Kansas City, MO

Iconic Kansas City landmarks: the design legacy of Kivett & Myers

CJ Coombs

Updated with necessary title change.

Aerial view of Arrowhead Stadium, part of the Truman Sports Complex, Kansas City, Missouri.Photo byIchabod, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Clarence Kivett's and Ralph Myers' firm, Kivett & Myers, designed many Kansas City landmarks, including the now old Kansas City International Airport, the Truman Sports Complex, and the Alameda Plaza Hotel (now referred to as the Ritz-Carlton).

Clarence Kivett's birth name was Kivovitch. He changed his last name after 1928 when he graduated from the University of Kansas. He was a year old when his family moved to Kansas City.

Kivett lost a job in 1931 mostly due to lack of work during the Depression. He opened his own office. He took on small remodeling jobs. Interestingly, his uncles were Ike and Mike Katz who ran the Katz Drugstore at Main Street and Westport Road.

Kivett earned his first large commission from his uncles by creating the art deco design on the pharmacy which was later taken over by Osco Drugs. The Katz Drugstore also had the unique clock tower.

In 1940, Ralph Myers partnered with Kivett. Some of the other buildings and landmarks their firm can take credit for include the following:

  • Missouri State Office Building, Kansas City, Missouri (renamed Fletcher Daniels State Office Building in honor of politician, Fletcher Daniels)
  • Missouri Pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair
  • Macy's department store in downtown Kansas City
  • Temple B’nai Jehudah at 69th and Holmes (as of 2000, new building is at 12320 Nall Avenue in Overland Park, Kansas). Kivett was also a B’nai Jehudah member.
  • Spencer Chemistry and Biological Sciences Building on the UMKC campus (1968)
  • Fairmount Kansas City at the Plaza (1972), now known as Intercontinental Kansas City at the Plaza
  • Mission Hills Country Club in Kansas (1955)

The firm's significant commissions were in the late 1960s and early 1970s in designing the terminals and control tower at the now old Kansas City International Airport (MCI), and the Truman Sports Complex which houses two separate stadiums for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Kansas City Royals (now Kauffman Stadium). Burns & McDonnell, engineers, were also hired alongside Kivett and Myers to work on design concepts for the airport.

Kivett & Myers mentored young architects. Before their firm was acquired by HNTB Architects in 1975, they received many design awards. Kivett was active on the Kansas City Plan Commission, the Municipal Art Commission, and the Kansas City Art Institute’s Board of Directors.

Clarence Kivett died on December 3, 1996, at age 91. He and his firm left a lasting legacy in Kansas City. His influence continues forward with the lives of those he mentored. Of interest, there were 50 firms that emerged off of the firm's influence. Material associated with the personal and professional life of Kivett are housed at the University of Kansas.

Ralph Myers was a graduate of the University of Illinois. He partnered with Kivett for over 30 years. Together, they created modern and diverse structures in Kansas City. Myers died on December 3, 2007, at age 90.

Thanks for reading.

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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, and I retired early so I could be a writer all day. You could say I'm from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri because I was born into the Air Force life. I love family, art, reading, history, true crime, travel, and research.

Kansas City, MO

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