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Archive for Sunday, January 28, 1990

TO REVITALIZE UNION STATION AREA

January 28, 1990

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Glen LeRoy knows exactly how many hours his students spent in the fifth-year urban design studio he teaches at Kansas University: 7,350.

LeRoy simply multiplied the number of students, 13, in his studio by the number of hours each student spent during the semester in Kansas City helping develop a design for the downtown convention area.

The students were "hired" by the Committee for Union Station, a not-for-profit organization concerned about the future of the second-largest rail station in the United States. The station, built between 1910 and 1914, was closed to train travelers in 1983 and boarded up in February 1989.

The students' "job" was to devise a plan to strengthen Kansas City's convention area, including Bartle Hall, Crown Center and Union Station.

Their proposal, "MainLink: The Convention Center/Union Station Connection," will be unveiled Thursday at Bartle Hall.

AFTER DOING hours of research on similar convention areas in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Dallas and Indianapolis, the students devised a plan to use Bartle Hall as the northern anchor to bridge the gap between the downtown and the Crown Center convention hotel.

Union Station's part in that plan involves making it, Crown Center and Penn Valley Park the southern anchor. The students recommend using existing buildings for space for the arts.

"It is our belief that these two buildings can't stand alone," LeRoy said of Bartle Hall and Union Station. "A great city is more than great buildings. A great city means great districts."

To create such a district, the students encourage increasing the number of hotel rooms in the area, expanding Bartle Hall and installing a light rail transit system.

ABOUT 60 OF THEIR drawings will be on display for the public showing of their project Thursday and an audio-visual presentation also will be given, LeRoy said.

"It's good for the students, and it's good for Kansas City," said LeRoy, a KU associate professor of architecture and urban design. "We moved the studio to Kansas City six years ago because our school is called the School of Architecture and Urban Design. Lawrence is a great city, but it's not very urban."

Almost all of the students actually moved to Kansas City for the fall semester to be closer to their work, which was headquartered in a studio at Epperson House on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus. LeRoy said some even took additional classes at UMCK while there.

He added they gained a lot of experience during the project.

"Rather than sitting in Marvin Hall, they were out there doing research and designing," he said. "They had to work with real people on a real project. That's the best education for them."

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