Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The architecture of Kansas

The architecture of Kansas City, Missouri and the metro area includes major works by many of the world's most distinguished architects and firms, including McKim, Mead and White.

The city was founded in the 1850s at the confluence of the Missouri and Kaw Rivers and grew with the expansion of the railroads, stockyards, and meatpacking industry. Prominent citizens settled in the Quality Hill neighborhood and commissioned fine homes primarily in Italianate Renaissance Revival style, which continued to be the major influence for new structures past the turn-of-the century. George Kessler's urban plan for Kansas City with its expansive park and boulevard system, inspired by the City Beautiful Movement, made a profound and lasting impact on the city.

The core of the downtown area developed in an early 20th century building boom that continued into the Great Depression. The city has several buildings that place it among cities with the ten best examples of art deco architecture in the United States. Municipal Auditorium, the Kansas City Power and Light Building, and Jackson County Courthouse have been called "three of the nation's Art Deco treasures." J.C. Nichols, a prominent developer of commercial and residential real estate developed the Country Club Plaza (by Edward Buehler Delk and Edward Tanner), and was active in the promotion of lasting architectural landmarks such as Liberty Memorial (Harold Van Buren Magonigle), and Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Wight and Wight).

A second period of building growth occurred from the 1960s through the 1980s. During this time, Kansas City, Missouri gained much of its modern skyline, including One Kansas City Place, which is currently the tallest building in Missouri at 623 feet. Suburban growth spread into Johnson County, Kansas with new homes and mid-rise office buildings.

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