We’re hiring an Executive Director for the Kansas City Design Center (KCDC)

The Kansas City Design Center is an interdisciplinary, teaching, research, and outreach center focused on the Kansas City Metropolitan Region. KCDC strives to advance the application of design by addressing the most important issues affecting our urban environments.

The KCDC is entering the next phase of its strategic growth and development. In order to facilitate this forward momentum, KCDC has redefined the role of the Executive Director and is seeking qualified candidates to fill this critical leadership position. The current Executive Director, Vladimir Krstic, will transition to Director of Academic Programs to focus on academic program leadership of KCDC.

The Executive Director is a contract position and a key management leader of KCDC, a non-profit organization, and is responsible for overseeing the administration, programs, and strategic plans of the organization. Other key duties include fundraising, marketing and community outreach. Please see the full job description here.

To refer any candidate or to ask any questions about the position, please contact the search firm: Jane Walton Consulting, LLC, Jane Walton President, jane@janewaltonconsulting.com, 816.898.6929

Another year complete!

Prospect Avenue Nodal Study is wrapping up this week! Monday was the final studio review for the project and Thursday is our Open House for the final project. Click here for more information on the Open House, we’d love to see you there!


In reflecting on the project, as a class we have learned new skills and a new perspective that will help guide us in the future.

We learned to push one another towards stronger designs.
We understand that research is never finished
We refined our ability to express our ideas both verbally and graphically
We know to always edit, and then re-edit, and then edit one more time
We recognize how to communicate with our peers as teammates
We have the ability to take charge and lead when necessary
We realize the importance of understanding the views of people who live in the places our project touch
We made progress in connecting with community members and people shaping the future of Kansas City
Lastly, we learned how to listen

This project was most importantly an academic study of the Prospect Avenue Corridor, but it was also much larger than that. Throughout the process it became an invitation to be excited about the future of the corridor and an opportunity to look at Prospect Avenue as a place with boundless potential.

And with that, congratulations to all of the students on finishing the third phase of the project and congratulations to all of our seniors who will be graduating on Saturday! We wish you all the best.

The final leg of the studio project comes this summer— two KCDC students will compile the comprehensive project publication about the Prospect Ave research, process, and outcomes from the 2018-2019 year. Look out for the hard copies and digital copies in the Fall!

Keep Pushing the Design

From the Dream The Combine artist lecture to our second community engagement meeting, KCDC students have had a busy start to spring.

We welcomed Jennifer Newsom and Tom Carruthers of Dream The Combine to the KCDC on April 2nd for a guest lecture. They termed themselves ‘makers’ that are ‘partners in work and life, [they] create site specific installations exploring metaphor, imaginary environments, and perceptual uncertainties that cast doubt on our own understanding of the world’. Jennifer and Tom presented a number of projects and discussed the overlap in art, architecture, and cultural theory that their work exemplifies. They attempt to disrupt assumed dichotomies and manipulate the boundary between real and illusory space through this process. You can visit their website to check out more of their work.

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With the design development phase of the Prospect Avenue Nodal Study nearing completion, students are striving to bring a level of detail to the project that can make the study both feasible and friendly on a more human scale. The KCDC students were joined by several design professionals for a review of their work last Monday. It was helpful to receive feedback from designers and professionals that had an outside perspective, and from this experience each group heard suggestions on what they were doing well and what needed to be pushed further or edited. The positive comments from the reviewers were encouraging as the students continue working on their designs.

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Riding on the success of Monday’s review, the KCDC students prepared for the second community engagement meeting at the Gregg/Klice Community Center on Thursday. There was a great turnout of community members that were excited to learn about the student’s efforts. Many were concerned about the future of their neighborhoods, and the students were able to engage them in our design process. They shared their vision for the revitalization of the corridor and were passionate about seeing their community grow and prosper. This transparent communication was a great step in continuing to foster a partnership between the city and the local community as The KCDC strives to shape a positive future for Prospect Avenue.

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Learning to Live with Water- A Visit with Internationally Renowned Architect Matthijs Bouw

“We must use the things we learn to change the ways we build our cities” were the final words of Dutch architect Matthijs Bouw at his lecture last Thursday. These were inspiring words for the audience and us, the students of the Kansas City Design Center, who hope to make a difference as we near graduation and enter the field of professional architects, landscape architects, and planners. We are lifelong learners in a world that is experiencing accelerated change, and we are ready for the endeavor of designing a society that works with the people and the environment.

The Big U

The lecture Building Resilient Cities: Water as Leverage for a Better City examined the future survival of cities, particularly against extreme storms and sea level rise due to climate change. Bouw presented the unknowns of the changing climate and answered how humankind can adapt to this period of drastic change. Bouw explained that in his home country of the Netherlands— a country that is defined by its relationship to water— there was a period of time where the approach to this relationship was strictly to protect the city against water. This strategy included a series of costly dams and caused ecological devastation. Bouw saw the lesson in this and instead began to ask, what if we design and engineer structures that work with the water instead of against it? He called for designers to learn and invent different ways of building with nature. This concept of working with the natural force of water influenced BIG U, a collaborative project with One Architecture (Bouw’s firm), BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), and others. This project incorporates ten continuous miles of infrastructure that builds the coastal resilience of Lower Manhattan against rising sea levels and climate events while also connecting numerous diverse neighborhoods. The BIG U was designed in response to an initiative of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force and HUD, known as Rebuild by Design. The design prioritizes the city’s connection with the water, creates vibrant spaces for recreation, provides nature-based solutions for stormwater, and utilizes urban water storage. To see more about this project, check out this video. If you want to hear the full lecture given by Matthijs at the KC Public Library last week, you can listen here.

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On Friday, we had the opportunity to hear Matthijs’ perspective and advice on our current project, Prospect Avenue Nodal Study, during a studio visit. He challenged us to think of flaws and employ them to ‘create ingredients for successful development’ as well as engage with the community— building their story and the story for our concept.

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We were happy to have the opportunity to host Matthijs Bouw and attend his engaging lecture as well as receive attentive feedback on our project. We hope he enjoyed his visit to KC and his first experience of Arthur Bryants BBQ (he ordered the burnt end sandwich, by the way).

Snow Days = Work Days at KCDC

Despite the many snow days that everyone in the KC area has been experiencing, here at the KCDC (as Vladimir would say), ‘The project must continue’. We are now about a month and a half into the semester and as we move into week 7 we are gearing up for some exciting events!

Recently we have had a number of community engagement opportunities. We had our first experience inviting Community Leaders from the Prospect Avenue area to the KCDC to check out our project . The gallery style event allowed us to really get a sense of what those that live and work along Prospect Avenue see for the future of this prominent corridor. Many of them were a wealth of knowledge about what was needed, what had worked in the past, and the challenges that we may face as we look towards the future. We collected as much information and critique as we could from the community members and now begin to close the door on the conceptual stage of the design process.

public review

We also had our first major design review last week and presented the conceptual stage of the project. We welcomed six design professionals to provide feedback on the project thus far. All four nodal groups (our two most southern groups— Prospect Hospital and Prospect South— have joined forces for a comprehensive approach to their zones) presented their overall concepts as well as preliminary design strategies for their respective nodes. You can see some of the presentation action below.

Professional reviews

Looking forward:
As we continue working through the snow days and sub zero temps, we have even more exciting things coming up. Tonight the KCDC has partnered with K-State and the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art to co-host a lecture with Fuensanta Nieto at 6:00pm. We also are very excited for our first off site community meeting that is happening tomorrow night (March 6th) at the East Patrol Police Station located at 2640 Prospect Ave. We are hoping to meet even more community members from the Prospect Ave area and work with them as we head into the design development stage of the project.