Hufft

Groundbreaking ceremony kicks off today for Charlotte Street Foundation

A groundbreaking ceremony will kick off at 5pm today to celebrate the soon-to-be start of construction for Charlotte Street Foundation’s new campus, located near Roanoke Park.

Charlotte Street Foundation was established in 1997 in response to a lack of creative, social and economic resources for Kansas City artists. The organization has steadily expanded its suite of services to include special commissions, free studio residencies, exhibition and performance space for artists, and advocacy with local and national philanthropic business and civic leaders. Charlotte Street is also the only organization in the region that grants artists direct monetary support.

The new campus – a two-building industrial complex – is located at 3333 Wyoming Street and will offer nearly 25,000 SF of operating space. Charlotte Street’s relocation will repurpose the closed, segregated buildings into a flexible, open, community-focused hub of activity.

The building concept starts with the idea of an artist’s village. Hufft, who leads the design, focused on connections: artists to other artists; artists to the greater community; artists to the Charlotte Street staff; and artists to the surrounding landscape.

The building opens up both vertically and horizontally, starting with inserting a main reception that connects the lower and upper terraces. As the new collective entrance to the building it ensures that everyone passes through the same space regardless of how they access the hilly site. It serves as a lobby, an incubator, a lecture hall with large cascading staircase, and the first space for a chance interaction. From here the building opens up vertically, so that from the reception you can see up to the artist’s studio levels, forming the next level of community interaction.

The final step is the insertion of large openings into the windowless industrial building, providing a glimpse to the outside and connecting the artists to both the surrounding community and lush landscape. The result is a continuous internal village streetscape, where artists step outside their studio to find themselves in an active continuous space, one that connects down to the reception, artist’s courtyard, and beyond.

The foundation moved its offices to the new campus in October and continues to operate their 2019 programming out of various metro area locations. With construction kicking off this summer, current project schedules have the transition of resources to the campus taking place in the first quarter of 2020.

Hufft leads the design along with the project team of Benson Method, who serves as the Owner Representative. Newkirk Novak is the general contractor, 40North is the landscape architect, and engineering support for the project is provided by Lankford Fendler as MEP.

The Charlotte Street Foundation Groundbreaking Ceremony is today, June 12 starting at 5pm at 3325-3335 Wyoming Street. There will be a guided tour and feature artists performing throughout the event.

Hufft helps Tuft & Needle become sleeper retail success story

Thanks to startup mattress company Tuft & Needle, architecture and design firm Hufft has found a soft spot in today’s hard-pressed retail market. 

The online industry disrupter chose Hufft last year to design its experiential prototype store serving the Kansas City market, a project so successful that 10 additional stores are planned for 2019 in addition to stores in Portland, Ore. and Raleigh, N.C.

"The idea was to create a space that felt like home, making the mattress buying experience a little less intimidating," Hufft Design Principal Dan Brown said. "It can be uncomfortable to lay on the bed with your significant other or yourself."

Hufft's concept store in Leawood replaced the sea of flat mattresses and harsh lighting typically found in mattress stores with soft lighting and four semi-private rooms where customers can test mattresses and meet with a "no pressure" sales rep if needed. Orders are placed via iPad and shipped directly to the home.

“It’s exactly what people are talking about when they talk about the future of retail being experiential,” Brown said. “It’s lean, customer centric and experience-based. The concept is more about conveying the experience of the brand, rather than picking from 1,000 products. It’s not about having the most things but about having the most quality.”

Hufft’s on-site fabricating shop creates project efficiencies by producing everything from fixtures to furniture to in-wall rolling casework and cabinetry. The unique combination of retail design expertise and custom fabrication is helping the firm carve out a niche in the crossroads of e-commerce and experiential retail.

“We can quickly roll out these stores. They hand us a location and a box size and then we work with them to develop the concept using the KC store as a template,” Brown said. “While we are in the design process, we can also be building cabinets and fixtures, for the space so it’s a really seamless process.”

MetroWire Media's top themes of 2018: Push, Pivot, Preserve

Hufft 'small box' concept pops onto big-market retail scene

Hufft is playing big with its ‘small box’ pop-up design, a concept that has allowed homegrown retailer Baldwin Denim to try major markets on for size without signing long-term leases. Over the past 12 months, the Kansas City-based architecture firm and fabricator’s store-in-a-box has helped Baldwin Denim expand to New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, and San Jose, California.

Hufft founder Matthew Hufft and Baldwin Denim founder Matthew Baldwin are longtime friends, so Hufft was game when Baldwin asked him in 2017 to fast-track design for a pop-up store in New York City.

“It started with (Baldwin) saying, ‘hey, we need a popup store in a few months. How can we get that done on a budget?’” Matthew Hufft said. “We worked with them to develop a scalable model, basically a store that can ship to almost any location and be set up in days. Landlords are loving this model and offering better lease terms because of it.”

Packed inside one plywood box, the “pasture in the city” pop-up landed rave reviews from Interior Design magazine, with editors calling the mashup “one of the most innovative pop-ups” they’ve ever seen. Fabricated at Hufft’s Kansas City headquarters, the concept features design nods to Midwestern barns and landscapes.  

The entire store is shipped in three birch-plywood shipping crates comprised of two nesting “prairie tables.” When separated, the rustic tables feature edges that resemble Kansas hillsides. The theme continues with a dressing room shaped like a grain silo flat-packed for easy assembly without fasteners.  

“We are helping create (Baldwin’s) brand experience, and looking at the retail industry overall we understand we have to do it differently,” Hufft said.

Additional Baldwin Denim stores in Denver and Austin are expected by the end of the year. Check out the slideshow provided by Hufft below. Click on the photo to advance the gallery. 

ULI 2017 Developments of Distinction: The Grocers Warehouse

The Grocers Warehouse is the former home of Kansas City’s famed Wolferman grocery distribution facility. The 60,000-square foot building located at the base of Roanoke Park in midtown Kansas City sat abandoned and forlorn for years until Matthew Hufft and Jesse Hufft began dreaming about reinventing and restoring the property.

“It had been vacant for over 10 years, and we kept thinking there had to be a way to revive the building. Trees were growing from the inside of it, there were lots of broken windows and it was just neglected,” said Matthew Hufft, owner of Hufft, a design collective that designs, constructs and fabricates everything from office space to office furniture. “We kind of thought, ‘We live in the neighborhood. Here is a building that needs help. How do we creatively put ourselves inside of it?”

The Huffts envisioned a mixed-use adaptation and historical preservation that could house their design firm and fabrication processes and also include 14 studio loft apartments. The project enabled Hufft to more than double its office and fabrication space from its previous 15,000 square foot location in Westport while more than doubling its headcount in two years.

“I like to say the building allowed us to become the company we wanted to be,” Jesse Hufft said. “We hope that what we have done with this building is going to add longevity, value, beautification, and maybe just a vibe and legitimacy to the area-- and we absolutely love having the chance to put life back into this spot."

The project was first among several redevelopments taking place in the Roanoke neighborhood and is often praised for serving as a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization, but the Huffts credit the nonprofit Roanoke Park Conservancy with leading the charge.  

Hufft provided development, architecture, design and general contractor services for the project.