TS12 – KC Arts and Architecture Tour
June 20, 2023 @ 9:45 am - 5:15 pm$105
If you’re an architecture fan or a history buff or love the extravagant,or all three,then this is the tour for you. This is a culture and information-rich tour of two of Kansas City’s most celebrated landmarks, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and Kansas City’s Union Station.
Built in 2011, the mega-modern Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, or “the Kauffman Center” as Kansas Citians call it, was designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie. It is built on a hilltop with an expansive glass wall overlooking the city. Honored as one of the world’s 15 most beautiful concert halls, this rarely-offered tour is a behind-the-scenes look at the Kauffman Center’s history, performance venues, Casavant Freres pipe organ (one of the finest concert organs in the world), and the unique engineering and construction techniques required to bring about Moshe Safdie’s design.
The tour delves even deeper into the engineering and construction techniques behind the Kauffman Center with a visit to Zahner Manufacturing, the architectural metalwork company that provided many of the metalwork features you see at the Kauffman Center.
In contrast to the modern architecture and engineering of the Kauffman Center, to enter the doors of Kansas City’s Union Station is to pass through the gates of time, both in history and architecture. Built in 1914, Union Station was the third largest train station in the world at the time. Designed by noted Chicago architect Jarvis Hunt, the architecture is in the grand, larger-than-life Beaux-Arts style, which was popular in the United States and France in the late 1800s and early 1900s. From the soaring ornate ceilings in the Grand Hall and 3,500-pound chandeliers to the massive clock hanging in the central arch and the rose-brown marble floors, this is one historic site you shouldn’t miss. No wonder it is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Have your camera at the ready. Both buildings are a photographer’s delight.
Departure Time: 9:45 a.m., Tuesday, June 20
Max Participants: 50
Water on the bus
The Kauffman Center and Union Station are fully handicapped accessible. Zahner Manufacturing occasionally has debris on its floors, but it is a single-story building.
18Broadway (Downtown Community Garden and Ecosystem)
Board the bus for the 30-minute ride downtown to the Kauffman Center. Before touring the Kauffman Center, however, there’s something special across the street on 18th and Broadway that you don’t want to miss. It’s called, befittingly, 18Broadway.
18Broadway was born in 2008 when DST, a worldwide company headquartered in Kansas City, decided to do something special for the community after their construction project was shelved at the site. What was once a vacant block near downtown is now a thriving urban garden and successful experiment in conservation and self-sustainability.
- See the raised beds and container gardens for growing food, allowing for better drainage, less soil compaction and increased productivity. Volunteers from nearby Kansas City organizations and businesses maintain the beds and containers and donate all the food to Harvesters, a community food bank.
- Learn about the self-sustaining electricity that comes from a windmill and solar panels.
- See the openings in the curbs and sidewalks that allow storm water runoff from nearby streets to flow from the street into the adjoining boggy swale and rain gardens.
- See the swale and rain gardens in action with their native plants and long grasses to filter the water as it flows down and remove contaminants in the water. The clean, filtered water is then stored in a 40,000-gallon underground cistern and pumped back out to water the plants.
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
Before crossing the street from 18Broadway to the Kauffman Center, take in the view of its soaring arches that house the two performance halls and the dramatic expanse of glass (the grand foyer) that wraps the entire front of the building and overlooks the city. Honored as one of the world’s 15 most beautiful concert halls, this rarely-offered tour is a behind-the-scenes look at the 14-story Kauffman Center built in 2011.
Once inside, experience the grand foyer from the inside looking out. People say it takes their breath away. The glass wall connects the two performance halls and offers sweeping views outward over the city. Like a living room for the entire city, the grand foyer is a place of excitement and gathering and a glowing beacon throughout the city during performance events.
After a tasty lunch, follow your tour guides as they take you through the Kauffman Center.
- See the 1,800-seat Muriel Kauffman Theatre, home of the Kansas City Ballet and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City.
- See the 1,600-seat Helzberg Hall, home of the Kansas City Symphony.
- Be bowled over by the custom-built Casavant Freres pipe organ, one of the finest concert organs in the world. It has four keyboards and 5,548 pipes. Built in Quebec, it was disassembled into 20,000 pieces for transport, then painstakingly reassembled over two months, with an additional two months for testing the “voice” of the organ.
Get an insider’s look at the engineering and construction techniques as you learn about:
- The superlative acoustics that ensure every seat hears the sound the same.
- The history and challenges of the building design and how the acoustical and aesthetic considerations were factored into every architectural decision, from the shape of the hall to the grain of the wood paneling.
- How this architectural icon began as a sketch on a napkin by renowned architect Moshe Safdie.
- Why the building project was a labor of love for philanthropist Julia Irene Kauffman.
Kansas City’s Union Station
All aboard! The next stop is Kansas City’s Union Station, an architectural gem and iconic symbol of Kansas City. You’ll often see it flashed on the screen during Chiefs games before the broadcast cuts to commercial.
To enter the doors of Union Station is to pass through the gates of time. To hear the history of Union Station is to hear the history of America. When it was built in 1914, Union Station was the third largest train station in the world with links to all parts of the nation. Designed by noted architect Jarvis Hunt in the grand Beaux-Arts style, it reflected the city’s status as a major Midwestern metropolis and a significant passenger and freight rail hub for the nation.
- Take in the larger-than-life vastness of the station . . . its Grand Hall, three 3,500-pound chandeliers, ornate ceiling work, massive clock hanging in the central arch, and the rose-brown marble floors. Notice the arched windows that flood the station with natural light. Look down the huge perpendicular hall that was the passenger waiting room and imagine hundreds of passengers milling around and waiting for their trains.
- Be fascinated by the station’s history. In its prime, Union Station accommodated tens of thousands of passengers every year. Over 200 trains passed through the station daily. At its peak at the end of World War II, passenger traffic reached a staggering 678,000 travelers annually as soldiers streamed through the station after World War II to make their way home.
- Stand under the station’s massive clock like hundreds of people have done before you for decades. “Meet me under the clock” has reunited loved ones, families and lovers as long as Union Station has been open. Dozens of couples have become engaged and married under the clock.
So many stories of farewells, reunions and of day-to-day vibrancy still echo in her walls. Just listen.
Perhaps one of the most amazing things about Union Station is that it’s still here. It almost wasn’t. When rail travel waned in the 1950s and onward, Union Station began to deteriorate. Closed in the 1980s, our station sat empty and neglected, narrowly escaping demolition on several occasions. Then, in 1996, a historic Missouri-Kansas bi-state tax was passed to fund the station’s $250 million renovation and restore it to its original grandeur while making it a modern facility. In 1999, Union Station reopened its doors again and the entire city celebrated. And still does!
Today, Union Station wakes up early and stays up late to host visitors, shoppers, restaurant goers and events of all kinds for the community. And! Just as you could over 100 years ago, you can still catch the train at the Amtrak stop in Union Station and head out across the country.
As you depart Union Station, the drive to Zahner Manufacturing swings by the historic World War I Museum and Memorial and Crown Center, headquarters of Hallmark Cards.
The last stop is about nuts and bolts, literally. The tour of Zahner is a continuation of the behind-the-scenes look at the Kauffman Center. They provided many of the metalwork features you saw at the Kauffman Center including the stainless steel and substructure that wraps the entire facade and roof.
- Learn about the role of industrial art in modern sculpture, engineering and architecture.
- Tour Zahner where architects and artists go to get their design ideas put into reality.
- See the computer-driven machines that turn out architectural marvels.
A locally-owned family business, Zahner is an expert at producing highly-crafted architectural metalwork imagined by artists, sculptors, architects and engineers around the globe. They specialize in converting a functional structure into a thing of beauty
After a visual and information-rich day, it’s time to board the bus for the 30-minute ride back to the Convention Center. We should arrive around 5 p.m.