Tour offers glimpse of universal design, LEED renovation on Main Street

An historic building at 3710 Main Street is being renovated following universal design and green building standards. When it’s completed, the building will be the new home of The Whole Person. Tomorrow architects are offering a hardhat tour of the former men’s underwear factory.

A historic Kansas City industrial building on Main Street will soon be reborn as headquarters for the Whole Person, an advocate and service provider for people with disabilities.

Architects are conducting a hard-hat tour today of the building at 3710 Main Street to talk about its features of universal design and its green building standards of Leadership in Energy and Environmental design (LEED).

Universal design uses approaches and technologies completely accessible to anyone.

The $5 million renovation is expected to be completed by early next year, when about 80 Whole Person employees will move in, consolidating their three offices in the metro area.

The non-profit group was founded in 1978 and a majority of its board, staff and volunteers are people with disabilities.

The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the application for that indicates original owner Goodenow Textiles Company would have approved of the new use.

From the application:

The Goodenow brothers had good intentions when they commissioned prominent Kansas City architect Samuel B. Tarbet to design the 1929 structure. They wanted to move their employees south from the congested and dirty garment district, thinking that would also boost productivity.

To put employees in a best working conditions possible, they placed them in a building flooded with natural light that was near parks and along a streetcar line.

The company manufactured men’s underwear there from 1930 to 1951 in a building typical of that era of streamlined industrial design.

The company plan apparently worked. It became known nationally for its men’s underwear with the “Good-knit” label and eventually employed about 5 percent of Kansas City’s entire garment workforce.

It was among architect Tarbet’s last projects before he retired. Before then he designed the Olathe city hall and many area commercial and residential buildings including the Athenaeum Club, which is also on the national register.

The hard-hat tour of the Main Street building today Wednesday will be from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. To register by phone, call the Urban Land Institute at 1-800-321-5011.There is a $35 fee for people who are not members of the Institute.

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