urban design

Tim Samoff / Flickr--CC

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has filed documents with the city of Kansas City, Missouri, to officially establish a new Master Plan District. The museum submitted an application on Friday to request rezoning some museum-owned properties from residential to non-residential. This would allow for additional uses, such as office space. 

Designing and planning an urban landscape is about more than just figuring out which building goes where, and John Ruble should know. His architectural firm has taken on projects around the world that he hopes will serve their host cities for years to come.

The American Housing Act of 1949 reshaped Kansas City in enduring ways, but was it for the best? Local historian Michael Wells, who works in the library's special collections department, examines how the law changed the metro's infrastructure and how its effects are felt today.

Michael Bentley / Flickr

A quiet debate is raging over liquor licensing laws in the Crossroads District. Does it matter, to the character of a neighborhood, what time bars and restaurants issue that famous last call? If you don't have to go home but you can't stay here, what are your options, and who's making those choices?


MoBikeFed / Twitter

Kansas City's bicycle infrastructure is in the midst of an overhaul. But progress can be slow. Every year, KCUR's Central Standard does a check-in, to see how it's going. This year, it's all about turning miles of added bike lanes into continuous routes. Plus, a Kansas City cyclist's fatal collision raises concerns about safety. Why are accidents on the rise in Missouri?


As the time comes for old suburban developments to reinvent themselves, one community after another has questioned the conventional wisdom that big box stores are desirable anchors for retail. Is Kansas City part of a trend?


This city was founded on a geological anomaly called a rock ledge. Surrouded by cliffs and gorges, no less.  Back then, what we now call downtown Kansas City was dense wilderness. A geology professor explains.


  • Richard J. Gentile, professor emeritus of geology, The University of Kansas
Drawn by A. Ruger. Merchants Lith. Co. Published by Madison, Wis., Ruger & Stoner - This map is available from the United States Library of Congress's Geography & Map Division / Wikipedia

Through a series of formal steps, it sometimes happens that a public street leaves the city's ledger to become part of a private development. One concerned citizen worries about the city losing its soul, one block at a time, in the process.


Laura Spencer / KCUR

Nearly 70 buildings were demolished on Kansas City’s east side to make room for a new police station and state-of-the-art crime lab. The $74 million Leon Mercer Jordan Campus, funded by a city public safety tax and bonds, opened to the public with tours of the facility at 2640 Prospect Avenue on Tuesday. 

La Citta Vita/Google Images -- CC

The cul-de-sac has long been a symbol of the suburbs. But now, it's a polarizing feature of urban design. Is it an oasis where kids can play safely or an isolating feature that prevents us from meeting our neighbors?

We examine how cul-de-sacs came about and how they influence life in KC.


Single people play an increasingly significant role in a city's social fabric. But is Kansas City a good place to live the un-coupled life?


  • Bella DePaulo, author, How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century and Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized and Ignored and Still Live Happily Ever After
  • Andy Limpic
  • Taylor Miller
Gina Kaufmann / KCUR

In 1966, the Kansas City Board of Trade Building was new. Then it got old. Now, the iconic modern structure is getting a makeover. How do you transform an iconic piece of architecture, and what's the state of modernism in the Kansas City area?


Caroline Kull / KCUR

  The Kansas City Council has endorsed a plan to make part of Troost Avenue more neighborhood friendly.

The plan, which received unanimous approval Thursday, lays out a set of design standards for commercial and residential development along the corridor — from 22nd Street to Brush Creek Boulevard.

Fear Factor

Jul 6, 2015

Kids are riding bikes less and less. Some of that has to do with parents' fears, and some of it has to do with a shift in community design (after all, you can only get so far in a cul-de-sac). Parents swap stories, strategies and concerns about getting the elementary-school set back in gear.


An update on plans to repurpose about 30 vacated schools in Kansas City. Plus, the challenges, joys, and enduring impact of finding new uses for buildings that have outlived their intended functions. The transformation of gas stations, old theaters, churches and post offices.

Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious / Flickr

Central Standard's annual check-in on Kansas City's attempts to become a bicycle-friendly town. News, obstacles, progress reports and more. Plus, voices and stories from Missouri's Katy Trail.

Patrick Quick, KCUR

Recently in Columbus Park, some folks built a pop-up/DIY skate park in an underused portion of a city street. Why do people go outside the typical building process, with its system of permits and bureaucracy, and how do these projects benefit a community? How common are they and how have they turned out? We explore the organic, under-the-radar, grassroots building projects around the city.


Americasroof / Wikipedia

Westport has always been at a crossroads. So says urban design specialist Daniel Serda, noting that the historic neighborhood has been changing since its beginnings. But news of three chain restaurants entering the neighborhood where prime parking spots now stand has sparked a heated response, not just from Westport residents and business owners, but people throughout Kansas City who are passionate about the entertainment district.


Kansas City is full of beautiful old homes, albeit in need of a little TLC. Investing in a home that's listed on a historic register or located in a historic neighborhood brings a closer connection to the city and its history, as well as a unique set of challenges.


Ari Moore / Creative Commons, Flickr

The front porch is an American institution. It's an ideal place to wind down with a cool drink on a summer night. But this familiar scene is all-too-easy to take for granted.

On the occasion of Kansas City's inaugural PorchFest, a music festival bringing 70 bands to residential porches, Central Standard takes a look at the history of the American front porch. We also visit with the festival organizer to hear about the bands bringing West Plaza porches to life this weekend.


Jean / Flickr, Creative Commons

A recent article in the New York Times compiled a growing body of evidence suggesting that the more frequent our interactions with strangers, the happier we tend to be. The findings apply to introverts and extroverts alike. In response to the enthusiasm around that article, Central Standard asked whether the people of Kansas City encounter strangers often enough in their day-to-day lives. Does Kansas City's built environment facilitate or prohibit these kinds of interactions?

Mike Calasnic / Creative Commons, Flickr

Shopping malls across the city and across the nation are closing their doors or re-imagining their futures. With the recent closure of Metro North and a meeting called to gather community input on redevelopment possibilities for Metcalf South, Central Standard convened local experts to look back on the significance of the shopping mall, in our city and in our lives. 

For decades, Troost Avenue has symbolized racial separation, income disparity and vast differences in home value as well as frequency of crime. But it's only a street. And at one time, it happened to be quite a prosperous street.

Hosted by Monroe Dodd, this discussion explores the specific decisions, both national and local, that laid the groundwork for Troost's transformation into a major metropolitan divide. Personal stories from a longtime resident contribute to this conversation.  



Apr 8, 2012

More than half the world’s population now lives in an urban area, and 75 percent will call a city home by 2050.