Art Enhances Passenger Experience at the Future KCI Airport Garage

Art Enhances Passenger Experience at the Future KCI Airport Garage

In BNIM’s hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, the Arts have shaped and enhanced the public realm. Across buildings, streets, atriums, parks, and public spaces, Kansas City’s displays of public art each bring a unique purpose and artist’s perspective to the community. Over many decades, public art has helped share and continue Kansas City’s story in meaningful and creative ways. As the design of Kansas City International (KCI) Airport Terminal and Garage establishes a new gateway to Kansas City and the Midwest region, art will continue to hold an important role in representing and reflecting the spirit of Kansas City.

Since BNIM’s beginnings, our firm has had the opportunity to be immersed in our city’s Arts community, working alongside the great collection of public art across Kansas City and collaborating with local artists. BNIM’s staff, some of whom are artists themselves, have worked with local arts organizations and artists for many years through both civic roles and BNIM projects, such as the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Plaza Colonnade, and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, among others.


From Left to Right: Plaza Colonnade and Kansas City Public Library and Children's Center, 10@BNIM street level windows at BNIM's previous KCP&L office, Adelaide Cobb Ward Sculpture Hall at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Among Kansas City’s network of organizations for supporting and promoting the arts is the Municipal Arts Commission and programs such as the ‘One Percent for Art’ Program, which dedicates one percent of the construction or engineering cost of municipal projects to public art [1]. The work of the One Percent for Art Program has helped to elevate artists and bring a variety of public art pieces and displays to the Kansas City community. The largest One Percent for Art Program in KCMO’s history, at $5.6 million, is currently in progress with the transformation of KCI Airport Terminal and Parking Garage [2].


KCI Airport Parking Garage rendering by BNIM


Finding New Expressions of Architecture

The One Percent for Art Program has influenced architecture in Kansas City through its creative additions to the design process for municipal facilities, including several BNIM projects, such as the 10th and Wyandotte Parking Garage and JE Dunn World Headquarters parking garage, on which our staff has worked with project partners, civic stakeholders, and artists to support the program’s mission.

In 2015, BNIM’s project team had the opportunity to creatively collaborate with local artist Andy Brayman on the 10th and Wyandotte Garage. The design of the arts-centered parking garage contributes 300 stalls of parking and public greenspace to the city while enhancing pedestrian experience. In this project, Brayman’s ceramic inserts were integrated into the architecture itself, becoming a focal point of the garage and helping demonstrate that parking structure design can be inviting, connective, as well as functional.

Though working with artists on our projects is not a new experience to BNIM, each collaboration brings exciting opportunities to advance a project’s design vision and interconnect the practices of art and architecture. As BNIM associate principal, Josh Harrold describes, “When an artist and an architect work truly collaboratively like that, you find new expressions of architecture.”


10th and Wyandotte Parking Garage- Artistic collaboration with andy brayman


Spaces of Solace in Modern Age Travel

Leading the design of KCI Airport Garage with JE Dunn, BNIM has had the opportunity to be involved in the One Percent for Art program initiative, working with the Municipal Arts Commission and other community stakeholders for the past year on an executive committee to initiate a call to artists to help enhance airport-goers’ experiences through art.

For many, the process of traveling can be stressful. And in the current state of the pandemic, these stresses have become aggravated. Design for the health and safety of individuals is essential to the airport experience and encompasses both physical and mental well-being. Design features such as safety guidelines and signage, security, generous space, and air circulation are important considerations for physical health and well-being, while daylighting, views, and spaces for human experience, such as areas dedicated to art, also nurture mental wellness, offering moments of respite amid busy travels.

A series of art displays throughout the new Garage will focus on a welcoming pedestrian experience. The KCI Garage will feature four pieces that will be focused toward areas of interaction in the Garage’s two prominent west stair and elevator towers and the arrivals and baggage roadway. The call for artists’ submissions welcomes art across different creative mediums to engage the senses through hanging installations or ceiling treatments, murals, or displays on the glass façades.

KCI Airport Parking Garage - Model/Rendering by BNIM: The stair and elevator towers extend all seven levels of the Garage and are 75’ tall or 90’ from roof to lowest level floor. Two art pieces will be incorporated into the stairwells for visitors to encounter as they move through the Garage.

Josh Harrold, BNIM design team member for the KCI Airport Garage, is serving on the executive committee for the One Percent for Art Program. He describes the committee’s work as an in-depth, extensive, and exciting process for KCI. “This is something to be really proud of for Kansas City. It’s been a really incredible process that James Martin and Holly Hayden have run and orchestrated. I think it’s going to turn out incredible results for art at our new airport terminal…”

The first call for artists was released in October 2020, and the second call, which includes the garage stairwells and arrivals roadway as well as the check-in hall and connector area, went out December 18, 2020. For artists interested in learning more about becoming a part of this project, visit Build KCI’s information page for insight into the process and details.

[1] City of Kansas City Missouri (n.d.). KCMO Public Art. City of Kansas City Missouri.
[2] Kansas City Aviation Department. (2020). Public Art Program. BuildKCI.