Archive for ‘moshe safdie’

June 22, 2011

The Big Pull | Kauffman Center for Performing Arts

The Big Pull

You may not have noticed, but the entire steel structure of the Kauffman Center moved in the past month. Well, it only moved a couple of inches, but that it moved at all is remarkable. This is part of the “tensioning process” that is critical to the stability of the Kauffman Center design. It also enables the luxurious ceiling and walls made of glass to sweep so graciously, but securely, over patrons below.

“The pull,” as the construction team refers to the process that moved the steel structure, was done by crews from the subcontractor BSC using sophisticated measurements, precise technology and large hydraulic jacks. The precise engineering process takes place slowly over a month period, focusing on one portion of the steel grid at a time. An understated Matt Jansen, project manager with JE Dunn Construction Company, admits, “It’s a gigantic engineering feat.”

Engineering Feat

The Kauffman Center architectural design calls for a steel infrastructure and a cable supported system, something not common to most buildings. This requires the construction team to first build a typical steel structure. Then they tension cable support between that steel framework and the concrete anchor wall separating the building from the garage.

The glass lobby, a signature aspect of the Kauffman Center design, was engineered by Novum Structures. They are supported in their work by two local subcontractors: BSC, that focuses on the steel aspects of the lobby construction (including the pull) and Bratton that installs the glass.

Twenty-seven steel columns, gently angled like tent poles, are attached by cables to the existing steel infrastructure of the halls and to the concrete anchor wall near the parking garage below. The anchor wall is 50 feet high, four feet thick and 360 feet long.

Bolts weighing 20 pounds are used temporarily in the tensioning process. If weather cooperates, glass will begin to be installed in April, 2010 in some areas of the lobby roof and walls, even though the tensioning process may continue in other sections.

Additional complexity in this stage of construction arises from the need for guttering, lighting and heaters near where the roof meets the south wall.

In addition, another large engineering feat will take place when four cables are installed east to west across the roof’s edge to create a snow fence that catches and keeps snow in place until melted.

Steel Tensioning

Cable Renderings

2809 E 85th Street
Kansas City, MO 64132-2535
First Exterior Glass Panels Installed At Kauffman Center For The Performing Arts

China Glass NetworkConstruction of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts this week entered an important phase with the installation of the first of nearly 1,400 exterior glass panels.

The glass will form the dramatic transparent canopy enclosing the southern face of the arts center and what will be its four-story-tall grand lobby.

Each glass panel, fabricated in China, is affixed to a complex, intricately engineered network of masts and cables.

The glass installation is expected to be completed this fall, said Kyle McQuiston, vice president and project manager for J.E. Dunn Construction Co., the general contractor.

“It represents a big milestone for enclosing the building,” McQuiston said, “as work proceeds inside the two halls.”

The $400 million project, including an 1,800-seat theater, a 1,600-seat concert hall, and a 1,000-space parking garage, is on track to open in fall 2011.

Stainless steel cladding by ZAHNER:

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is already having a dramatic and transformative impact on Kansas City, changing both the city’s skyline as well as the experience of artists and audiences throughout the region. Designed by acclaimed Canadian architect, Moshe Safdie, the project is set for completion in 2011, and is the most highly anticipated structure in the bi-state region.

The center itself is a nearly 285,000-square-foot facility with two performance venues: the 1,800-seat Muriel Kauffman Theatre and the 1,600-seat Helzberg Hall. It is sure to become the singular architectural icon for Kansas City and be counted among the finest performing arts centers. Once completed, it will become home to the Kansas City Symphony, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and the Kansas City Ballet.

Above is a photograph of the architect’s model, by John Horner.

The internationally recognized design team that has been assembled includes Moshe Safdie & Associates, Theatre Projects Consultants, and Nagata Acoustics. Their design incorporates the very latest in architectural innovation and technology to create virtually perfect acoustics and optimal sightlines in both performance halls.

Zahner is working closely with both the design team, as well as the construction management team at JE Dunn to bring the final surface to fruition. The entire roof and metal wall-surface is clad in Zahner GB-60™ Stainless Steel, a product well known for its muted reflectivity as well as it’s resilience to nature’s wear.

The first GB-60™ Stainless panels were installed at Kauffman Center last week (Week of August 2nd, 2010). Below are the photographs of these first panels, giving a sneak peak of the surface which will eventually wrap the majority of the building.

June 22, 2011

Symphony of Steel | Kauffman Center for Performing Arts

Fine tuning the curves at Kauffman Center for Performing Arts

Chuck Mears, AIA, Posted 03/07/2011

Symphony_Northeast View

Although construction is not yet complete, the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts is already becoming an icon in the Kansas City, Mo., skyline. Designed by architect Moshe Safdie, the 285,000-square-foot center features a dramatic arching shell to house two state-of-the-art performance venues. While Kansas City residents await the Center’s grand opening, a specialty framing team has been hard at work, creating its own symphony of steel designed to support the magnificent curves of the sculpted building.

Symphony_Halzberg HallThe Center itself is an approximately 285,000-square-foot facility with two technically sophisticated performance spaces: the 1,800-seat proscenium-style Muriel Kauffman Theatre and 1,600-seat concert Helzberg Hall. The technical requirements and exacting standards required of a facility like the Kauffman Center make it among the most complex structures in today’s modern architectural landscape.

One of the most challenging tasks in the project has been providing the underlying steel structure for the highly specific, unusual detail of the concert hall walls. The “bumps,” as they are called, are a series of acoustically specific, multi-radiused bulges in the performing arts center walls, which solve some very challenging acoustic issues.

In other eras these bumps would have been framed with a “close enough” mentality and would have visually performed to that level. Today, with the extremely sophisticated acoustical engineering solutions that are applied to performing arts centers of this high caliber, “close enough” wasn’t going to allow this large musical space to be “tuned” properly.

The custom-designed precise, consistent framing solution designed by Minneapolis-based Radius Track Corp. architects uses straight and curved steel studs and track along with laser-cut steel shapes for the small bumps. While normal stud spacing is 16 inches on center, the Kauffman Center framing was devised to create rib frames at 36 inches on center and bridge them with lighter gauge hat channels that could flex with the room’s geometry. This approach not only solved a perplexing detail, but raised the bar by creating an ingeniously simple solution which saved significant time and material with impeccable results. Fifty-seven of these frames were produced offsite in controlled shop environments to meet the exacting standards this project demanded.

Custom-designed and fabricated steel framing was also used in the ceilings for the Concert Hall and Proscenium Theater, the balcony facing reflector walls and the donor’s area ceiling. All of these areas were modeled using 3-D computer technology to virtually build the spaces before a single piece was fabricated. This process of Building Information Modeling, also known as Integrated Project Delivery, pulls the project team together earlier in the process of design and brings them into close communication so that coordination of systems and specific locations of elements can be worked out prior to material being fabricated. Clashes (or conflicts in overlapping locations) are resolved in the 3-D model, so when the pieces are delivered to the jobsite they can be installed with confidence.

Symphony_RadiusTrack“Radius Track designed the 3-D model of the ceiling framing to accommodate the speakers, light fixtures and other design elements. They detected potential clashes in advance, which saved us a tremendous amount of time and effort during installation. There wasn’t anything we had to go back and correct after installation; the framing design already took everything into account,” said Ryan Crist, project engineer for Grandview, Mo.-based Performance Contracting Inc., the drywall contractor on the job. PCI did all drywall, traditional plaster, veneer plaster, ceilings, EIFS and gypsum on the project.

Custom framing innovation was also employed for the undulating ceiling designs. “The geometry of the ceilings was fairly complex and would have been a real challenge to construct using traditional methods,” said Crist. “Radius Track gave us a better product, allowing us to frame faster and more accurately than traditional ways.”

With the help of consulting structural engineers at Trabue, Hansen & Hinshaw Inc., Columbia, Mo., the framing design team was able to successfully create curved framing that could handle the weight of 25-pound acoustical plaster, attached equipment and other loads. With a crisply detailed solution that again extended the spacing of stud members and utilized CRC channels half the size of normal framing, the curved metal framing solved another series of acoustically specific profiles with exacting proficiency. The use of advanced framing approaches like these helped significantly lower the per-square-foot weight of framing, resulting in measurable cost and labor savings. To simplify installation, 16- by 20-foot panels were designed to be built on the floor then lifted into place when complete-especially challenging with ceilings that are bowing, arching and curving.

“Radius Track made the installation of the ceilings easy. They broke the ceiling into smaller panels and gave us the corner elevations of that piece. All we had to do was assemble the pieces on the ground and lift into place. We had a detailed map to follow as opposed to having to curve members on our own. It would have been very, very tough to do the project without them.”

The Kauffman Center will open in September 2011.

Chuck Mears, AIA, is the CEO and chief design officer for Radius Track, Minneapolis. He founded the company in 1996 and has been at the forefront of curved steel framing design ever since. Learn more from

IMAGES FROM TOP: View from the northeast. Photo courtesy of David Riffel; Rendering of Helzberg Hall interior. Image courtesy of Safdie Associates; Installation photo courtesy of Radius Track.




June 22, 2011

moshe safdie: kauffman center for the performing arts complete

‘the kauffman center for the performing arts’ by moshe safdie, kansas city, missouri
images © tim hursley

construction is now complete for kansas city’s kauffman center for performing arts by international firm moshe safdie and associates.
set to open to the public on september 16, 2011, the facility will become home to ballet, contemporary dance, various genres of music,
broadway productions and the like. the iconic building contains cutting edge technology providing artists a premier space to present their work.

northeast facade

a sweeping curtain wall along the southwest facade allows abundant natural light to enter a large atrium space, the
brandmeyer great hall. the buildings dominant shell forms contain two large auditoriums, the muriel kauffman theatre and helzberg hall.
architectural details provide advanced acoustic elements for high quality performances and ample seating for spectators.

southwest facade

the glazed lobby encourages social gathering in the spaces located between the two auditoriums while offering sweeping
views of the city. multiple balconies overlooking the atrium connect to the various mezzanine levels within the theaters.
this arrangement allows patrons to easily leave their seat in the audience to enjoy the view during intermissions.

facade detail

designboom has been following this project since its inception highlighting early design phases and construction.

brandmeyer great hall

muriel kauffman theatre interior

helzberg hall interior

section through muriel kauffman theatre
image courtesy of safdie associates

section through helzberg hall
image courtesy of safdie associates

project details:

architect: moshe safdie / safdie architects
total square footage: 285,000 square feet

principal spaces:
muriel kauffman theatre: 18,900-square-foot house
helzberg hall: 16,800-square-foot house
brandmeyer great hall: 15,000 square feet
performing arts center terrace: 113,000 square feet
offices for the kauffman center staff: 7,000 square feet
1,000-car garage, owned and operated by the city of kansas city, mo
shared backstage facilities: dressing accommodations for over 250 performers, 11 rehearsal and warm-up rooms,
meet-and-greet lounge

40,000 square feet of glass
10.8 million pounds of structural steel
25,000 cubic yards of concrete
1.93 million pounds of plaster
27 steel cables, each holding up to 500,000 pounds of force

design team:
associate architect: bnim architects
acoustics: nagata acoustics
theatre design: theatre projects consultants
structural engineer: arup usa, inc.
local structural engineer: structural engineering associates, inc.
mep/fire protection engineers: arup usa, inc.
local mep engineers: wl cassell & associates, inc.
project manager: land capital corporation
general contractor: j.e. dunn construction
civil engineer: taliaferro and browne, inc.
security: m-e engineers, inc.
landscape architect: reed hilderbrand associates, inc.
sound: engineering harmonics, inc.
lighting: lam partners, inc.

muriel kauffman theatre

square footage: 18,900-square-foot house
seating capacity: 1,800 seats
stage: 5,000-square-foot stage; width of stage opening may be adjusted from 40’-50’
orchestra pit: up to 1,300 square feet; accommodates as many as 96 musicians
features & systems: 73’9” fly tower accommodates scenery up to 2,000 lbs. and 30’ tall. fully walk-able rigging
grid is accessible by stairs, ladders, and elevator. retractable acoustic banner system allows for acoustical adjustments
accommodating both small and large-scale productions. stage curtain contains motorized counterweight lineset;
center and intermediate splits allow for motorized split travel or guillotine opening

helzberg hall

square footage: 16,800-square-foot house
seating capacity: 1,600 seats
stage: 2,700 square feet, including six lifts which form an adjustable riser system
pipe organ: 79 stops, 102 ranks, 5,548 pipes; custom-designed mechanical action organ in the french romantic tradition,
built by quebec firm casavant frères
features & systems: fixed acoustical canopy above the stage. retractable banner system included in side walls and above
fixed canopy. six 1,000-pound point hoist systems to hang custom curved trusses. five skylights allow natural daylight to
filter into hall.


Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
Architect’s Statement: Moshe Safdie

The opportunity to design a major new performing arts center was precipitated by two
significant decisions: the selection of an extraordinary site crowning the escarpment
overlooking the historic warehouse district and the new entertainment district, affording
a 180° view of the horizon; and the decision to construct two dedicated halls for
symphony, ballet, opera, and theater.
Downtown Kansas City, set upon a plateau, extends southwards towards an escarpment
from where it descends, opening to an expansive view, which is further accentuated by
the flat prairie landscape. To the north, one sees the drama of the downtown skyline
with its grid of streets framing the property and the Kansas City Convention Center.
I am a believer that the site of a project always holds the secret for its design concept.
Walking around, I was compelled by the dramatic view to the south. Thus, I placed the
two performance halls to face south, integrated and connected by a single great
lobby—an expansive glazed porch contained by a glass tent-like structure. The drop in
the land towards the south allowed us to include a new road that serves as the drop-off
point and leads to a large underground parking garage on top of which sits a park. From
the garage and the drop-off levels, the public ascends the grand stair to the great hall,
with public gathering areas and the individual theaters on each side. Recognizing the
significance of downtown as an additional access point, the North Entrance was aligned
on the axis of Central Street, penetrating through the building into the theater lobbies.
Each hall reads as a distinct volume; metaphorically evoking a musical instrument and
visible through the glass shell. As the natural light changes, so does the building’s
transparency, reflecting the structure’s surroundings and, at the same time, hinting at its
interior. At night, the entire building becomes inverted, displaying all of its interior
activities to the community outside.
The halls are served by a series of access balconies fronting on the great hall, forming
two conical stacked rings of white plaster. The thousands of people mingling before
and after performances and intermissions are theatrically visible to one another. Thus,
the great hall with its surrounding balconies is a counterpoint to the theaters within; the
theater of the public realm, where the celebrating public are visible to the southern
sweep of the city.
If the site generates the design of a complex as a whole, then the acoustic strategy is the
generator of the design of Helzberg Hall. Working with Yasuhisa Toyota of Nagata
Acoustics, a volumetric and geometric concept for the hall evolved. From the outset, we
wanted a hall that was intimate and in which the public is engaged with the musicians in
a feeling of embrace. Rather than the traditional frontal relationship of stage and 2
audience, we surrounded the music makers with the public. With the 1,600 seat count,
which makes great intimacy possible, we strove to have each and every person
experience the music without a balcony or ceiling above them. We also wanted the
spatial experience within the hall to evoke the exterior design of the building. Thus, the
fanning geometry of the northern façade is echoed within the interior, supporting the
sculptural arrangement of the organ within it; as it reaches towards the ceiling it
branches apart, forming skylights that allow the daylight and sun to penetrate and
reflect upon the organ.
In counterpoint to the warm intimacy of Helzberg Hall, the Muriel Kauffman Theater is
festive and exuberant. The three balconies envelop the hall in a horseshoe-like
enclosure. Each balcony is broken down into a series of steps cascading from the center
rear balcony to the individual boxes on either side of the stage. The stepping enhances
sightlines and provides for a sense of intimacy and connection with the action on the
stage. The balcony balustrades are a contemporary reinterpretation of the gilded,
glittering, candle-lit balconies of 18
and 19
century theaters. The lights reflect
through the glass-like enclosure to form an ever-changing chandelier-like surface. The
hall’s acoustic enclosure is composed of undulating walls, shaped like vertical stacked
barrels and designed by Toyota for optimal sound reflection. To integrate these shapes
into the whole, a series of slats provide a screen-like enclosure. A series of murals,
conceived and designed by the students of the Kansas City Art Institute, are painted and
illuminated directly on the acoustical structures. The overall effect is of a dynamic mural,
rich in reds, greens, blues and yellows, fused into the geometry of the room.



June 5, 2011

kauffman center for the performing arts by moshe safdie and associates nearing completion

‘the kauffman center for the performing arts’ by moshe safdie, kansas city, missouri
image © david riffel

the kauffman center for the performing arts by moshe safdie and associates is nearing completion.
set to open on september 16, 2011 in kansas city, missouri, the structure represents a new approach to cultural life,
marking for the first time a project of this scale and program in the city. acting as a catalyst for social, educational
and economic vitality, the 285,000 square-foot center aims to advance the role of arts within the community while
encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration and cross fertilization of audiences.

image © david riffel
the facility will include two stand-alone halls – the 1,800-seat muriel kauffman theater and the 1,600-seat helzberg hall – housed within arched glass and steel volumes enclosed by a glass facade that will provide sweeping views of the city. once operational, the center will be one of the most technically and architecturally advanced facilities of its kind in the nation.

aerial view
image courtesy of moshe safdie

image © david riffel