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History of Architecture and Engineering in KC

by Angela Orr | Jul 17, 2014

Kansas City’s architecture and engineering industry is responsible for the foundation of the city’s infrastructure. As early as the 1900s, Kansas City engineering firms began to notice problems with Kansas City’s infrastructure including its water system and electric lights. 

In 1898, Clinton Burns and Robert McDonnell joined to form Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company, and tackled the sewer sanitation system in Kansas City and surrounding towns. After several projects in its first year, the new company made a profit of only 13 cents. Burns & McDonnell designed Kansas City’s first water treatment plant, which it updated again in 1945 to carry 150 million gallons of water per day.

In 1915, Ernst Bateman Black and Nathan Thomas Veatch, began a partnership that would become an engineering legacy. Black & Veatch began building roadways and streets in Kansas City in 1925. By 1928, 250 miles of modern roadway were placed throughout the Kansas City area.

Many civic projects in Kansas City were constructed in the 1960s and 70s including the Truman Sports Complex, KCI Airport, Kemper Arena and the Truman Medical Center.

HOK Group also succeeded in the sports, venue and event industry. In 1983, HOK Sport Venue Event division, now called Populous, was formed and employed eight architects and engineers. Populous was responsible for master planning the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London.  

The concentration of successful architecture and engineering companies has made Kansas City a leader in the industry.

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