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Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Monday 09 Jul 2012

Taking centre stage

Timothy Hursley 
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08/01/13 nazim, saransk
Super genial, belle architecture!

Award Entry

Involved since project conception, Arup helped translate architect Moshe Safdie's ambitious vision into reality 

Customized engineering solutions enabled a complex form while providing an optimal acoustical environment inside the performance halls.

The design called for a glass-enclosed atrium connecting the two main performance halls to one another and the city beyond. To support the need for transparency, Arup's structural engineers designed a cable-supported glass roof, enabling a column-free space. Nonlinear analysis and form-finding were used to balance the effects of gravity, wind, snow and other conditions and determine the most structurally efficient shape for the cabling. Splaying the external rods out from the centre rather than running them straight out from the building provided structural stability, allowing for the elimination of cross-bracing on the curtain wall - a significant aesthetic benefit.

Arup's fire and structural teams worked closely together to eliminate the need for fire protection on the external structural supports. Commonly available fireproofing solutions are expensive and bulky. When shown a sample, Safdie immediately turned to Arup and delivered his verdict: "Make these go away!" The engineering team developed digital models demonstrating that using high-strength rods instead of cables would allow for the elimination of fireproofing. The result: a clean, sleek structural system whose functional parts - such as the striking boomerang plates that connect the cables near the roof line - contribute to the elegance of the architectural design.

Using cast-in-place concrete for the internal halls and steel for the exterior shell and support spaces also proved beneficial. By cutting months off the construction schedule, this tactic significantly reduced expenses. Each material also provided advantages for its area of use: concrete is less prone to vibration, which is beneficial for concert hall acoustics; steel is better at resolving tension, and therefore a better choice for supporting the cable net system.

Key Facts

Status Completed: July 2011
Value 0(m€)
Were you involved in this scheme?
Arup (New York Office)

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