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Nelson-Atkins' Bloch Building celebrates 10th anniversary
The Bloch Building was designed by Steven Holl. Photo: Roland Halbe.

KANSAS CITY, MO.- The magical Bloch Building, an award-winning architectural marvel designed by Steven Holl as an expansion of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, celebrates its 10th anniversary with a special exhibition, An Iconic Addition, that opens on June 7. The Bloch Building represents an architectural accomplishment of international importance as well as a turning point in architect Holl’s career. Although the project received criticism during its planning and construction, in the 10 years since opening, the iconic addition has become a point of civic pride and has received critical raves. The New York Times called it “a work of haunting power.” TIME Magazine proclaimed, “The effect against the nighttime sky is nothing short of magical.” The Bloch Building has become emblematic of Kansas City’s rising prominence in design and the fine and performing arts.

“The magnificent Bloch Building is a physical representation of the forward-thinking and inspirational leaders who made up the search and selection committees for an architect, then made Holl’s vision a reality,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO & Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “Without the stewardship of Board leaders Henry Bloch, Adele and Donald J. Hall and Estelle and Morton Sosland, and Director Marc Wilson, this building would never have been built. They combined efforts to bring this project to fruition, and it is a symbol of their vision and tenacity.”

The Nelson-Atkins broke ground April 2, 2001 for the multiphase expansion and renovation, which increased the museum’s permanent collection space by 71 percent. The six-year-long construction process was complex and presented formidable engineering challenges to realize Holl’s novel vision. Running the length of a 67-story skyscraper laid on its side along the sloping eastern edge of the museum’s lush lawn, the airy Bloch Building presents a contemporary contrast to the Nelson-Atkins’ neoclassical beauty. The glacier-white lenses admit natural light into the gallery space by day and glow enchantingly by night.

“The Bloch Building allowed the Nelson-Atkins to expand in every way,” Zugazagoitia said. “Not only can we showcase more art, but the museum has increased its gatherings, events and festivals, resulting in an annual attendance of more than 550,000 visitors.”

The Bloch Lobby exhibition celebrating the 10th anniversary highlights the contributions and leadership of steering committee members Henry W. Bloch, Don and Adele Hall, and Morton and Estelle Sosland, and features reproduced archival material including architects’ sketches, materials documenting reactions, both critical and supportive, as well as video interviews with Holl. The exhibition is curated by Sarah Biggerstaff.

“An Iconic Addition honors the Nelson-Atkins’s commitment to creating ideal spaces for the community to engage in art,” said Biggerstaff. “It takes visitors on a journey through the leadership’s careful planning, the community’s initial hesitation, and ultimately to the public embrace of the world-renowned Bloch Building.”

Special programs include a Sept. 8 performance by Quixotic on the north side of the museum. Architect Steven Holl will be the Mary Atkins Lecture speaker on Nov. 2.

The Bloch Lobby exhibition closes Jan. 14, 2018.

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