Star Magazine

‘I’ is for ice houses, inspiration and more

Here’s another entry in our elemental, alphabetical guide to Kansas City’s built environment. Find previous pieces of the series in “Architecture A to Z,” published by Kansas City Star Books.

Ice houses

When the Central Ice Co. first got going in the early years of the 20th century, it was one of two dozen or so ice dealers in the vicinity of downtown. The history of the company and this building, in the 2000 block of Campbell Street, intersects in ensuing years with some prominent names. Those include

Howard Vanderslice,

who took over Central and formed the City Ice Co. in 1907 and later donated the former August Meyer residence and eight acres of land for the Kansas City Art Institute, and the 7-11 Co., whose founders bought City Ice after World War II.

There are still ice suppliers in our midst, of course, but the rise of air conditioning and modern refrigeration changed the course of the industry and set the stage for another example of

adaptive reuse

. After a recent renovation, City Ice now houses an art gallery, office lofts and a community produce operation.

Similarly, the former U.S. Cold Storage Co., a 450,000-square-foot brick complex built in 1922 at 500 E. Third St., has in recent years been transformed into the residential

Cold Storage Lofts

. With 13-inch walls and 77 miles of chilling pipes inside, the building took six months to defrost before the $35 million renovation could begin in 2005. The developer, Gary Hassenflu, also worked long and hard to defrost the U.S. Department of Interior, which eventually allowed him to punch 142 large windows through the formerly blank walls and retain eligibility for historic tax credits. The project later won a historic preservation award in 2007 from the National Housing Rehabilitation Association.

Industrial design KEM Studio

of Kansas City landed a second-place silver in the 2012 Industrial Designers Society of America’s international awards program for this project at the entry of the Town of Kansas pedestrian bridge. It’s a seating area, bike rack and rain garden at the foot of Main Street near the Missouri River. Materials include ipe, a Brazilian hardwood, and powdered steel. The award, in the Environments category, put the local firm’s effort in the company of projects in New York; Seoul, South Korea, and elsewhere.

Inspired, inspirational space

When developers converted the high-rent Sulgrave apartment building to condos a decade ago, the renovation included a new entry on 49th Street, which also served to connect the Sulgrave and the Regency building next door. Another result of the design, by Stephen Abend and his former firm of ASAI (now part of PGAV), was this three-story waterfall on 48th. In this summer’s heat, the little known water feature, set back a bit from the street, has risen to the top of my list of favorite Kansas City fountains. Its quiet, subtly terraced concrete setting contrasts with the roar of the water and reminds me of some of the great architectural works by Louis Kahn. The more you look, the more you might appreciate this as one of the most inspired quasi-public spaces around.

It’s like a little pocket park, says Sulgrave co-developer Brad Nicholson. He addied that the waterfall complements the modernist building above, though residents early on did not universally embrace it. The water feature also connects to a garage-top garden, Abend notes, and serves to link the neighborhoods to the south and north through its 50-foot topographical drop.