program, which established an on-going relationship between the bank and the students, and provides rotating artwork throughout the facility. Brick and copper exterior materials relate to existing neighborhood context. Inside, a flexible and open layout is designed to meet evolving retail banking needs. An all-glass storefront along Main Street brings the urbanity into the bank, while also showcasing CapFed to the community."

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