Architectural Tours Through Kansas City

Association for Preservation Technology International (APTI)
The APTI is becoming one of our favorite places to learn, share and meet about the strategies we use in our historic and preservation projects. The association offers an abundance of technical resources and learning opportunities, and its annual conference is one of its richest and most comprehensive venues. We’ve also attended local APTI workshops on stained glass and earthquake damage, and found these events to be both informative and full of opportunities to meet other local professionals.

Kansas City
The annual conference in November was in Kansas City. I was delighted with and surprised by the beauty of the city’s historic architecture, especially in its older sections. The conference was held at the Brass on Baltimore club, home to the historic Kansas City Club. Its architectural details are well-conceived and executed, as you see here in the grand lobby and staircase:




All four of the conference hotels—themselves significant historic properties—were within a few blocks. Some of my favorite local buildings and details included these gems, in a traditional vein:



And these mid-century and later modern compositions:




World Series
The conference coincided with the World Series—which the Kansas City Royals won against the New York Mets—and blue jerseys filled the streets. A packed outdoor mini-stadium with a jumbo screen and announcer tracked the games as the Series rolled to its jubilant conclusion. From our rooftop meeting room and terraces, we watched several hundred thousand fans gather to celebrate as the city shut down its public schools and services to give everyone the day off!

Exciting New Technology
Inside the meeting rooms of the beautiful Brass on Baltimore building, we learned about drone-mounted technology that can generate an accurate 3-D point-cloud model of entire campus sites after minutes of flight time instead of days of hand- measuring. We saw videos of injection technology effectively stopping deep basement water penetration where the outside of the foundation walls was buried under subway tracks and otherwise inaccessible. We explored hygrometry for understanding moisture control and remediation—and the unintended consequences of installing thermal barriers behind historic facades that for 100 years or more have been protected by waste heat from their interiors during damp winter months. Stainless steel bands stabilized cracking masonry in historic gothic window traceries.

Great Buildings and Projects
As always, the APTI offers numerous tours of completed projects using the latest preservation techniques. We started with an all-day tour and seminars at the Prosoco building products factory in Lawrence, KS, learning about the testing and product development the company specializes in.

Prosoco 03

Prosoco-01A test to grow corrosion so Prosoco can develop a cleaner for it that doesn’t damage historic building finishes.


At a campus visit to the University of Kansas, we toured the recently renovated Spooner Hall, which used Prosoco’s Cathedral Stone patching products to repair and replace the deteriorated 19th-century red sandstone.




A visit to the Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site on another day was a fascinating insight into the 19th-century factory production machinery of cotton.






The “truth windows” in the walls and floors of the nearby Atkins-Johnson Farm & Museum showed the underlying original construction in the context of the restored structure.


Sustainability and Preservation
Preservation is not often identified with sustainable design. Often, the requirements for authentic preservation that won’t cause long-term additional damage are so rigorous that also using sustainable methods is one step too far, and sustainability is not incorporated meaningfully into some solutions. However, the Sustainable Preservation Technical Committee is the largest and most active in the organization, and is poised to drive forward the indispensable connection between the two. A new online tool called OSCAR provides a resource to all preservation professionals for sustainable systems and practices.

APT Co-Chair Outreach
Because of our firm’s deep interest in the potential for integrating sustainable design and preservation, we agreed to co-chair the Outreach and Alliances effort of the Sustainable Preservation Technical Design Subcommittee. We are eager to see what these efforts will bring for the year, and maybe we will be reaching out to you!