The Kansas City Art Institute broke ground on new student housing Thursday across the street from the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.
"The last time we did this was 1968 when we built that," said Art Institute president Tony Jones, pointing to the current residence hall. "To say that it's a little bit out of date ... would be an understatement."
The old dorm will be repurposed for academic space, said Jones, and a "brand new living center" will be created to better fit the needs of contemporary students in art, design, craft, and technology.
"Not just as a place for students to be able to rest after the labors of the day, but also they're going to be able to dine. And they're going to be working in new studios," he said. "This is an initiative that we call sewing — sleep, eat, work."
The new building, designed by Kansas City-based Helix Architecture + Design, will house about 250 students. Plans call for a student gallery, a gaming center — and a dining center and café that will be open to the public.
"We want the neighborhood to be proud of what we've done here and we want the neighborhood to come," said Jones.
The residence hall and dining center are slated for completion in late 2019 or early 2020. Art Institute officials estimate construction costs at more than $25 million.
Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter at @lauraspencer.