The Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity resides in the shell of the former Union Station power house building. The project included a complete restoration of a 100 year old historic structure and now includes dance studios, theater, rehearsal space, wardrobe storage and offices for the Kansas City Ballet. The center includes The Company's practice facility (the ballet's professional dancers), and hosts multiple dance, aerobic and tap classes to entertain people of all ages. The Bolender Center plays a crucial role in the redevelopment of Kansas City and is a symbol of the resurgent Crossroads district. The building sat vacant for nearly five decades before the Ballet begun the transformation from a coal burning powerhouse to a multifunctional performance facility. The building was originally constructed for $220,000 from 1911 to 1913. The building was renovated from 2008-2011, after a $30,000 capital campaign. The power house building was the first building constructed in the Union Station campus and was the last and final building in the Union Station campus to be restored.
During 50 years of abandonment, the roof, windows, coal bins, coal hoppers, concrete flooring, exterior brick facade, terra cotta, and interior brick firewall sustained substantial damage and required extensive repair, alteration and replacement. JE Dunn tuck-pointed 158,00 lineal feet of mortar joint, replaced 17,500 bricks and 268 pieces of terra cotta. To further complicate the project, the building is located over OK Creek and had nearly eight feet of standing water in the basement. JE Dunn Construction pumped water for three weeks before Structural Engineering and Associates was able to begin structural assessment of the existing facility. De-watering continued for a year and a half until the building’s underslab draining system became operational. By-product chemicals from the original coal burning process severely degraded many of the buildings structural steel members. In order to repair the degrading steel, Genesis Structures and The Bratton Corporation developed an elaborate post shoring system to jack the building up approximately 1/2 inch in order to reduce load on the degraded steel members in order to perform structural repair. In order to obtain historic tax credits, the Todd Bolender Center was required to maintain many of the building’s existing and unique features including:
- Restoration of steel ash hoppers
- Removal of existing window hardware and modifying it into custom light shelves
- Recreating the “Texas Skylight”, which runs the length of the building and provides natural light to many of the studios
- Repairing existing stoker rails originally used to move stokers for building fire pitts
- Repairing the base of the existing smokestack which now houses building exhaust louvers and skylight
- Recreating fire pit floor box openings with glass block infill
- Salvage and restoration of existing coal carts
- Salvage and restoration of the existing gantry crane and hook
The powerhouse building's original function allowed many unique features to be incorporated into the Todd Bolender Center. Modifying a 100 year old structure that had been abandoned for 50 years and completely changing the bulidings program from a coal generated power plant to modern dance studios made this project extremely complex.