The Botwin Building

The Botwin Building in Kansas City, Missouri by el dorado architects

Photographs are by Aaron Dougherty.

For the site of the Waldo Theater, a historic structure which burned down in a 2007 fire, el dorado architects designed a 12,500-sf (1,160-sm) mixed-use commercial building for Botwin Family Partners. Located in Kansas City, Missouri's Waldo neighborhood, the client is focused on neighborhood sensitive commercial development and sustainable design. The architects have become the go-to designers for the Botwins, creating buildings and build-outs throughout Kansas City and elsewhere.

For the client's eponymous building on West 75th Street in Waldo, principal-in-charge Josh Shelton and project architect Steve Salzer filled the site vacated by the old theater with two rectangular buildings connected by a second-floor bridge. The L-shape plan creates an urban corner condition, relating to the existing neighbor while also siting parking at the building's rear. The gap between the two buildings provides access to this parking as well as the elevator. Stairs to this upper level are accessed from the street.

The fairly straightforward plan locates the stairs, bathrooms and other service elements away from the corner, creating as much continuous storefront glazing as possible on the first floor. The second floor cantilevers beyond this glazing, helping to shade the first floor interior spaces (wood-slat trellises also accomplish this) but more importantly creating a space adjacent to the sidewalks. This subtle urban gesture gives a strong presence to the building and allows for the extension of the first-floor spaces into the public realm outside via sliding walls.

Perhaps the most distinctive part of the design is the second-floor facade, designed with artist Anne Lindberg. Different colors of patterned glass in vertical bands wrap the two volumes. These areas provide shading and alternate with clear glass incorporating operable windows for natural ventilation. Another sustainable feature is the planted roof, with some subtle site planting still to take hold. Simple yet bold in its varying degrees of transparency, it's a welcome addition to the Waldo neighborhood.