In the mid-sixties, the owners, the Lerner brothers, contacted the original architect, Morris and his associate, Robert E. Sixta, to design an addition, with a billiards room, locker room and an ice skating rink.
Morris said regarding the addition, "we tried to stay away from the commercial building look, and tried to find warmth and a casual feel for a fun-time place." As you can see from the rendering below the entry has been moved to the south of the building and ample parking has been added, it appears that the current parking lot is larger than the footprint of the building, a testament to the days before home video games...we all went to King Louie!
The distinctive folded plate roof was designed to "hide the mass of what was under it," Morris added. You can see this same approach in the architect's work on the Jewish Community Center, at 94th and Wornall, KCMO. By sinking the large ice skating rink below grade, the architect was further able to disguise the mass of the addition relative to the low original building...you might recall, when it was built, the roof on the ice rink was covered with volcanic stone aggregate. The interior of the newer ice rink is highlighted by a dramatic free spanning wood strucure that frames the buildings folded roof. This structure prompted the rinks nickname "The Ice Chalet"...the skating rink floor, etc. was removed a few years ago.
This buiding is a rare remaining example of Googie architecture in Johnson County, Kansas. When asked about the style of the building the architect added, "there was definately a Frank Lloyd Wright influence in shapes, materials and the metal and stone spire at the entrance." The informed observer can see the influences of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West and the spire of Wright's Marin County Civic Center. The building in it's present form was completed in 1965. Let's hope it has a great future and survives the proposed "remaking" of the Metcalf corridor!
Here are a few sketches by Ralph Rapson of the Kawneer Store Front of Tomorrow Design Competition that he and David Runnells submitted. I think that the influences of Alvar Aalto are even more apparent in these sketches than the final presentation we showed previously. The bundled column to the right of the first drawing and the biomorphic, free form, floor platform and dropped ceiling are right out of the Aalto design vocabulary. I also really love the sketches by Ralph Rapson. He had an amazing hand.
Special thanks to Ralph's son, Toby Rapson and Grandson, Lane Rapson of Rapson Architects for giving us permission to use these images.
For more images like these read, Ralph Rapson: Sixty Years of Modern Design by KCMODERN friend, Jane King Hession.
Ralph Rapson and David Runnells designers, Bloomfield, Mich.
In contrast to the First Honorable Mention, the design was not only competent but brilliant to the point of fussiness. The group shopping lobby, the store front and free-standing displays, the large 'controlled lettering,' the small scale signs, the structural details, and choice of materials are excellent.
"In particular, the jury liked the detailed store front -- where the 'open-faced' shop is partly hidden by a screen wall used as a background for the show window. Often an open interior may reveal that the store is empty of customers, thus scaring away possible shoppers. Here the partial openness gives and interesting glimpse of the interior combined with a good foreground."
"However, the designers did not know when to quit. Their plan, with its elaborate system of angular walls and glazing is as 'busy' as the strained tilting of the same walls in elevations."
"The designers apparently assumed a parking lot to the western end of the store group plot; this was considered permissible within the program."