Living Design

Construction begins on Charlotte Street Foundation’s new campus

A ceremony on Wednesday, June 12, celebrated the start of construction for Charlotte Street Foundation’s new campus. The campus is located adjacent to the Roanoke Park neighborhood and just down the road from our Kansas City shop.

The Charlotte Street Foundation was established in 1997 in response to a lack of creative, social and economic resources for Kansas City artists. The organization has steadily expanded its suite of services to include special commissions, free studio residencies, exhibition and performance space for artists, and advocacy with local and national philanthropic, business and civic leaders. Charlotte Street is also the only organization in the region that grants artists direct monetary support.

Our team was awarded the project after a competitive RFP and interview process in September. We’ve worked extensively with the foundation and owner’s representative Benson Method throughout the design process. Over the last eight months, our team has also lead numerous programming and design charrettes with Charlotte Street artists to comprehensively understand their needs for the new campus.

The campus – a two-building industrial complex – is located at 3333 Wyoming Street and will offer nearly 25,000 square feet of operating and creative space for the foundation. Charlotte Street’s relocation will repurpose the closed, confusing and segregated buildings into a flexible, open, community-focused hub of activity.

The building concept begins with the idea of an artist’s village. There is an energy in a village – a feeling that you are part of something exciting and bigger than yourself. Chance interactions bring new ways of thinking and foster innovation, while individuals can lean on the community support. Like a village, the campus will be home to many unique inhabitants whose collective spirit and knowledge drive the community.

To produce an artist’s village, we focused on connections: artists to other artists; artists to the greater community; artists to the Charlotte Street staff; and artists to the surrounding landscape. The building opens both vertically and horizontally, starting with inserting a main reception that connects the lower and upper terraces. As the new collective entrance to the building, it ensures that everyone passes through the same space, regardless of how they access the hilly site. It serves as a lobby, an incubator, a lecture hall with a large cascading staircase, and the first space for a chance interaction. The artist studio levels are visible from reception, forming the next level of community interaction.

The final step is the insertion of large openings into the windowless industrial building, providing a glimpse outside and connecting the artists to the surrounding community and lush landscape. The result is a continuous internal village streetscape, where artists step outside their studio to find themselves in an active continuous space – one that connects down to the reception, artists’ courtyard and beyond.

The formation of a campus or Artist’s Village will consolidate multiple venues currently scattered across the city into a single locale. The program mirrors the varied discipline of artists that Charlotte Street serves, and will include residency studios, shared maker spaces and resources, a black box theater, white box exhibition space, administrative offices and multiple outdoor terraces. The campus is raw and functional, with focus spaces conceptualized as blank canvases for artists to create. Flexible studios can be adapted to the needs of each individual artist as they rotate in and out of residency. Shared resources will be well-equipped to serve multiple creative mediums. The common, more public areas will be space for the community to engage with artists and their work.

Jon Taylor, Charlotte Street’s board president, told KCUR that the consolidated campus “will offer Kansas City artists new opportunities to build community and collaborate across discipline.” It will also be a catalyst for the city’s arts community. “For audiences, Charlotte Street’s headquarters will serve as an anchor – a place to see and experience the most exciting and innovative work that’s happening in Kansas City,” Taylor said.

The foundation moved its offices to the new campus in October and continues to operate their 2019 programming from a handful of metro area locations. With construction kicking off this summer, current project schedules have the transition of resources to the campus taking place in the first quarter of 2020. We’re thrilled to be working with this inspiring organization to create a world-class artist incubator.

The project team is comprised of Newkirk Novak as general contractor, and 40North is the landscape architect. Engineering support for this project is provided by Lankford Fendler as MEP engineer, Bob D. Campbell for structural, SK Design Group for civil, and FSC for code consulting and fire protection.

View the project here.