UMKC has hired Helix Architecture + Design, Integra Realty Resources and HGA Architects and Engineers to complete a feasibility study for a downtown UMKC arts campus. The firms will develop a preliminary program and cost estimate for the project, look at potential downtown properties, develop site and concept plans and gather feedback from UMKC and the community over the next several months.
After considering several architectural firms, UMKC chose Helix Architecture + Design and HGA because of their design leadership and national expertise in visual and performing arts facilities for colleges and universities, including a proposed rehearsal and education wing for the Lied Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Kansas, the renovation of historic Kansas City landmarks such as the Midland Theatre and AMC’s Mainstreet Theatre and the modernization of the Richard Bolling Federal Building, a national award-winning project located in downtown Kansas City, Mo.
One of the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s “Big 5” ideas, the UMKC arts campus idea would relocate the Conservatory of Music and Dance, and potentially other arts programs such as the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, KCUR 89.3 FM and UMKC Theatre program to a new downtown location, reinforcing the university’s missions to advance urban engagement and excel in the visual and performing arts.
With the recent grand openings of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity, civic and university leaders agree that a UMKC arts campus would enrich a growing arts district. In line with the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation’s 2005 “Time to Get It Right” report – which said the arts are essential to attracting the young, talented professionals Kansas City needs to flourish – the UMKC arts campus could bring as many as 1,000 students, faculty and staff downtown each week.
Concurrent with the feasibility study, the university will be conducting an independent economic impact study to investigate how a UMKC arts campus could complement investments in other arts facilities and help small businesses emerge. With the help of Wellington “Duke” Reiter, former president of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and dean of the College of Design at Arizona State University, UMKC also will examine how a downtown arts campus could affect academic, campus and social life at Kansas City’s downtown/Crossroads areas and UMKC’s Volker and Hospital Hill campuses.
If the feasibility study proves the UMKC arts campus to be a worthwhile investment, funding will rely almost exclusively on local revenue streams.