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Kansas City Design Week Delivers Thought-Provoking Events
Designer, writer, curator, and educator Ellen Lupton humorously introduced a new exhibition surveying graphic design over the past decade titled, Graphic Design- Now in Production. The exhibit, which will be at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum on Governors Island in New York from May 26 – September 2, 2012, is the largest museum exhibition on the subject since the Walker’s seminal 1989 exhibition Graphic Design in America: A Visual Language History, and the Cooper-Hewitt’s 1996 comprehensive survey, Mixing Messages: Graphic Design in Contemporary Culture. Watch the dry-witted and highly insightful Lupton wax philosophically on the subject of graphic design here.
Included in the Design Week’s program was a walking tour of the old industrial mecca of Kansas City, an area known as the West Bottoms. Lead by architectural historian Cydney Millstein, the tour took participants through abandoned buildings that once thrived at the turn of the 20th century.
The West Bottoms, an early trading post between French trappers and Kansas Indians, and later a railroad hub for the stockyards, held over 90 percent of Kansas City’s value before its economic collapse – largely due to the floods of 1903 and 1951, and the end of WWII. However, the area has recently been going through somewhat of a renaissance. With help of the PIEA (Planned Industrial Expansion Authority) through generous tax breaks for private investors, brownfield funds to clean up environmental problems, federal grants for a new sewer system, and studies by urban design experts and students, the area has begun to attract businesses (like Good Ju Ju and Re-Runs) and artistic tenants, helping to revive and reestablish the historic West Bottoms district of Kansas City.
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