KCDC students wrap up Kessler Reservoir design study

Curious Kansas Citians turn out for a full house event at Kansas City Design Center (KCDC) during the final open house and celebration for the Kessler Park Water Reservoir Vision Study on May 12. Photos by Bethany Alzanadi

On Thursday, May 12, the Kansas City Design Center (KCDC) hosted the final open house and celebration for the Kessler Park Water Reservoir Vision Study from 5-7:30 p.m. at the Kansas City Design Center at 1018 Baltimore Ave.

The KCDC Urban Design Studio, which is made up of design students for the University of Kansas and Kansas State University, displayed the comprehensive proposal for the three design schemes they created throughout the last year, from analysis to final design details.

The students’ proposals for the transformation of the reservoir turn it into a community-centered public space. To view more details about the project, visit the project page at kcdesigncenter.org/kessler-park-water-reservoir.

In 2014, the KCDC engaged the Kansas City, MO Parks & Recreation Department and related neighborhood groups on the preliminary study for the repurposing of the abandoned water reservoir in Kessler Park. 

The reservoir was built in 1921 on the highest point within Kessler Park to serve the water supply needs for the various industries located in the East Bottoms. It was in operation through 1931 when, due to the cracking of its shell, it was decommissioned and has been abandoned ever since, creating a perplexing spatial scar in the neighborhood fabric resonant in its potential while disturbing in its unclaimed vacancy.

Design students from Kansas City Design Center pose in front of visioning study display.

The preliminary 2015 visioning study generated substantive research on the existing structure and proposed two public use design alternatives which were endorsed by the community and the Parks & Recreation Board as a guiding framework for the pursuit of the repurposing initiative.

Since the completion of the study, the neighboring community has grown substantially in strength and organization, deeming the need for the actual water reservoir repurposing implementation and public realm improvement a priority. The neighborhood approached KCDC in 2019 to conduct the next phase of design development studies, which capitalizes on the previously completed work and engages the community to assert their collective vision and provide basis to pursue means of its execution.

At this time, the project is a visioning study with no funding assigned for implementation. However, there is a comprehensive Kessler Park Master Plan in the works thanks to the Hoxie Collective. Read more on that in next week’s issue of the Northeast News.

Northeast area business Howards Farm & Kitchen, owned by Pendleton Heights residents Craig Howard and Cory Imig, catered hourderves for the final visioning study event.

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