Kansas City, Missouri

Since the curtain rose on the art form in the 17th century, classical ballet has required its practitioners to leap, lift, and chass' onstage while making it all appear as effortless as a two-step. A 1914-era former coal power plant for the nearby Union Station train depot, then, isn't as unlikely a home for Missouri's Kansas City Ballet (KCB) as it may seem at first. It embodies the kind of industriousness and strength required to be a dancer. 'There is something counterintuitive about putting a ballet school beside a rail yard,' admits Steve McDowell, principal and design director at the Kansas City'based architecture firm BNIM. But the dissonance is a good thing, McDowell says: the building and its site gave the architects an opportunity to respond to the 'muscularity and form of the human body' in motion while they created a new home for the city's ballet company and its school.

The KCB's former home was scheduled for demolition to make way for Moshe Safdie's Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts (for which BNIM was the architect of record), completed in 2011. Though the professional company would be staging productions in this new arts center, it set out to find another location for its school, rehearsal spaces, and administrative offices. The disused plant'known as the Power House'was part of a greater city plan to redevelop the area with Union Station at the heart of the project. It was an unusually advantageous option for the company because of its double-height ceilings and generous square footage. 'The city considered the Power House for offices, a nightclub, a whole host of uses,' says McDowell. But it lay vacant for 30 years until the ballet company set its sights on it.

To salvage the long-neglected industrial building and transform it into the Todd Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity, the crew gutted the entire 65,000-square-foot, two-story structure. The design team transformed the column-free north end of the building, once a cavernous engine room, into seven instruction and rehearsal studios. Administrative offices, dressing rooms, and restrooms occupy the building's south side. Certain industrial remnants'coal funnels, skylights, and the soaring Power House chimney, for example'were preserved in a careful choreography of new and old. Large new energy-efficient windows mimic the existing fenestration with exacting detail and provide abundant daylight penetration and views to the outside. Yet other interventions don't pretend to be old, says McDowell, referring to the 21st-century structural components used to build the mezzanine level and a second floor of dance studios.

Since the Todd Bolender Center opened in August 2011, the KCB reported a 70 percent increase in enrollment at its school from the 2010'11 year and a 92 percent increase in overall season attendance. 'The Union Station complex is nearly finished now,' with the center as a finishing touch, McDowell says. 'People have been really enthusiastic about it.'

106 W. 14th Street
Kansas City, MO 64105

Completion Date: August 2011

Gross square footage: 65,000 square feet

Total construction cost: $39 million


Client: Kansas City Ballet

106 W. 14th Street
Kansas City, MO 64105

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Steve McDowell, FAIA; Rick Schladweiler, AIA; Joshua Hemberger

Interior designer: BNIM

Structural Engineer: Structural Engineering Association, Kansas City, MO
Civil Engineer: Taliaferro & Browne, Kansas City, MO

Design-build MEP Contractors
Gibbens Drake Scott, Inc., Raytown, MO
Mark One Electric Co. Inc., Kansas City, MO
US Engineering, Kansas City, MO
National Fire Suppression, Kansas City, KS

Landscape: BNIM
Acoustical: Acoustical Design Group, Mission, KS
Code: FSC, Overland Park, KS
Hardware: Studio 08 Consultants, Kansas City, MO
Preservation: Architectural & Historical Research, LLC, Kansas City, MO
Theatre Consultant: Harvest Productions, Kansas City, MO
Exhibit Design: Eisterhold Assoc., Kansas City, MO
FFE: Contract Furnishings, Kansas City, MO

General contractor: JE Dunn Construction

Len Fohn
Mike Sinclair
Cody Lovetere
Farshid Assassi

CAD system, project management, or other software used: Autodesk Revit and AutoCAD



Structural system
Deep foundations consisted of 16” dia. auger cast pressure grouted drilled piles founded on bedrock, at new east and west shear walls/stair & elevator shafts, bearing on pile caps.

Basement level approx. 18” below static water table at site. Extensive repairs and waterproofing to existing foundation walls. Existing basement slab entirely replaced.

Structural steel framing required extensive corrosion damage repairs and strengthening from basement level to roof level.

Exterior cladding
Masonry: JE Dunn Construction Company - Existing multiwythe historic brick & terra cotta masonry restoration, 100% repointing of all exterior brick
Metal/glass curtainwall:  Manko
Concrete: JE Dunn Construction Company / LaFarge North America - Existing exposed foundation walls repairs/restoration
EIFS, ACM, or other:  E&K of Kansas City -  Dryvit

Built-up roofing: TPO – Great Plains Roofing - Firestone Building Products

Other: Chimney base extension feature with supplemental louvers

Wood: ASI Review

Glass: A2MG - Insulite
Skylights: A2MG - WASCO Skylights Insulated-panel or plastic glazing: 

Entrances:  A2MG -Manko
Metal doors: American Direct - Ceco Door Products
Wood doors: American Direct - VT Industries
Sliding doors:  A2MG -Manko

Locksets: Sargent Manufacturing
Hinges: McKinney Hinge
Closers: Sargent Manufacturing
Exit devices: Sargent Manufacturing
Pulls: Rockwood Manufacturing

Interior finishes:
Acoustical ceilings:
E&K of Kansas City - Armstrong
Suspension grid: E&K of Kansas City - Armstrong
Paints and stains: AT Switzer Painting - PPG
Wallcoverings: Interior brick masonry walls and chimney stack repaired and repointed.
Paneling: Metal Paneling – WC Wiedenmann and Sons - All Pro
Special surfacing: Harlequin Dance Studio Flooring
Floor and wall tile:
Resilient flooring: Campione - Mannington
Carpet: Campione - Interface / Bigelow

Office furniture Supplier: Contract Furnishings, 3129 Main St., Kansas City, MO (Proj. Manager Jean-Paul Wong; Specified by Jim  Southall)
Open Office: Allsteel Terrrace DNA Panels with Allsteel REACH Storage
Private office: Allsteel Stride
Reception furniture: Custom by Square One Studio
Reception seating: Custom by Square One Studio
Fixed seating: Mid-States School & Irwin
Chairs: United Chair, Global, Allsteel
Tables: Allsteel Merge and Allsteel Get Set Training
Upholstery: DesignTex, Maharram
Filing:  Allsteel Align
Other furniture: Telescopic Seating – Mid-States School & Irwin

Elevators/Escalators: Kone

Water Closets / Urinals: American Standard / Zurn

Air Handling Units: Trane

Add any additional building components or special equipment that made a significant contribution to this project:
Dance Floors: Acme Floor Company, Inc – Harlequin
Structural Steel: The Bratton Corporation

Relocation and restoration of original large gantry crane to west end of building over Studio 1.