The City Market, Kansas City, Missouri


previous image|next image

Description: Located in downtown Kansas City, Missouri's historic River Market district, the site of the original riverfront settlement, The City Market is a complex of vintage structures built from 1920 to 1950. It is comprised of year-round restaurants, retail specialty food establishments, novelty retail shops and open-air "sheds" that are occupied during the growing season by local farmers selling home grown fresh produce. The City Market has recently begun to thrive with a new mix of permanent food and food related tenants, a full capacity farmer's market and it's increasing use as an entertainment venue - a result of the district's increase in popularity as a place to live, work and play.

PWA was first charged with developing a master plan that reflected the changing needs of the market's tenants and the needs of the increasingly residential neighborhood surrounding it. Through the facilitation of a series of workshops with City staff, the City Market management company, tenants, and other special interest groups, a list of needs were developed and project goals established. Improved circulation, better accommodations for both tenants and customers, graphics, lighting, and updated shop-fronts in addition to various maintenance and tenant planning needs were identified as necessary in the making of a more attractive and inviting City Market. These project goals were then prioritized and conceptual budgets established for an itemized list of projects. This then became the road map for the design team in moving forward.

Included in this list of improvements were: 1) developing a comprehensive Master Plan for the whole of the six block site; 2) restroom improvements and ADA upgrades; 3) new graphics and signage; 4) addressing historic building issues; 5) new main entrances from the east and west parking lots; 6) new tenant store fronts; 7) new shade structures; 8) parking lot improvements; 9) new building additions connecting the existing facilities; 10) fire protection and life safety, and; 11) general building maintenance.

One of the projects identified as a top priority in the City Market master plan was the addition of two new pedestrian entrances that would provide a connection between the existing east parking lot facing Grand Boulevard to the open air sheds in the center of the City Market. To accomplish this, Piper-Wind Architects designed two pedestrian lobbies that cut through the existing two-story building that separated the parking from the open air sheds. These new pedestrian lobbies were architecturally delineated by a sloped glazing roof that extends the full length of the lobby - thus creating a clear visual link and discernable path from outside to inside to the interior market square.

These new entrances were considered very significant improvements to the City Market as it created a dramatic new front door facing Grand Boulevard. While accommodating the practical function of providing entry points through the City Market's large eastern most building, these entrances provided two new access points for pedestrians at what previously had been a series of truck docks and service bays. This new connection to Grand Boulevard - the main roadway for Kansas City from the Riverfront to the Country Club Plaza - was a deliberate gesture to allow the City Market to face outward - reflecting the fact that the blocks on which it sits has four sides. Similarly, as development and activity grows around the market understanding that people will be coming to the Market from all sides and not just one.

The design of the new entrances was in concept based on the shapes and forms that already existed at the Market. The roof slope of the new sloped glazing matched the roof slope of the existing open air sheds. To solve the change in elevation between the existing parking lot and the floor of the new pedestrian entrance lobbies (originally accommodating truck loading docks) Piper-Wind designed ADA accessible ramps as an integral part of the entrance facade.

One of the challenges of the design and construction of the new entrances was the need to protect a very busy, successful and rare historical artifact museum located directly below one of new entrances. Special considerations, including museum security, dust, noise and vibration control, thermal and moisture protection (the museum has vary stringent requirements of temperature and humidity control which must be maintained in order to preserve their artifacts), and phasing of construction so as not to disrupt the museum daily operations were undertaken in the design and construction documents to assure that the museum would not be adversely effected by the construction.

During the design phase Piper-Wind Architects, Inc. worked closely with consultants to develop construction cost estimates and then verified at the end of the construction document phase. This effort led to the design team's construction cost estimate to be within 2% of the successful bid for the project.

Additional projects at the City Market which have thus far been developed include: 1) a comprehensive graphics program - tenant signage and design standards, way-finding and general identification, including the redesign of the historic entrance arch; 2) a new transit center / parking facility and a pair of cornerstone pocket parks - which serve as a gateway to the adjacent riverfront district; 3) the planning / preliminary design of a high density mixed use residential district on the City's adjacent surface parking lots to the west; 4) the creation of new shade structures inside the market square and next to the existing arcades, cantilevered over the existing sidewalks, which provide additional outdoor market space for permanent tenants, and; 5) the refurbishment of the first of the three open air market structures, including an all weather enclosure which effectively expands the season in which weekend vendors can sell their wares.

Engaged by the City of Kansas City, Missouri's City Architect's Office, Piper-Wind Architects served as the executive architects for all improvements to the complex. These projects, among others, have resulted in a master plan of over $12 million in construction projects which are being implemented over a ten year period.