Architecture Highlights at the Kauffman Center

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

An in-depth look at the Kauffman Center's architectural features inside and outside the facility

Exterior Architecture
Moshe Safdie, architect for the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, wanted the viewer to see music and movement in every angle. 

The stainless steel rods along the building's southern exterior use tension to help support the structure, but architect Moshe Safdie also wanted the rods to mimic the strings of an instrument.

The acid-etched precast concrete along the east and west exterior is dyed to blend with the many limestone buildings found in the Kansas City area.

Considered an extroverted building, passersby can always see the activity inside the facility and are therefore welcomed to join the experience.

Designed to “take root” in and represent its surroundings, the Kauffman Center’s rolling, reflective arches mirror the rolling plains of Kansas and Missouri.

With colorful projections on the northern exterior's bead blasted stainless steel curves, the building takes on a new energy.

With music and movement as the architectural inspiration, the precast concrete and stainless steel arches mimic the bell of a brass instrument.

The Kauffman Center glitters at night as it sits between the business and arts districts, bridging the gap between the two cultures.

Brandmeyer Great Hall 
As the primary lobby space for the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Brandmeyer Great Hall stands out for its architectural interest, unique materials, and sweeping views of Kansas City.

Architect Moshe Safdie wanted Brandmeyer Great Hall's white color scheme to function like an empty canvas where the guests serve as the moving and talking artwork.

While Brandmeyer Great Hall is primarily white, the lobby does feature some pops of color with blue carpet in front of Helzberg Hall and red carpet for Muriel Kauffman Theatre.

Brandmeyer Great Hall's bold architectural features and sweeping views of Kansas City provide a beautiful backdrop for a wide range of gatherings, from weddings to yoga classes.

Brandmeyer Great Hall features 17,500 square feet of limestone floors and more than 48,000 square feet of low-iron glass. It contains 1,396 panes of glass each weighing between 600 and 800 pounds.

Columns and cables support the heavy glass walls of the atrium, casting rhythmic shadows and patterns on the glistening white floors and walls.

Even the interior rooms of the Kauffman Center mimic the exterior slants, as pictured here in the Founders’ Lounge, the on-scene dining experience of the Center.

The beautiful Portuguese limestone floor reflects the setting sun.

Red carpet pops against the white walls and glittering glass walls in Brandmeyer Great Hall.

Brandmeyer Great Hall transforms in the evening as the stark white floors and columns glisten against Kansas City's Crossroads Arts District in the background.

Brandmeyer Great Hall's clean and white features make a perfect canvas for bold and colorful lighting at special events.

Day or night, Brandmeyer Great Hall is full of visual interest designed to make the community feel welcome.

Helzberg Hall
The Kauffman Center's symphony hall is designed to maximize acoustical integrity with curves that mimic the building's exterior architecture. 

Helzberg Hall's circular shape allows each of the 1,600 possible audience members to sit within 100 feet of the stage, so each person can experience the performance intimately.

Helzberg Hall, designed for acoustic sound, features three different kinds of wood: red oak on the floors, douglas fir on the walls, and Alaskan yellow cedar on the stage.

Acoustician Yasu Toyota commissioned a 1/10th scale model of Helzberg Hall to test acoustics prior to construction. Toyota is pictured here inside the model with previous Kauffman Center CEO Jane Chu.

With all the curves and layers of wood, architect Moshe Safdie wanted guests to feel like they were walking into the hull of ship or the inside of a cello.

Muriel Kauffman Theatre
The Kauffman Center's proscenium theatre was designed for a wide range of performances including ballet, opera, and amplified concerts.

The 1,800 seat theatre features glittering ballustrades made from cast resin, LED lighting, and crumpled mylar.

Theater designer Richard Pillbrow wanted to bring the audience closer to the stage than traditional auditorium-style seating. 80% of the seats are within 100 feet of the stage.

Muriel Kauffman Theatre's vibrant colors and glittering lights create a welcoming environment for audiences.

Colorful murals along the side walls draw the eye toward the stage. The murals were designed and painted by students at the Kansas City Art Institute under the guidance of architect Moshe Safdie.

Architecture Honors
The Kauffman Center has been recognized as one of the most striking theaters in the world. Architectural Digest named it “The Most Beautifully Designed Theater” in Missouri (2018) and Emporis called it one of the “World’s 15 Most Beautiful Concert Halls” (2014).
Credits: Story

Images provided by Tim Hursley, Steve Mohlenkamp, Ellie Fehlig, Alistair Tutton, Jillian Shoptaw, Cody Boston, Anna Petrow, Mary Beth Russell, Mark McDonald, Chris Crum, Eli Photography, Laurie Hernandez, Melody Rowell, and Cork Creative.

To learn more about the Kauffman Center's venues and architecture, visit

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.