Architecture
9:47 am
Wed September 26, 2012

Broken Glass At The Kauffman Center: Who's To Blame?

It's been a year since the $413 million concrete-and-glass shell-shaped Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Mo. opened to the public.

At night, the glass-enclosed lobby glows red and blue, as the carpeting adds hints of color to the white walls.

But during the day, if you look closely enough on the west side of the building, along Broadway, you'll notice something else: broken glass. A window in one of the top rows of the four-story-tall lobby is fractured.

So, who was responsible? Vandals? Apparently not.

The real culprit: Heat.

A close-up of the broken glass at the Kauffman Center.
Credit Elana Gordon / KCUR

KCUR checked in with Kauffman Center spokesperson Larry Jacob for an update.

When did the pane of glass break?

It was July 6, 2012, says Jacob, when the building maintenance team noticed the glass was cracked.

According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, the temperature that day in Kansas City, Mo. was 105.1 degrees. And there were 13 days in July with 100-degree-plus heat and only two days with highs less than 90 degrees.

How did it break?

Spokesperson Larry Jacob says a combination of “extreme heat this summer and a natural imperfection in the glass" caused the break.

But Jacob says the situation hasn’t caused much disruption. "The glass was designed and tested to shatter into a myriad of pieces and then stay in place until a new pane could be replaced,” he explains. "The glass is designed to keep its integrity even when it does crack."

When will the glass be replaced?

The Kauffman Center ordered a new pane immediately following the discovery. But an order of the special glass, fabricated by Avic Sanxin Co, Ltd. based in Shenzhen, China, takes three months to process. Jacob says installation of the new pane, via mobile crane, is expected during the first week in October.

What's the cost?

Replacing the glass pane requires no payment from the Kauffman Center because 1338 are under warranty. Jacob says the Kauffman Center anticipated "roughly 1% breakage annually" and has a multi-year warranty with the manufacturer.