Located on a five acre site, the Moshe Safdie Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is finally done and ready; after years of work and tribulation, the doors are at last opened to the public. The building itself is pure art; the land surrounding the building will be used for outdoor performances and as a public gathering space.
Entering the Center, one feels like walking through art to watch art; the north elevation of the building, facing downtown Kansas City, features a series of arched walls covered in stainless steel that rise from the ground like a wave. From its crest a curved glass roof provides the Kauffman Center’s Brandmeyer Great Hall with panoramic views of Kansas City. The amazing glass wall and roof are anchored by 27 high-tension steel cables, evocative of a stringed instrument.
Architect Moshe Safdie states: “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 have a number of access balconies fronting on the Brandmeyer Great Hall, forming two conical stacked rings of white plaster. People interacting before and after performances and during intervals, are theatrically visible to one another.
The building was designed and built with the purpose of being visually striking; and yet it holds an intimate experience for both audiences and performers. The audience is seated around the stage instead of in a traditional horseshoe configuration; this arrangement brings the audience closer to the performers than in would in traditional auditoriums set ups. A flexible orchestra pit configuration and the ability to adjust the stage opening width make the theater adaptable for both intimate and large-scale productions.
The 1,600-seat Moshe Safdie Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts will be the performance home of the Kansas City Symphony as well as host to well-known international soloists and ensembles.
Architect Moshe Safdie has collaborated with Richard Pilbrow of Theatre Projects Consultants and Yasuhisa Toyota of Nagata Acoustics America on the design of the entire building, which will share backstage facilities, including dressing accommodations for over 250 performers, as well as 11 rehearsal and warm-up rooms. The Center has been designed so it can accommodate future expansion along the east side of the building.
The Moshe Safdie Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts will provide performance homes for three of Kansas City’s premier performing arts organizations and keep them unified under one roof. The Kauffman Center’s resident companies will include the Kansas City Ballet, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and the Kansas City Symphony.