In The Loop: June 26, 2022
Your connection to Downtown Kansas City
With the World Cup coming to Kansas City, one thing is for certain: Nobody really knows exactly how it will affect our city or our region. Some believe it will bring immediate and dramatic economic benefits; others believe it will be a drain upon taxpayers and marginalized community members.
A Bloomberg opinion piece from last week looks at the larger picture, however, pointing out that Kansas City may already be the “biggest winner” among the World Cup host cities. Could little ol’ KC become the new destination for migrating Americans seeking affordable living in a city now re-imagining itself?
“For the other 10 American host cities, the World Cup will be a month-long party. For Kansas City, it's an opportunity to capitalize on the growth of the new heartland and to stake its claim as the cultural hub of the region.”
Check out the full article in the “Links” section below entitled “The World Cup's Biggest Winner May Be Kansas City.”
And now, on the The Loop….
Renowned Architect Louis Curtiss born in 1865
This Friday marks the birth date in 1865 of Louis Singleton Curtiss (one “s” in Curtis when he was born; he added the second “s” in 1887), once referred to as "the Frank Lloyd Wright of Kansas City." Curtiss wasn’t originally a Kansas Citian; he was born in Canada and moved to our city in 1887 where he set up shop as an architect with Frederick C. Gunn about two or three years after arriving. A decade later, Curtiss left the partnership with Gunn to do his own work.
Despite helping create the face of Kansas City with many buildings that remain standing here today, not a lot is known about Curtiss the man—and that was quite possibly by his own design. His educational background cannot be confirmed by the institutions he supposedly attended (the University of Toronto and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, in Paris), he never married nor had children to cast light on his private life, he refrained from speaking publicly or giving interviews, and at one point his will requested that all of his personal papers be destroyed when he died. His final resting place, in Mount Washington Cemetery, is an unmarked grave.
An article in Places Journal questions why such a brilliant architect was so unheralded, and includes this description of the man:
“All available accounts paint him as eccentric and outside the mainstream, flamboyant even, a dandy bedecked in flashy all-white outfits and a pince-nez, chain-smoking custom-made cigarettes that he ordered from a New York manufacturer in lots of 10,000. He was an early devotee of the motorcar, president of the local Automobile Club, and a notably fast and reckless driver. He employed a large and unusual vocabulary and often used to it to make grand pronouncements. He paid his rent in gold coins, before moving to an opulently furnished, Oriental-themed downtown Kansas City apartment/studio building of his own design. He held séances and fussed with Ouija boards.”
In a biographical profile for Missouri Valley Special Collections, author Susan Jezak Ford wrote:
“The architectural genius of Louis Curtiss might easily have been overshadowed by his personal flamboyance…. Yet his legacy of buildings remains truly recognizable by their style and innovative designs.”
Among his buildings still standing in Downtown Kansas City are the Virginia Hotel at 11th and Washington, the Progress Club at 1051 Washington, Sacred Heart Catholic Church at 2544 Madison Ave., the Argyle Building at 306 E. 12th (he designed only the first four floors), the Folly Theater at 300 W. 12th, and his own residence and studio at 11th and McGee.
He’s best known for the 1909 Boley Clothing Company Building, 1130 Walnut, because of its ground-breaking exterior-wall design. Prior to Boley, solid exterior walls, only punctuated by windows, served as load-bearing elements for buildings. With Curtiss’s metal-and-glass curtain-wall design, one of the first in the world, the exterior walls were “hung” on the outside of the load-bearing structure to allow large areas of relatively unobstructed glass.
A department store in Germany had a similar curtain-wall design before Boley, and an earlier building in Cleveland may have used a similar concept—but it collapsed without leaving behind much information—so Curtiss’s Boley Building Downtown is generally considered the most historic (if not the first) of all curtain-wall designs in the world.
By 1914, coinciding with the outbreak of world war and the death of his patrons Wiliam Rockhill Nelson and Bernard Corrigan, Curtiss’s business diminished, and he spent his remaining years mostly designing houses, many of which still serve as homes around Kansas City to this day.
Curtiss, having become increasingly reclusive by most accounts, died exactly one week before his 59th birthday, on June 24, 1924, at his drawing board inside his studio on McGee Street.
Bloomberg writer Conor Sen lives in Atlanta. He wrote this of KC: “Much like Atlanta landing the 1996 Summer Olympics, Kansas City's World Cup hosting turn should be a growth engine benefiting the city that straddles both Missouri and Kansas, as well as the entire heartland region.” Read the full article here:
Development news is happening in the River Market/Columbus Park area again, and Kevin Collison of CitySceneKC is on top of it, as usual. Here are links to what’s happening with three residential projects near the City Market, another in Columbus Park, plus a small building renovation near 4th and Grand (the latter not being a CitySceneKC story).
The Third and Grand apartment-and-retail project in the city-owned parking lot near Cold Storage Lofts still has some procedural hurdles, but developers hope to win necessary approvals and begin construction in nine months.
The Ashland Project apartment-and-retail project just across from the River Market North streetcar stop and south of Chinatown Food Market has a new owner, and hopes to get started later this year.
In January, Collison wrote about a 13-story apartment and retail tower proposed by Flaherty & Collins of Indianapolis, planned for the parking lot immediately west of Minsky’s in the City Market.
A residential proposal of 10 townhomes, 10 apartments, and a duplex on the southern side Columbus Park near Troost and Pacific has won committee approval. If the full council approves, developers hope to have the project done in early 2024.
And finally, a two-story building located east across Grand from the Arabia Steamboat Museum, is getting a minor face lift. Built in 1925 as the home of Ralph Hurst Poultry and Egg Company—supplier of dairy products to the Forum Cafeterias and other establishments—the current owners have submitted plans to the city for 407 Grand with a completion date of late July.
No link—just a couple photos:
A collaborative program—the 2021 Kansas City Black History project—has earned the Kansas City Public Library and two institutional partners, the Local Investment Commission (LINC) and the Black Archives of Mid-America, the nation’s top award for the preservation of state and local history.
Two Kansas City art-installation projects are competing for an international design award through CODAWorx, a global online community that celebrates design projects featuring commissioned artworks. The People’s Choice Awards for the 2022 CODAawards runs through this Thursday, June 30, and wants your input. The two Kansas City installations in the Top 100 (and where you can vote with a thumbs-up) are at these links:
Artful City: One weekly selection with a Downtown connection
Quick Clip: The city in motion—just a few seconds at a time
Downtown Lens: A single image depicting the urban aesthetic
Answering the question “Who are all these people and where are they going?”, The Loop brings you a list of some of the biggest events happening Downtown each week. Please give a friendly Downtown-Kansas City welcome to audiences and attendees of….
Ain’t Too Proud - The Life and Times of the Temptations, final performance at the Music Hall
Sebastian Maniscalco at the Midland
Kansas City Symphony presents Ode to Joy: Beethoven's Ninth, final performance at Kauffman Center
Titanic continues through July 3rd at the Music Theater Heritage
THURSDAY the 30th
Miller Lite Hot Country Nights at KC Live! Block in P&L
FRIDAY the 1st
DJ Pauly D at KC Live! Block in P&L
SATURDAY the 2nd
Red, White, & BOOMbox at KC Live! Block in P&L
For a more exhaustive list of everything happening Downtown, go to the VisitKC events page and use the “regions” function to search for Downtown, Westside/Southwest Blvd, West Bottoms, River Market, Power & Light, Crown Center, Crossroads, 18th & Vine—or anywhere you want to go in the KC Metro
Until next week—enjoy the city!
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Kansas City, MO 64105
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