Center for Neighborhoods celebrates Grand Opening – April 23rd!

Date: April 23, 2016
Time: 10 AM

4747 Troost Avenue
Kansas City Missouri

Please join the Department of Architecture, Urban Planning and Design (AUP+D) in the College of Arts and Sciences at UMKC to celebrate the grand opening of the Center for Neighborhoods and welcome our new staff.

The opening ceremony will begin promptly at 10:25 a.m. on Saturday April 23rd at the Center for Neighborhoods – 4747 Troost Avenue, KCMO.

The event is free and open to the public. There will be light refreshments and music.

The Center for Neighborhoods is located at 4747 Troost Avenue, Suite 222 – Kansas City MO 64109. The Center is a research and outreach unit based in the Department of Architecture, Urban Planning + Design.

For more information, please visit our new website:

BUD Prize 2015

From left: Olivia Ashbrook, Sam Green, Lauren Silvers

Future architects learn design and responsibility

What does it take to stimulate an appetite for discovery in an urban environment, establish a space to both create and appreciate art, and build a connection among a park, a school, a church and a residential neighborhood?

It takes an architect with an understanding of urban design. And that is the underlying lesson for the second-year students in the Architectural Studies program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Students in Architectural Design Studio I, taught by faculty members John Eck and Ted Seligson in the Department of Architecture, Urban Planning and Design, spent much of the semester working on an assignment to design a community art center for the Hyde Park/Manheim Park neighborhood.

A specific site was chosen – the northwest corner of Troost Avenue and Mannheim Road – and students were required to consider the immediate neighborhood’s context: a mix of residential space, parkland, and major buildings such as St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and DeLaSalle Education Center.

“Although the program asks you to provide a pleasing and functional space for a number of art-related activities, your responsibility does not stop there,” the assignment’s creative brief reads. “Your art center has the potential to physically bring the community together—through art shows, classes and other events. When you design the art center, your client is not only the art center—it is also, and perhaps even more importantly, the community.”

The building was required to include an outdoor entry court, entry vestibule, gallery, six artist studios, a wood/metal shop, print shop, outdoor work space and an apartment and studio for a visiting artist.

In addition to learning their future profession, the students also competed for the annual Bud Prize, a $1,000 scholarship established in 2004 with Helix / Architecture + Design to honor Edwin S. “Bud” Persons, who was a Senior Interior Architect with Helix.

First Prize in the competition went to Olivia Ashbrook. Her design called for a steel structure with white metal paneling on inside spaces for a pure, sleek appearance; a central gallery uses glass paneling to allow natural light.

In an accompanying essay, Ashbrook wrote “The gallery became the central focus of this design, or the hierarchy space … located in the center of the building, with the rest of the spaces wrapped around it.”

The gallery can be glimpsed, but not seen fully from the street, she added, so it “becomes something to be discovered, drawing people in off the street.” The design called for a structure built to a residential scale but “the aesthetic is meant to declare a commercial presence.” Exterior louvers are covered by art to shade the studios and act as signage for the center.

Lauren Silvers earned second prize for her design, a square structure with a central courtyard that serves as the heart of the art center, illuminated by a screened skylight, with secondary spaces grouped around it.

Sam Green earned Honorable Mention. Other participating students in the studio included George Aguilar, Elana Carter, Landon Cook, Jadenn Kelley, JD Meyers, Alex Overbay, Dennis Tong, Sam Valenzuela and Charlie Vue.

Jurors for the competition were Joy Swallow, Architect and AUP+D Department Chair; Shannon Jaax, Planner/ Director of the Repurposing Initiative for Kansas City Public Schools; Alissa Wehmueller, Director of Interiors at Helix / Architecture + Design; Jennifer Tuttle, Artist and Artist’s Mentor; and Christopher Fein, Architect and Professor of Architecture at Kansas State University.

(Story via John Martellaro, UMKC Communications)

Center for Neighborhoods

The Center for Neighborhoods is our new outreach and research center based in the Department and located at 4747 Troost Avenue in Kansas City Missouri. We will serve neighborhoods leaders in Missouri through a series of programs, technical assistance and university-community partnerships to build the capacity of local neighborhood organizations and homeowner’s associations. This Center is funded by the State of Missouri and is a direct result of leadership provided by State Senator Shalonn “Kiki” Curls of Missouri.

It’s that time of year… Final reviews! You’re invited.

Our students have been busy all semester….

Please swing by Katz Hall in the next few days and see our students in action during final reviews and presentations…

Pavilion Project – first year studio
9 December / Katz Hall, 101, 107

Valentine Neighborhood / Site alternatives for
Urban Planning and Design I
2:30 pm
Katz Hall 101

Lafitte Greenway opens in New Orleans!

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, the Friends of Lafitte Greenway and the City of New Orleans have announced the opening of the Lafitte Greenway. Students and faculty from UMKC’s Department of Architecture, Urban Planning and Design were some of the first planners to work on the greenway idea in 2006. The work was completed as part of a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). UMKC was one of only 16 universities to receive a HUD grant as part of the Universities Rebuilding America Program (URAP).

UMKC worked with the Urban Conservancy in New Orleans to establish a new advocacy group called the Friends of Lafitte Corridor (FOLC). This group worked to advocate for the construction of the Lafitte Greenway in all of the City’s post-disaster recovery plans. Dr. Wagner, Dr. Frisch, Vincent Gauthier and a team of UMKC students worked on the early plans to establish the greenway and the Friends of Lafitte Corridor in 2006 as part of a grant from HUD’s Office of University Partnerships.

UMKC_Lafitte Greenway Continue reading

BNIM Urban Planner Josh Boehm presents at SxSW Eco


SxSW Eco Presentation: Josh Boehm (2013 UP+D Alumnus, and Trustee’s Scholar) 

Josh’s presentation at SxSW Eco will illustrate some of the emerging innovations of Kansas City’s Smart + Connected City initiative. Kansas City’s Smart City infrastructure will accompany the City’s nearly complete 2.2-mile downtown streetcar route, and will be the largest network in North America. While built by a public-private partnership between the City, Cisco, and Sprint, the Smart City project is built on a foundation of openness, with opportunities for other collaborators to find entrepreneurial uses of Smart City data.

BNIM’s entrepreneurial focus is on ways to build and retrofit living environments that are good for people and the environment. With new Smart city infrastructure in its backyard, BNIM has a unique opportunity to study the health of the urban environment – from the volume and quality of water runoff from excessive surface parking lots, to the quality of the air near interstate freeways, to pedestrian and cyclist activity around streetcar stations, and planned bike lanes.

Now in its fifth year, SxSW Eco is an international forum for debate and discovery that brings together individuals from diverse backgrounds who are passionate about advancing solutions that achieve Triple Bottom line results — driving economic, environmental, and social change.

Eco-Innovation District: Smart City + Sustainability
Tuesday, October 6
Austin Convention Center 8BC

excerpt from BNIM log post September 2015

The 2015 JC Nichols Student Prize Reception is Friday, May 8, 2015, 5pm.

The 2015 JC Nichols Student Prize reception is Friday, May 8th, at 5:30 pm in Katz Hall Room 101. The winners of the 2015 student prize in urban planning + design as well as other Department of Architecture, Urban Planning + Design honors will be announced at this reception. All are welcome.

The JC Nichols Student Prize in Urban Planning + Design has been made possible by a generous contribution of the Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation.

Legislative Day Attended by Urban Planning + Design Students


Every year the University of Missouri System hosts Legislative Day at the Missouri state capital as a platform to advocate for higher education. This year, senior planners in Dr. Wagner’s Planning and Design Studio IV made the trip to Jefferson City where they visited with elected officials and shared research they have conducted in preparation for the Center for Neighborhoods. Students advocated and–encouraged lawmakers to support the Center for Neighborhoods. After a morning of lobbying legislators, lunch was hosted by Senator Kiki Curls office.

Students attending: Luisa Calumpong, Shawn Edghill, Madelyn Johnson, Gabriela Pintos, Andrew Pollock, Micah Radler & Micah Scoggan.

Urban Planning + Design in the News!

Five do-gooders quietly make it easier for KC to heart itself
By David Hudnall @davidhudnall / excerpt from: The Pitch, 2/10/15


Photos by Angela C. Bond

Idris Raoufi, 2013 Urban Planning + Design Alumnus
816 Bicycle Collective
The past couple of years, we’ve marked Valentine’s Day by talking to our crushes: men and women around town who are doing things cool enough to make us swoon a little. This year, we went looking for people who had crushes of their own: on the city. We’re not talking about garden-variety hometown-priders, the “I share too much pro-KC clickbait on Facebook” types. We mean folks who spend their time actively contributing to the improvement of Kansas City and its citizens.
The five individuals we picked — and yes, we know, our list is a couple of thousand people short — direct their energy toward a variety of civic endeavors, from battling predatory lenders to educating teenagers through theater about HIV/AIDS. What they have in common: They impress and inspire us. We hope they impress and inspire you, too.

 Idris Raoufi’s views on urban planning in Kansas City border on bleak.

“KC is one of the most underplanned municipalities in the United States,” Raoufi says. “We’re 30 years behind the curve with land use, neighborhood preservation, municipal services, community health. There’s been almost no emphasis on planning for the future.”

But even in challenging environments, dedicated souls tend to locate niches in which a difference might be made. Raoufi’s niche: the 816 Bicycle Collective, where he focuses his energy when he’s not working his day job as a transportation planner for Wilson & Co., an engineering and architecture firm.

The 816 Bicycle Collective is a free community bike shop, staffed by volunteers who repair bikes and teach commuters how to do the same: how to adjust the brakes, how to change a flat, how to fix a derailleur, even how to build a bike from scratch. “People who rely on a bike to get to work — many of whom realistically can’t afford to ride the bus — are in large part the people who visit us,” Raoufi says. “There’s a large population of people in this city that gets around by bike, and our main function is to empower those people with the knowledge to fix their own bikes.”

Raoufi co-founded the collective in 2008 with Suzanne Hogan, Kirk McDowell-Shafer, Bri Lauterbach and Sean Eagan. For now, it’s located in a back alleyway off Troost, at 3116 Forest. But in late spring or early summer, it’s moving to a more visible location, in the Union Hill neighborhood. Two years ago, at the Jackson County delinquent-tax auction, the organization purchased three buildings near the corner of 31st Street and Cherry.

“We got these three buildings on the same parcel in incredible condition, in a great location,” Raoufi says. “We had no intention of actually getting them. But nobody else bid on them.”

Thanks to donations at the shop, heavily discounted services from a friendly contractor and $32,000 netted from a 2013 crowdfunding campaign, the 816 Bicycle Collective has gradually renovated the properties. The new space will be multifaceted, housing the collective as well as its parent organization, the KC Bicycle Federation. The goal is to have leasable spaces in the other buildings that will generate revenue to fund the operations of the bike collective and pay for expenses associated with upkeep. “Ideally, we’d be leasing to like-minded nonprofits,” Raoufi says.

A self-sustaining hub for cycling advocacy: not bad for a town that historically has been less-than-progressive on transportation issues.
“There’s a lot you can do here that you can’t do in other cities,” Raoufi says, sounding a little more optimistic. “It’s why the collective has been able to do what it’s done so far. The work I’m passionate about is taking technical abilities I learned in school and helping advance disenfranchised communities to take better hold of the development of their neighborhoods. If you tried to do that in lots of other cities, you’d be dealing with higher real estate [costs], scarcer resources, more competition. This is a city of great opportunity if you’re aware of it.”

excerpt from: The Pitch, 2/10/15

Design Patronage Series: Whitney Kerr, Sr.

Date: March 30, 2015
Time: 5:00pm

Kerr Sr reduced

Whitney Kerr Sr. has been active in the commercial, industrial and land brokerage business as a broker and developer for more than six decades. In the 1970s, Mr. Kerr brokered the land for 11 office park developments in the I-435/College Boulevard corridor.  The largest was the 293-acre Corporate Woods Office Park, and he was one of the original owner-developers. In the 1980s, he assembled 23 acres of land in downtown  Kansas City in a partnership with H. Ross Perot Jr., and was very instrumental in the subsequent expansion of Bartle Hall over the downtown freeway onto the 23 acres.  Mr. Kerr is a Senior Vice President with DTZ, a global leader in property service.

Please come  hear Mr. Kerr speak, followed by a brief Q&A.

Good design does not just happen.  A design patron is someone who shapes the built environment by inspiring, motivating and challenging design professionals and engaging in a design process. Good design contributes to our physical and mental well-being and improves the public realm while facilitating civic engagement. The Department of Architecture, Urban Planning + Design believes design patronage in Kansas City deserves recognition. Our goal with this series of speakers is to illuminate how past decisions led to our present urban form, and how today’s decisions will create the Kansas City of the future. 

2013 Design Patron: R. Crosby Kemper
2014 Design Patron: Tom McDonald