Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
Project Title
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
Alternate Titles
Kansas City Ballet Center
Composed of a proscenium theater, concert hall, and banquet hall and located in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, the Kauffman Center serves as a catalyst for social, educational, and economic vitality in the city and the region. One of the most technically and architecturally advanced performing arts spaces in the nation, the center enables its presenters and resident companies to stage more sophisticated work, encourage interdisciplinary collaboration, and foster interaction between different audiences.

The enveloping structure of the complex—a series of undulating, vertical segments of a circle—forms the northern container of the theater’s stage, concert hall, and experimental theater. As these elements ascend they create a segmented, gently curving crown to the building. From this crest the roof descends in a curve, following the toroidal geometry of light cables, metal, and glass toward the south. The roof intersects with an outwardly inclined and curved glass wall, which contains the foyer with a southern view. The tensile forces of the suspended glass foyer roof are counteracted by cables that tie the structure to anchors at the entrance terrace. The curved, segmented northern walls are sheathed in silvery stainless steel and punctuated by perpendicular, limestone-colored precast-concrete walls that are acid-etched.

The stainless steel roof over the performing halls changes to glass over the foyer. The glass enclosure opens the foyer to dramatic views of the sky and skyline. At night, seen from the exterior, the glazing disappears and reveals the dramatically lit theater facades and activity within the public areas. Veneer plaster clads the theater facades, detailing the continuous curved, stacked balconies. The lobby bars, located above the foyer, form sculptural shapes visible through the glass structure as well.

Images on this page: 1 View of north façade; 2 Site and lobby level plan; 3 Structural diagram of building shell and roof cables; 4 Early concept sketches; 5 Concept sketch

Kansas City, Missouri, United States of America

between 2000 and 2011
Completion Date
Client: The Metropolitan Kansas City Performing Arts Center, Inc.;

Cost: US $304 million;

Size: 33,073 sq m (356,000 sq ft)

Project Type
Safdie Architects
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