Moshe Safdie

In 2013, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., embarked on a project to discover “the most compelling American art being created today.”

Over a period of about 10 months, museum president Don Bacigalupi and assistant curator Chad Alligood crisscrossed the country. They traveled more than 100,000 miles — by plane and car — and stopped in the homes and studios of nearly 1,000 artists.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

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.

photo: Laura Spencer/KCUR

The concrete-and-glass shell-shaped Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts opens tonight. And it's been almost two decades in the making.

Kansas City, Mo. – A bit of giddiness was in the air at a media preview yesterday - tempered by awareness of the work ahead.

With her bright blonde hair, and tailored pink suit, Julia Irene Kauffman, in her trademark throaty voice, describes how it all began.

courtesy of Safdie Architects

There are two Moshe Safdie-designed projects in Kansas City: the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, slated to open September 16th; and West Edge, an office and hotel complex near the Country Club Plaza that's been plagued with problems. A construction dispute, bankruptcy, and changes in ownership stalled the project for nearly three years.

photo: Laura Spencer/KCUR

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts will hold its grand opening in mid-September, but finishing touches are already well underway, from the installation of the 5,548-pipe Casavant Freres organ in Helzberg Hall, to the addition of decorative touches in reception suites, to the finishing of the parking garage.

Kansas City, Mo. – (Up to Date, August 5, 2011)

Listen to the broadcast here.