Cowtown Visitors Center, Wichita, KS
The new visitor’s center is to serve as a gateway into the experience of life in Wichita in the 1870’s. This project is designed to bridge the gap between the perceptions about the past held by a visitor and the reality of that period. The center prepares the visitors as they retract from the 21st century into the early days when Wichita was a cowtown.
Early visitors arrived in Wichita in the late 1860’s – traveling in wagons or on horseback – slowly making their way across the tall grass prairie. The design goal is to bring back those images and experiences by introducing native grasses and winding berms which draw visitors into Cowtown by subtly revealing the roof structure.
The original master plan required the visitor’s center to be along Museum Boulevard. However, the design team took a different approach to showcase the new visitor’s center along the river by:
- connecting it to the Arkansas River Bike Path
- enhancing visibility from McLean Boulevard
- attracting observance from the Seneca Street Bridge down river
This placement affords a great view down river to the beautiful Wichita skyline. This building offers these great views both from the building’s interior spaces as well as the exterior patios. These factors are valuable to Cowtown’s ability to rent the center for social gatherings as well as create a new image for the community at large.
- Exposed heavy timber structure
- Expansive views to the Arkansas River
- Snack bar
- Catering kitchen
- Museum store
- Large covered porch
- Orientation amphitheater
- Eating patio adjacent to river
- Indoor / outdoor stone fireplace
- Rolling prairie atmosphere
- Clerestory windows
- Inverted railroad trellis
Old Cowtown Living History Museum
6,000 SF total
Excellence in Architecture - Merit Award