Kansas City, MO

The old Kansas City Power & Light Building in its Art Deco design is an apartment building now with a grand interior

CJ Coombs

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Kansas City Power and Light Building, Kansas City, Missouri.Charvex, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Kansas City Power and Light (KCP&L) Building

The old KCP&L Building is one of Kansas City's skyscrapers located downtown. This construction of this building was completed in 1931 and is one of the buildings you see on the city's skyline. The east side of the building faces the popular Power & Light District.

KCP&L building history

The force behind KCP&L was Joseph Franklin Porter. In 1917, he was made the president of Kansas City Power & Light Co. and he held that position for 22 years. He hired the architectural firm of Hoit Price & Barnes to design a building to contain all the offices of the company. This architectural firm also designed the Kansas City Museum known originally as Corinthian Hall, the estate that belonged to Robert A. Long.

You notice as the building grows taller, stepbacks were added which is an architectural design on upper stories where a story is pushed in towards the center of the building (similar to a telescope--narrower at the top and wider at the bottom). In other words, the building tapered off at the top. There are a few stepbacks on the KCP&L building. The Art Deco style (popular in the 1920s to 1940s) and the building's ornate rooftop lantern made this historical building somewhat iconic.

The tapering design was not just for aesthetics: a 1923 city zoning ordinance, modeled on that of New York City, required that tall buildings use stepbacks to allow sunlight to penetrate to the streets below. (Source.)

The inside of the building with its ornamented ceilings and marble walls was as grand as the exterior design. The building is 31 stories tall and on top is the crowning, a 97-foot-high pillar that has lights that change colors.

The KCP&L offices had most of the first 19 floors. The remaining space was leased by other tenants. KCP&L also took care of its employees by dedicating the fourth floor through the seventh floor as places to go for entertainment--for example, there was an auditorium with equipment for movies. Everything was plush and functional. There was also a gymnasium and a medical department. The 32nd floor was the observation deck that had balconies on each of the four sides.

As time moved on, changes occurred. The auditorium was remodeled to convert into an accounting department. The gymnasium was made into a lunchroom.

In 1991, KCP&L left the building. In September 2014, the last tenant of the building left. In the following month, there were plans initiated to convert the building into apartments. The project was led by NorthPoint Development. There are 210 apartments in the historic building called Power & Light Apartments, including 81 units that were added which were built above the parking garage serving the building. The lobby of the building is an event space that will hold up to 500 guests (see the below image during construction). It is now the tallest residential building in Missouri.

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Power and Light lobby under renovation during its transformation into a residential apartment building.Brit By Birth, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Photo taken 2016.

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Multi-genre writer and indie author with a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. My working career has been in law firms. Thinker, giver, and lover of life and retired early to be a writer. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, reading, history, true crime, travel, and research.

Kansas City, MO
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