Falling Into Place

It's difficult to fathom that the Scarritt Renaissance Vision Study project is drawing to a close, but the last few weeks have indicated that it's true: third professional review, a public meeting with Scarritt residents, and preparations for the next project have all signaled the impending conclusion to the project. 

Students have spent the past few weeks fleshing out and honing down designs for four different sites within the Scarritt Renaissance neighborhood. They range from small single-family infill projects to multi-story mixed-use complexes, all heavily considering the previous research and feedback from the neighborhood. Before presenting their designs to the neighborhood, the students did a practice run with design professionals -- some of them alumni of KCDC. 

Eric Janes of the KCDC Studio explains the major conceptual moves his team made in order to land at their current design for a rowhouse typology in Scarritt Renaissance. 

Critiques are helpful not only for the students who designed the project, but also for students who are not designing the project, as they can learn about successful moves and areas of improvement that may be indirectly relevant to their current or future designs. 

The feedback they get from professionals is very different than the feedback they'll get from residents. Professionals, who have an eye for design and process, tend to see the spaces and functionality of a design; Residents, who have insight on the inner workings of their neighborhood, tend to ask how the design will affect them or their neighborhood. Both aspects are incredibly important to creating a successful building, which is why KCDC held a public meeting at the North East Public Library to present their designs and ask Scarritt residents what their thoughts were on the project. 

The public meeting was a good chance for students to explain and receive feedback from residents on our various design proposals for the Scarritt Renaissance neighborhood.

While the students have been working tirelessly on the Scarritt Renaissance project, they've also been simultaneously starting the early phases of their next project, which will be focused on the West Bottoms. In order to learn more about this industrial and historic area, the students have been touring the grounds alongside local artist James Woodfill. Further, they listened in on a public meeting led by Phronesis and KEM Studios on their proposals for an improved streetscape and wayfinding system in the West Bottoms, focusing on green infrastructure and contextual design. 

KCDC students visited a public meeting on Phronesis and KEM Studio's proposed Streetscape Plan and Wayfinding Plan for the West Bottoms in preparation for their next studio project.

Back at KCDC, another guest lecturer spoke on a unique yet logical approach to urban infrastructure. Martin Felsen of UrbanLab presented Bowling, which is an ecological approach to design that utilizes the shape of a bowl to collect, clean, and channel water systems. The bowl can be at the scale of a small outdoor space or at a region-wide scale to address water flows. The concept has already been applied to projects and cities, such as Changde, China. 

Martin Felsen of UrbanLab held his lecture titled Bowling. 

Our open house event on December 8th at 5pm will open up our doors to the public to showcase the finished designs for the Scarritt Renaissance Vision Study. Come and join us for refreshments and good design talk!

Soon after, the students will embark on their much-anticipated trip to Portugal. In Lisbon they will tour with and learn from Gonçalo Byrne, an accomplished Portuguese architect and the 2016 KSU Regnier Chair. Following their return, you can anticipate seeing many beautiful photographs of their trip that'll just make you jealous :)


Schematic Yet Democratic

Check out our aerial video of the Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood

The ripping of trace paper, the wild strokes of pens, and the bing of mental light bulbs are all sounds that are common at the Kansas City Design Center lately. For the past month, students have been further investigating the existing situations and the design possibilities for the Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood in Northeast Kansas City. 

The students have met up with the Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood Association and other stakeholders to finalize their overall concept for the neighborhood. To do this, they identified six main goals that they want to achieve that would improve the neighborhood. 

students asked for stakeholder feedback by actually marking their comments on maps

In order to get a better grasp of the scope of their vision plan, KCDC students identified specific areas in the neighborhood that have the most issues and therefore the most potential. Before they can get down to the nitty-gritty of architecture design, they must first figure out their urban strategies. 

To identify our urban strategies, we listed the problems and solutions that could solve the social, cultural, or physiographic issues of the neighborhood through architecture.
— Kylie Schwaller


This is just a small fraction of the numerous facets they're studying, all in order to give themselves constraints to start their schematic designing within. After conjuring up iterations of schematic designs for their chosen sites, the KCDC students will host another review with the Scarritt Renaissance stakeholders. Sparking a dialogue with the neighborhood will give the students valuable feedback to refine their design propositions. 

Among other happenings at the Kansas City Design Center include a public lecture by Tom Campanella. Titled "American Curves: Nature, Race, and the Origins of the Modern Highway," Campanella spoke about his research and findings on an incredibly influential man, Madison Grant, a leader in the conservation of nature whose efforts to conserve park space created the first parkway, which was the earliest concept of a highway that we know of today.  

Tom Campanella speaking of "American Curves: Nature, Race, and the Origins of the Modern Highway"

Look forward to hearing more on the students' work after their stakeholder meeting with the Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood Association, as well as more information as they start to delve into their newest project: Creative Placemaking in the West Bottoms. 

New Students and a New Vision for Scarritt Renaissance

Overview of the Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood and Kessler Park.

Overview of the Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood and Kessler Park.

The fall semester is full of possibilities as a new set of students are settling into the KCDC studio. This time, nine architecture students and one landscape student are joining forces to develop a revitalization plan for the historic Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood

Scarritt Renaissance is home to the famous Kessler Park and Cliff Drive, which offer amazing panoramic views to the East Bottoms and ample green space for soccer, disc golf, and other activities. Among the greenery is the Concourse and Colonnade, a popular meeting ground for the neighborhood's families. Children enjoy running through the fountain or using the playground while their parents socialize. 

However, it's not all fun and games in the neighborhood. Many residents have concerns about the growing number of vacancies, crime, and homes in disrepair. The KCDC students are researching the neighborhood and developing a revitalization plan by working closely with residents, the Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood Association, the Kansas City Planning Department, and other organizations.  

To finish up the month of August, the KCDC students presented their preliminary findings on the neighborhood at the Kansas City Museum. They will take the feedback from the neighborhood association and continue to identify local assets and areas in need of improvement. 

Kylie Schwaller and Travis Snell present various maps and diagrams to explain the studio's data and discoveries about the Scarritt Renaissance neighborhood. 

Expect a great project from these eager and fresh students! To keep updated on their progress follow the Kansas City Design Center here, on Facebook, and on Instagram. 

KCDC Studio at the Kansas City Museum.
Left to Right: Jessica Carson, Courtney Minter, Travis Snell, Taylor Allen, Drew Lindsey, Connor Privett, Isaiah Naives, Julia Guerra, Eric Janes, Kylie Schwaller, Kevin Madera, Hannah Hackman, and Professor Vladimir Krstic.