Kansas City Film Academy

Kansas City Film Academy, 2007
Architectural research at the University of Kansas

Located at the focus of the Crossroads Arts District of Kansas City, Missouri, the Kansas City Film Academy draws formal inspiration from its context. The site is bordered by Southwest Boulevard to the south, two buildings to the east and the west, and a service alley to the north. Two conceptual objects attempt to illustrate the volumetric space of the existing site as defined by its immediate surroundings.

Each of the conceptual objects consists of one single, full frame, dry-mounted black and white photograph that has been augmented to invoke a perception of space. The photographs are scored and folded along specific edges within the image that influence the site, including adjacent streets, walls, and parapets. Each two-dimensional photograph is reconstructed in three dimensions: when held at a specific angle, the dimension of depth is added, and when observed from an obtuse angle, the potential volume of the site is defined.

The conceptual objects and the architecture of the film academy fold the urban fabric as a means to create space without disrupting its continuity. The architecture consists of an urban plane that emerges from the ground and folds at specific moments to serve the program and circulation. In between the overlapping urban plane, the transparent enclosure folds in response to sun shading patterns, optimizing energy use. The program is organized in a specific way to influence the quality of each space. Two cinemas give a unique shape the spaces below, which include a media center and a lobby.

The new film academy integrates the existing vacant building to the east of site, expanding the program. In addition to educational support spaces, the film academy includes a public gallery, a coffee shop and a community market at the street level. The urban plane of the film academy folds up and over the existing building to create a public plaza for students and residents of the neighborhood, particularly in support of the gallery space during First Fridays events.

While physically integrated into the urban fabric through form, the film academy is culturally integrated into the community by its public nature and supportive program. The film academy attempts to exceed the expectations of an urban institution by actively engaging the citizens of Kansas City and providing services that are immediately necessary to sustain and enrich the community.

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