19 December 2016

The Other Side of the Tracks

Google seeing you!
The Shining City on the Hill
Kansas City MO (Part II)

12th Street Viaduct, March 2015, overlooks the West Bottoms.
(all photos derived from Google Street View)
Leaving West Bottoms for higher ground, perhaps by way of the famous 12th Street Viaduct, we are soon in a position to look down on the site of the Union Depot (see part I) and its associated haunted landscapes.

Overlook at corner of W10th and Kirk Drive
(Google Street View, November 2016)
Heading in the other direction, towards the city center, the view is much different. The approach features the expected architectural flourish or two.

Archway,  March 2015
(click link for original Google Street View)

archway series, October 2016

elaborate grand entrance, November 2016

All of the above examples are things one finds in most urban centers. Reflections, however, are the outstanding unique feature of Kansas City architecture. These are not all carefully planned, as architects cannot predict the future any better than anybody else. Some, however, are calculated to feature or emphasize certain building details at certain times of year or day.


Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, November 2016
Out of the shadows comes the light. The golden dome of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception throws some very special light on the cross in November.

For the casual observer, it can be hard to determine which visual delights are planned and which appear by chance. While the majority may pass by without notice, those of you who pause for a moment to observe your surroundings are in for a special treat. In some cases, you need not even take your eyes off the pavement to experience a unique perspective.

No windows? No problem! Borrow them from your neighbor.
Borrowed windows, October 2016
For those who do glance upward, however, Kansas City architects have created a special treat.

Canyons of creativity, November 2016
With Google Street View, you don't "have to be there" to experience visual sensation, you are there! 
Typical for an American metropolitan center, new buildings reflect their surroundings. Architects guide your eye to their creations, sometimes by showing you the works of others in a new light...or shadow, as with the example below.

Shadow play, October 2016
Curiosity at work! Click the link to see if you can find the buildings profiled here.
Kansas City architects are masters of their craft, as your approach to their creations will attest.

Hint of what is to come, November 2016
The old West 12th Street Viaduct takes you from West Bottoms' warehouses to this  grand entrance to downtown.
Stop here November 2016
Contemplation suggested. Remember? As a kid you eagerly ran to climb up flights of stairs.
As an adult you react differently. Your playmate stairs are now obstacles.
Time for reflection!
Angular feast, November 2016
Light is the focal point. Click the link to savor this one!
Mirrors not only reflect images, but they also throw light, redirecting it into spaces that might otherwise be featureless shadow.

Lightfall, November 2016
A waterfall of light descends this building, courtesy of its reflective neighbor.
The effect is pronounced with the low angle of the sun at this time of year.
There are times when so much is going on that it's hard to keep your mind focused on your daily tasks. When visiting Kansas City on a sunny day, be prepared for surprises. Visual distraction is guaranteed!

A light for everyone, November 2016
Pay attention! One of these is just for you!
As you explore Kansas City, you will no doubt find a favorite location or two. As far as light play goes, here's a favorite building of mine that does it all.

See me? October 2016
The architect did. (UMB Bank)

UMB headquarters October 2016
Surprise! October 2016
Are all of these images reflections?
Click the link & sneak around the block to find out!

Grand finale, October 2016
This last building does it all. Inspired by an earlier design by architect I.M. Pei, Abend Singleton Associates Inc. (lead architect Stephen Neil Abend) received an award for the design of this building. A mere glass box was not enough for this architect. The employer demanded more and the architect delivered nooks and crannies and glass and projections and colored glass and the surprise above. The architect's employer gets the last word (for the time being as I'm looking for more information about all these buildings):

YouTube ~3min.