Mattie Rhodes Cultural Center

Founded in 1894, Mattie Rhodes Center is a bilingual / bicultural nonprofit agency that provides support to the Hispanic and Latinx community through social services, behavioral health counseling, and the arts. Looking to increase its commitment to the Westside neighborhood in Kansas City, the Center wanted to provide a home dedicated to its cultural arts programming, including arts education, public outreach, public celebrations, and a curation of its extensive Hand-in-Hand Fold Art collection. With that commitment in mind, the Center acquired the last commercially-zoned parcel in the neighborhood, a site that was previously considered too difficult to build upon due to its steep topography.

The project set out to make a vibrant visual statement of the Center’s presence within the neighborhood. While the architectural form was kept as a simple gesture, the generous volume within allows for the display of large-scale artwork and flexible space for a variety of events. The interior face of the building’s envelope was carefully considered to allow for frequent changes to the artwork displayed while avoiding the need to repaint/repair the entire height of the surfaces. Casework, custom designed to permanently display the Hand-in-Hand Folk Art collection, separates the gallery from circulation and other spaces. The steep topography was leveraged as an asset, inviting those approaching the building from the north to view the gallery from above through a generous aperture that also functions as exterior seating. At the primary entrance, expansive doorways and a custom trellis expand the programming to outdoor space while protecting the interior space (and the artwork within) from direct sunlight. The bold blue stucco, inspired by colors traditionally used in Hispanic art and architecture, completes the visual statement and provides a backdrop for the Center’s hosting of outdoor festivals. The result is a cultural center fitting Mattie Rhodes’ vision of a vibrant community in Kansas City’s Westside.

Work completed while at El Dorado.


Mattie Rhodes Center



Kansas City, Missouri

4,262 SF






2022 AIA Kansas City Design Excellence Awards, Honor
2022 Kansas City Business Journal, Capstone

Simplicity and restraint provide a big impact to community.

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