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Architecture Monday

September 3, 2018

Coal, generators, and ballet.  A juxtaposition, and one that works great in this adaptive reuse project that saw an abandoned (for 50 years!) power plant reworked into a new center for dance in downtown Kansas City.

The best adaptive projects find ways to incorporate and celebrate the original, and for me, rugged industrial spaces like this offer the most potential for doing just that.  There’s no hiding or plastering over here, with the lofty and steel-laden character of the power plant not only kept but enhanced with new skylights and additions carefully woven to maintain the cathedral-like atmosphere.

Out of this, lots of very cool elements and spaces emerge!  The main dance studio, occupying a former engine room, shoots three stories upward and is bathed in light.  Old coal chutes are dolled up to become both visual interest as well new pendant light fixtures.  Coal bunkers become dressing rooms.

But the piece de resistance must be the old chimney.  Forming a centerpiece to the studio floor, the already-shortened stack gets capped in glass to become a glorious skylight.  Even better, it still functions as a chimney of sorts, only now for air rather than smoke, providing natural stack ventilation that helps keep the place cool.

What a great job and a mighty fine new home for the KC ballet.  The Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity by BNIM.

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