Rift Red Oak brings contemporary elegance to the Kauffman Center

Rift Red Oak brings warmth and elegance to Helzberg Hall, designed for an engrossing audience experience.

The Kansas City skyline was forever altered when the 185,000 square foot Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts was brought to fruition, changing the essence of building design in the modernizing world. With two distinct halls, Muriel Kauffman Theatre and Helzberg Hall, the center hosts a variety of local, regional, national and international artists and performance groups, simultaneously serving as the performance home of the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra. 

Helzberg Hall, a 1,600-seat oval chamber, which boasts an engrossing audience experience with phenomenal acoustics, was designed with a volumetric and geometric concept. A flooring material was needed that could not only endure the footsteps of countless future audiences but would also match the dramatic design and intended aesthetic. Quarter sawn rift red oak was chosen for its distinctive beauty and durability, bringing warmth and intimacy into the space. Some color variation was allowed, with straight grain, minimal figure on the face of the boards specified for the installation. The quarter sawing process intrinsically improves the stability of the lumber, virtually eliminating any warping, twisting and cupping. Scoring high on the Janka hardness scale, red oak also has exceptional denting resistance. These qualities made quartersawn hardwood the right material choice to create a breathtaking space that will endure. 

“We have been so pleased with the wood floors in Helzberg Hall,” said Jane Chu, president and CEO, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. “The precision and craftsmanship that went into the installation of these floors played a role in the sophisticated acoustics, to reveal the purity of sound in Helzberg Hall.”

Since its opening in 2011, the Kauffman Center has been incredibly popular and is considered a crowning achievement of the Kansas City downtown revitalization effort. All 34,000 square feet of rift red oak, supplied by Frank Miller Lumber, contributed to Helzberg Hall’s intimate and immersive experience. 

The Helzberg Hall flooring project won the 2012 “Best Commercial Wood Flooring” award from The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA).

Architectural Design: Safdie Architects

Installation Specialist: Acme Floor Company

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