Most innovative curtain-wall project

Kauffman Center of the Performing Arts, Novum Structures LLC
July 6, 2012

The 286,000-square-foot Kauffman Center of the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Mo., showcases two performance venues, the Muriel Kauffman Theatre and Helzberg Hall. Novum Structures LLC contracted with JE Dunn Construction Co. to engineer, fabricate and construct the 317-foot-wide, 70-foot-high and 73-foot-deep glass atrium, a signature feature that connects the main entry to both performance venues. The cable-supported glass structure was conceived as a cello’s strings fanning over a bridge and fret-board.

The two massive steel structures that house the theatres hold the upper end of a series of parallel cable trusses. The low end of the cables are anchored externally in the second floor slab after crossing ornate pipe columns that define the line of the glazed walls and act as cable stays, in addition to forming the primary roof and perimeter frame structure. A secondary cable system of vertical and inclined cables supports the glass wall units, which are secured with Novum’s Corner Clamped Glass System. Beam riggers span between the primary roof cable trusses and support edge-clamped rectangular glass roof panels.

The four-story glass atrium enclosure contains 48,300 square feet of insulating, laminated glass that is comprised of 1,147 irregularly shaped segments, each weighing between 600 pounds and 800 pounds. The mainly rectangular glass panels on the roof are 2 1/16 inches thick due to snow design; the wall panels are 1 ¾ inches thick. Avic Sanxin Co., Ltd., manufactured the glass for the project.

Novum’s scope also included the construction of a vertical façade located between the theatre and concert hall, three glass vestibules with six sets of double glass doors and two skylights.

Construction of the roof and three wall facades involved extensive planning and coordination, according to Novum officials. Loading of the structural steel with precast was coordinated with cable tensioning to ensure cables were tensioned close to theory and in accordance with all building deflections. Tests were also completed to assure the glass structure would be weathertight and withstand the loads required and the climatic changes the building would have to endure.

Safdie Architects was the architect for the project.