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KC honors local sustainability leader

By Tina Moessner

BNIM is changing the landscape in Kansas City and globally with its award-winning sustainable architecture. The leaders behind BNIM have a vision of architecture that goes beyond form and function – it envelops sustainability.

The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce awarded BNIM the 2015 Small Business Award of the Year – the Mr. K Award. The award is given to a business that gives back to the community, has strong employee relations and has a record of business growth. Steve McDowell FAIA, president and CEO of BNIM, accepted the award from president and CEO of KC Chamber of Commerce, Jim Heeter at the award ceremony last week.

“Our young team of designers and leaders are transporting Kansas City values and creativity across the globe by delivering beautiful integrated environments that inspire change and enhance the human condition,” McDowell said. “BNIM is nearly 50 years young and continues to be very focused on making the world a better place.”

BNIM projects that highlight sustainability — locally and globally, include:

Bancroft School, Kansas City, MO

Bancroft_WEEKLYThe Kansas City school was originally built in 1909, and had sat vacant since 1999. The BNIM design team developed an approach that would rehabilitate Bancroft to the highest environmental standard while reconnecting residents to the sidewalk and street life. There was a marked 28.1 percent decrease in crime during the design and construction phases, and the trend continues downward.

The project includes community space and apartments, with the school renovation and additional newly built apartments. The Bancroft School is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certified with a 75 kW solar array that offsets the energy use of public spaces. The design team started with a goal of 32 percent individual apartment energy reductions. The project is outperforming the initial performance goal by averaging energy use that is at least 40 percent below the energy code baseline in the renovated school and new apartments. The energy efficiency features in the apartments include new insulation, restored brickwork and new windows. In addition, Energy Star kitchen appliances, high-efficiency water heating and HVAC systems are used.


The Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity Home of the Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City, MO

Photo: Assissi

Photo: Assassi

Oftentimes, the greenest building is the one that’s already built. The Bolender Center was built in 1913 and used as a coal burning plant.

With its 2011 transformation and renovation, the building features many repurposed design elements. A crane and hook were salvaged as a visual element, coal funnels became pendant light fixtures and coal bunkers are now dressing rooms.


The Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, University of Missouri – Kansas City


Photo: James Ewing

Bloch Hall provides flexible, innovative spaces to meet the specialized needs of entrepreneurial education at UMKC. A single phrase from the school’s Dean shaped the team’s process and the final design: “The path of innovation is never a straight line.”

The building and landscape embody that idea, inside and out. The building expects a 30 percent reduction in energy costs. New materials were reduced when possible by exposing the face of the pre-cast on the interior as well as exposing the structure on the ceilings. Recycled materials, such as glass countertops made from local beer bottles and limestone reclaimed from the site, are used inside and outside. The project is currently on track to achieve LEED Gold certification.

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