Kansas City Art Institute, Tony Jones Studios for Animation & Illustration
The Tony Jones Studios for Animation and Illustration is an adaptive reuse project that transforms the Kansas City Art Institute’s former student living center towers into a new home for the animation and illustration programs. It unites both departments while adding a print shop, art store, and the KCAI Gallery with direct access to the main quad.
The Tony Jones Studios were collaboratively designed with KCAI faculty, catering to each department’s unique requirements. Animation, in the north tower, features multimedia presentation walls and high-tech lighting controls to darken the spaces for student presentations. Illustration, in the south tower, boasts ample natural light and various gallery walls for showcasing student work. Private studio spaces are also provided to encourage exploration and creativity.
Common spaces are distinct for each department, allowing all faculty, staff and students to gather. Flexible, open studios foster collaboration across classes. The main lobby showcases both departments utilizing exposed structure and building systems combined with individual identities, a metal panel entry for the animation department and a birch panel entry for the illustration department, for an industrial yet warm ambiance. Multiple display options for student work, including pin up space and digital media display boxes, are spread throughout the building.
The KCAI Gallery, previously known as Crossroads Gallery, resides on the lower level of Tony Jones Studios. It offers flexible space with moveable partitions and large pivot walls to transform from gallery to classroom to studio to black-box theater, accommodating various exhibitions. Situated between the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, and H&R Block Artspace, the KCAI Gallery becomes a new public art destination.
Being on campus enriches students’ learning through experiential opportunities, interdisciplinary engagements, and interactions with working artists.