OFFICIAL - Flashcube (720 Main)

Issues concerning Downtown as described by the Downtown Council. River to 31st Street, I-35 to Bruce R. Watkins.
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bones.25
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Re: "Flashcube" Building - 720 Main

Post by bones.25 »

Fantastic pictures TLG, here and all the other threads!! Thanks for posting. I'm very curious to see how this project turns out.

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DaveKCMO
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Re: "Flashcube" Building - 720 Main

Post by DaveKCMO »

Construction fence on Main:

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TheLastGentleman
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Re: "Flashcube" Building - 720 Main

Post by TheLastGentleman »

This is a link to the National Register form about this building's designation. I recommend reading it and then contemplating life, the universe, ect.

https://dnr.mo.gov/shpo/docs/moachp/Exe ... ilding.pdf
The Executive Plaza Office Building at 720 Main Street in Kansas City, Missouri, designed by
Hellmuth, Obata, and Kassabaum (HOK), is locally significant under National Register Criterion
C for the area of Architecture as a property possessing high artistic value. It also complies with
Criteria Consideration G for properties that have achieved significance within the last fifty years.
Its period of significance, 1972 to 1974, corresponds to its period of construction.

The building is exceptionally significant in the area of architecture as an expression of the ultimate evolution
of the Modern Movement curtain wall. The building’s glass curtain wall is set in a continuous
and repetitive grid pattern with no relation to structural proportions identifying individual floors.
Mullions with a minimal profile and reflective glass panels create a fluid glass curtain wall that
emphasizes the rectangular volume it encloses. The lack of scaling devices distinguishes this
design from earlier examples of Modern Movement architecture and evolves the curtain wall
beyond the previous “skin and bones” relationship of curtain wall to structure.

The Executive
Plaza Office Building’s uninterrupted, smooth, reflective surface notably lacks any
ornamentation. The exaggeration of a single element, in this case the curtain wall, for the
purpose of dramatic visual effect characterizes this building as Late-Modern. The Late-Modern
architectural expression appeared contemporaneously with other architectural styles that were
diverging from the previously-dominant Modern Movement. The Late-Modern glass container
building, achieved with a continuous glass curtain wall wrapped around a frame, was a highstyle precursor for a building form that later became ubiquitous as corporate office buildings in
the 1980s and 1990s. The Executive Plaza Office Building’s dramatic design was the first
continuous grid, Late-Modern glass container building in Kansas City’s metropolitan area. It is
an exceptionally significant example of the glass curtain wall evolved to its purest form as an
enveloping glass skin. The influential design was unparalleled at the time in the local built
environment and became a template for later ubiquitous urban and suburban office buildings
that mimicked the progressive aesthetic.

The Executive Plaza Office Building is an exceptionally significant example of a Late-Modern
glass container building embodying stylistic elements that represented and influenced new
directions during a progression away from Modern Movement architecture in the early 1970s.
Affectionately nicknamed the “Flashcube” for its similarity to the anachronistic attachment to
period cameras, the building exemplifies a uniquely Late-Modern unintended humor.57 The
striking form and Late-Modern curtain wall of the Executive Plaza Office Building serve to
amuse by visually responding to its surroundings as a distorted and reflective volume. It
represents a departure from the rational Modern Movement commercial buildings that preceded
it and is distinctive from concurrent styles. The influences of the Late-Modern glass container
building are perceptible in the later Corporate Modern buildings that imitated its form. The
Executive Plaza Office Building is an exceptionally significant embodiment of Late-Modern
architecture in Kansas City. It retains integrity and is recognizable as an early glass container
building thoroughly articulated to express an aesthetic ideal.

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ToDactivist
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Re: "Flashcube" Building - 720 Main

Post by ToDactivist »

who'd a thunk?

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FangKC
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Re: "Flashcube" Building - 720 Main

Post by FangKC »

or "The Executive Plaza Office Building is a simple glass curtain wall attached to a steel and concrete frame. Its' minimalism is an attempt to save money on design, and provide the maximum square footage, and adequate conditions for human work.

Its' historic value is exceptional only in the sense that it was approved several years before the standard 50-year age limit. This in an attempt to make it eligible for historic tax credits it would not otherwise receive--likely depriving an arguably a more-deserving building from receiving the limited number of historic credits granted each year. This description is just the standard mumbo-jumbo architectural historians use, but applied like lipstick on a pig."

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chaglang
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Re: "Flashcube" Building - 720 Main

Post by chaglang »

Aaaand this is why listings based on aesthetics are so fun.

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ToDactivist
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Re: "Flashcube" Building - 720 Main

Post by ToDactivist »

agreed as it goes to extreme detail to highlight items no one can see or appreciate or matter. what a stretch. in the end this will most likely fail economically due to poor aesthetics vs other alternatives nearby....just because you can, does'nt mean you should...

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chaglang
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Re: "Flashcube" Building - 720 Main

Post by chaglang »

Regardless of when it's submitted, the argument that it represents a stylistic shift still holds true. And the NPS and/or SHPO is always free to reject these arguments. Personally, I like it - it's a weird building, but it's more interesting to me than many buildings that have received some kind of incentives or another. Its location on the fringes of a sea of parking might make it somewhat unappealing but it's right on the streetcar line and certainly, buildings don't rent out in order of attractiveness. So who knows. People live in Centropolis, after all.

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Re: "Flashcube" Building - 720 Main

Post by shinatoo »

I'm against credits for this ugly ass building BUT...

Historic is not a synonym for Good. It is for important. And if it was the first, or early, example of this shit box style, then it is historic.
Quocunque Jeceris Stabit

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DaveKCMO
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Re: "Flashcube" Building - 720 Main

Post by DaveKCMO »

chaglang wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 4:14 pm
People live in Centropolis, after all.
=D>

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TheLastGentleman
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Re: "Flashcube" Building - 720 Main

Post by TheLastGentleman »

I honestly don't have many issues with the building being saved; I couldn't care less. At least it won't be vacant. HOWEVER, my concern is simply that it was listed on the national register at all. That sets a very very bad precedent.

It's the equivalent of Centropolis being listed as historic in the year 2063 for being an exceptional and remarkable and significant example of early 21st Century New Urbanist Historicism. It would join the National Register of Historic Places for its memorable features, such as the big sign which says, "CENTROPOLIS ON GRAND" in stylized text, as well as expertly applied stucco veneer. Also, the only way it can get the historic incentives is if they maintain the appearance of the building as close as possible to its period of significance; in this case 2016. That means they can't modify the building's banal suburban exterior without risking part of their funding.

This effectively freezes the building in time, unable to adapt and improve.

"But what about how we modified the outsides of old buildings in the past and then realized it was a bad thing?"

Those buildings drew architectural merit from ornamentation and high quality materials, things which if removed or covered compromised the architectural integrity of the building. Look at Oak Tower or the Palace Clothing Building.

Centropolis completely lacks these characteristics. Its facade has no ornamentation outside of a bit of simple trim, and the material is of mediocre quality, save for some decent stone veneer at the base.

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chaglang
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Re: "Flashcube" Building - 720 Main

Post by chaglang »

I’m not sure how to “improve” the exterior of Flashcube building without destroying the reason it’s called the Flashcube building in the first place. Like Oak Tower, the building’s whole significance is linked to its original exterior materials. It’s not everyone’s taste, but it is a building that is an excellent example of a shift in architectural thinking that eventually influenced both banal things (corporate campus architecture like Corporate Woods) and inspiring things (the Bloch addition at the Nelson).

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Steve52
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Re: "Flashcube" Building - 720 Main

Post by Steve52 »

FangKC wrote:
Sun May 19, 2019 10:26 pm
or "The Executive Plaza Office Building is a simple glass curtain wall attached to a steel and concrete frame. Its' minimalism is an attempt to save money on design, and provide the maximum square footage, and adequate conditions for human work.

Its' historic value is exceptional only in the sense that it was approved several years before the standard 50-year age limit. This in an attempt to make it eligible for historic tax credits it would not otherwise receive--likely depriving an arguably a more-deserving building from receiving the limited number of historic credits granted each year. This description is just the standard mumbo-jumbo architectural historians use, but applied like lipstick on a pig."

Don't forget this type of architecture (the glass box) was born in the era of cheap and abundant fossil fuels while we are on the subject.

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normalthings
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Re: "Flashcube" Building - 720 Main

Post by normalthings »

Steve52 wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 8:39 am
FangKC wrote:
Sun May 19, 2019 10:26 pm
or "The Executive Plaza Office Building is a simple glass curtain wall attached to a steel and concrete frame. Its' minimalism is an attempt to save money on design, and provide the maximum square footage, and adequate conditions for human work.

Its' historic value is exceptional only in the sense that it was approved several years before the standard 50-year age limit. This in an attempt to make it eligible for historic tax credits it would not otherwise receive--likely depriving an arguably a more-deserving building from receiving the limited number of historic credits granted each year. This description is just the standard mumbo-jumbo architectural historians use, but applied like lipstick on a pig."

Don't forget this type of architecture (the glass box) was born in the era of cheap and abundant fossil fuels while we are on the subject.
Protect our historic car infrastructure!

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TheLastGentleman
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Re: "Flashcube" Building - 720 Main

Post by TheLastGentleman »

chaglang wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 6:33 am
I’m not sure how to “improve” the exterior of Flashcube building without destroying the reason it’s called the Flashcube building in the first place.
That's the point. The building would be improved, as an apartment building, with new balconies, operable windows, ground floor retail, ect. That can't be done, however, without sacrificing the historic tax credits. That's why, in reality, all the glass will be replaced with identical glass and the building will look exactly the same indefinitely.

This whole situation is bad because it makes freezing buildings in time the most economically viable option and cheapens the significance of the national register. It effectively means that all buildings are worth preserving exactly as they are, since the flashcube is about as close as we can get to an objectively bad building.

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chaglang
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Re: "Flashcube" Building - 720 Main

Post by chaglang »

It’s interesting that the preservation community looks at this more broadly than many urbanists do. I recognize that this existence of this building is an affront to the current mode of urbanist thinking. But if it’s an apartment building full of tax-paying city dwellers, doesn’t that represent both a victory for downtown KC and a broadening of thought on what constitutes a useful urban building? I argue yes to both of those. The checklist you cite as a sort of prerequisite for a good urban building makes me think that such a broadening of thought is needed. You’re starting to sound like those old modernists who bulldozed cities on the basis of their manifestos. ;-)

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Re: "Flashcube" Building - 720 Main

Post by shinatoo »

chaglang wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 6:35 pm
It’s interesting that the preservation community looks at this more broadly than many urbanists do. I recognize that this existence of this building is an affront to the current mode of urbanist thinking. But if it’s an apartment building full of tax-paying city dwellers, doesn’t that represent both a victory for downtown KC and a broadening of thought on what constitutes a useful urban building? I argue yes to both of those. The checklist you cite as a sort of prerequisite for a good urban building makes me think that such a broadening of thought is needed. You’re starting to sound like those old modernists who bulldozed cities on the basis of their manifestos. ;-)
+1
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FangKC
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Re: "Flashcube" Building - 720 Main

Post by FangKC »

I agree with TheLastGentleman. There is an argument to be made not to use historic tax credits for this building so that you can modify it to be more attractive to residential tenants. Adding balconies, inset patios, and windows that can be opened seems to be something that merits discussion.

In the past historic tax credits were used primarily to restore features and ornamentation of older buildings that would otherwise be too expensive to preserve. It would be easier to remove those attributes entirely, and modernize the building. The tax credits were to reimburse the developer for the extra cost of maintaining the ornamentation, or expensive features like period light fixtures, or an art nouveau cage elevator. Or to prevent the developer from simply demolishing a building and building new.

You can still fill the building with taxpaying citizens, and not use historic tax credits to do it.

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TheLastGentleman
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Re: "Flashcube" Building - 720 Main

Post by TheLastGentleman »

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hgascoigne
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Re: "Flashcube" Building - 720 Main

Post by hgascoigne »

Noticed this sign up outside while waiting for the streetcar.

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