Remaking the Igloo

Igloo painted by Scribe

History:  I had never heard of “the Igloo” not growing up in Kansas City I was unaware of this much beloved childhood experience at the Kansas City Museum. The igloo had been removed as an exhibit due to changes in focus by the museum and renovations to the building known as Corinthian Hall.  Though the memory of the igloo was still very strong and many longed for their children to have the same experience.  Along comes Zona Rosa, a New Urbanist mixed use development with a sincere desire to resurrect many of Kansas City’s holiday traditions.  Long lost street decorations and the Fairy Princess being just a few, Zona Rosa is creating a shopping/entertainment district from scratch of a type not seen in KC since the country club plaza.  Zona Rosa teamed with the KC museum to bring back the Igloo in combinations with there already successful reintroduction of the Fairy Princess to help the KC Museum attract patrons to the Museum during the holiday season and to boost Visits at Zona Rosa as well. Learn more at  .

Design:  The  problem presented to WSKF was to recreate the Igloo but make it demountable so it could be erected at Zona Rosa, deconstructed and moved to the KC museum  reconstructed (within 24 hrs) and then deconstructed moved back to Zona Rosa and stored till the next holiday season.  We had photos of the original exhibit and the outline of the igloo could still be seen on the upper floor of the museum. The diameter was determined to be around 12-13’.  The design was envisioned as a series of interlocking shells in manageable sizes that 2 men could lift into place. The original was lath and plaster over metal framing, hardly demountable. The new igloo would need to be stored and trucked around town in crates and they would need to fit through the doors at the museum.  It would need to be durable and also need to be fire resistant.  The entrance was originally quite low but we designed the new entry taller to accommodate a child in a wheel chair.  We added windows and a bench so children could look out and added an exit similar to the entrance.  There would also be a chimney hole at the top.

Team:  The design was complete in concept but the execution would take expertise not usually found in the building trade. We looked to a reinforced gypsum plaster fabricator with whom we had worked before to provide decorative plaster coves, domes and column covers. Plastrglas of Omaha Nebraska rose to the challenge, .  Plastrglas prototyped the connections and fastening systems and then built the igloo panels assembled the igloo at the factory then made the reusable crates to ship and store the panels.  The team from Plastrglas then came to Zona Rosa and with the help of the maintenance crew and WSKF assembled the igloo.  Next came the finishing of the interior and exterior of the igloo, here we  tapped the artistic talent of Donald Ross also known as Scribe. Scribe is a graffiti artist with whom WSKF works with often at the Children’s Mercy Hospital where he is the resident artist.  Scribe hand painted the igloo exaggerating the blocks and creating a pearlescent finish that reflects light.  Scribe was also commissioned to duplicate the mural painting found at the original exhibit.  This he painted using a computer and we then printed the backdrop on one continuous 10’x 40’ long vinyl banner.  To finish the effect we added cool blue LED lights, faux fur rugs, and ice cube seats.  The igloo though was not complete until we added air conditioning.

John E Freshnock – WSKF architects Inc.