Archive for Cultural


Fairground Horse Arena Complete!

The Equestrian Arena at the Steele County Fairgrounds was complete in time for the 2014 annual fair!

The almost 30,000 square foot Arena and Exhibition Building is now complete at the Steele County Free Fairgrounds in Owatonna, Minnesota (see rendering above). Also referred to as Phase One of a 100,000+ Square Foot Multi-Purpose Livestock facility; it is a pre-engineered metal building which will be home to Equine Stalling Space that could total up to 170 stalls. The building also has a large clear span exhibition area that could be used for judging, an indoor Rodeo, or even storage of large vehicles during the cold winter months. The remaining not-built phases could bring the animal capacity up to over 500 if all available stalls are utilized.

 

This facility was conceptualized during the original K/O Fairground Master Plan study for the Steele County Fair complete a few years ago. The Plan included analysis of 50 buildings on the 70+ acre property. The $18 million Master Plan resulted in recommending a 155,000 SF Multi-Purpose Equine focused Complex. This building which was Phase 1, was complete prior to the 2014 fair. This new structure was designed to be a part of a series of interconnected exhibit spaces and multi-use buildings that ultimately could be used for hosting any number of expos, trade shows, animal shows, or events.

Summer of Fun and Fairs – Photo Recap!

K/O Architects has been busy as Fairground Architects and Fairground Planners attending (and designing) Fairs and Festivals all around the country, and just having a “Good Ol’ Time” this summer! We thought we would include a couple of photos of what we’ve been up to in August. Fairground Design has taken us all around the United States as we have been working on Livestock Barns, Equine Facilities, Exhibition Buildings, Fairground Design and other Entertainment types of projects.

 

We got a chance to visit a couple of NASCAR tracks this summer as we were planning some fairs!

We got a chance to attend a few concerts on Fairgrounds this summer – like Brantley Gilbert and Skid Row! We even had some backstage passes!

We spent the day working a food stand at the Iowa State Fair! There is nothing like first-hand experience to understand what works!

We got to visit the Evergreen State Fair in full swing as part of the Master Planning process! The Ferris Wheel is courtesy of Butler Amusements.

Cool lighting effect on the back of this grandstand at a track our NASCAR feasibility consultants were involved with – DSA Motorsports.

We got a chance to climb the roof tops at the Iowa State Fair this summer as we analyzed flow to better develop our planning concepts!

 

Win with K/O in Vegas! At the Fairs & Expos Conference!

 

Stop by our Booth #1001 at the Fairs & Expos Conference for a Chance to Win!

If you happen to be in Las Vegas next week for… whatever it is you do, or like us, at the International Association of Fairs and Expositions conference held in the Paris Ballroom on November 26th through the 28th. Stop by our booth #1001 and say Hi! We’re the only Fairground Architect or Fairground Designer in the area. We can show you the latest Fairground Master Plan we’ve completed, the latest Equestrian Barn, Livestock Barn, Exhibition Building, or Horse Arena we were the Architect on. Or at least stop by to sign up for all the free stuff we’re giving away. The main give-away on day three is an Amazon Kindle. We’ll also have several other drawings throughout the show each day for smaller items (cool K/O hats, gift cards, casino chips, drink tickets, etc.) – so be sure to stop by each day to get entered. Mention to us you saw this post we’ll make sure you get a gift!

If you cannot make it out to Vegas be sure to get entered in our second chance drawing to be held after the show. Just go to our Contact tab on our website and enter “2012 IAFE Second Chance” in the message box. Also, enter your first/last name, phone number and email so we can reach you! Enter early and often for more chances to win!

K/O will be at the Fairs and Expos trade show in Las Vegas on November 26-28, 2012

Hey, also, as always, in the spirit of great trades shows – who ever sets us up with a solid prospective lead will get a special evening of entertainment on us! For the first time this year (through the magic of the internet) we are opening this up to everyone – even if you cannot attend the show! For those of you not in Vegas, don’t worry we’ll figure something out to make it worth your while! Let us know and we’ll treat you right!

Hope the upcoming month of Holidays bode well for everyone, Have Fun and see you in Vegas, Baby!

K/O Fairground Planners in Vegas, Baby! Yea!

Fairs, Travel, Great Food, and Even Better Company!

 

Great Food and Great People at the Clockwork Cafe in Park City, Utah

On a recent trip to Utah, while wrapping up a project as Fairground Designers and Fairground Planners we happened into a nice little café located on the unpretentious side of Park City. Called the Clockwork Café its proprietor Ben Farquharson was quick to offer up conversation and the daily specials. He did not get more than halfway through his description of the Monday special before we were ordering our very own “Italian Stallion”. From his description:

“We take a nice 6 inch ambassador French roll lightly toasted with a spritz of balsamic vinegar. Then we add a layer of lean cured ham, true dry salami, provolone cheese, and a dash of parmesan. All of it is heated then we add lettuce, onion, tomato, and if you are so inclined and I recommend you do so, we add diced pepperoncinis for the bold. It is then finished with a light mayo and mustard.”

If you’re ever in the area I guess the Friday special is not to be missed – the BBQ Tri-Tip Day. As local rumor and legend has it if you show up after 11:30 you will have more than likely shown up too late as they have probably run out for the day.

Ben is quite a salesman and a great personality. He has a great little shop serving breakfast, and lunch, sandwiches, salads, and as stated directly off of the menu “Bad Ass Coffee Creations”. So, be sure to stop by the Clockwork Café located at 6415 N. Business Park Loop Road, Park City, Utah 84098. For carry out orders or deliveries be sure to call ahead 435-658-2469. You might even find us there – I mean there is always a Fairground that needs an Architect – right!

Thanked for Just Being K/O!

Thank You Cards recently sent to K/O Architects!

Recently we hosted a couple of college students in our office for an informal interview of sorts. We were not the student’s only stop, they got a chance to visit with several other architectural firms in the Des Moines, Iowa area. The expectations at the outset were pretty simple they were not looking for a job – only information on firm dynamic, culture, make-up, etc.; basically a no pressure situation for both parties. The students were on a self-directed mission to find out what kind of employers were out there. We agreed to sit down and chat, and answer a few canned questions and a few not so. We enjoyed the conversation, showed them around our office, and gave them a glimpse as to the “ways” of our profession (at least the “ways” as we see it in our world).

Long story short, they must have appreciated the information and tour as much as we did the “show and tell” time – they sent us a couple of follow-up Thank You notes. Not the email type – the good old fashion note card type that comes in the mail with a stamp on it! It was refreshing to see that the art of hand writing a personal note has not been entirely lost. What an excellent idea on how to make a strong first impression! This is Marketing 101 stuff! The conversation was not memorable but it was pleasant. The hand written notecard was icing on the cake so to speak – unexpected and memorable!

Most people in marketing could take away a thing or two from these two college kids! Small things matter! Just when you think it might not be important. That is when it is the most important of all!

Both notes start out – Mr. Overton, and read as follows:

Thanks again for meeting with us this summer. I was surprised to see ISU feature a MakerBot in their Smithsonian display after seeing one in action at your office. Your laid back studio culture was a pleasure to observe in contrast to the other offices we had the chance to visit. Hope to see you up in the guest critic circuit in the near future.

Thank you so much for taking time to meet with us. I learned a great deal and appreciate all you helped us with. I loved K/O and the atmosphere there and hope to visit again someday. Thank you again for everything!

See what we mean – it’s flattering to get Thanked for being Yourself!

Iowa State Fair – The Inside Scoop!

The steel framework under construction for the new free entertainment stage on Expo Hill at the Iowa State Fair! A stretch fabric cover will be installed over the skeleton like structure!

As a Fairground Architect (fairground designers or master planners) we like to pay attention to what is new and interesting or what is happening around the Iowa State Fair. Ok, we admit that we do not necessarily have the full inside scoop but, we do try to keep our “ears to the ground” regarding all things concerning the Iowa State Fair.

Recently, we attended the Iowa State Fair Corndog Kickoff fundraiser, not only did we get some great “heads-up” information from fair insiders, but we also had a fun time for a great cause. According to the Blue Ribbon Foundation the event was a huge financial success raising over $350,000 for the Iowa State Fair in one night.

When we think of the Iowa State Fair we think of several things – the Food, Agriculture, Animals, Midway, Art, Contests, Butter Cow, Museum, Parade, Champion Livestock, and People Watching. From the reconnaissance we can gather it appears as though this year will be no different. So, below are a few of our thoughts/findings regarding the information we gathered poking around and asking questions as it pertains to the upcoming 2012 Iowa State Fair:

The Chocolate Moose will be on display in the Elwell Family Food Center at the Iowa State Fair!

First, if you’re a fan of the Butter Cow as we are, we think the new “must-see” exhibit this year is going to be at the Elwell Family Food Center. This building will house a life-size moose (9 feet tall) made of Dutch chocolate (you read that correctly, “life size” and “chocolate”). This is a required visit for any chocolate lover – unfortunately, we have not heard anything about it being available for tasting. Get this – as cool as it sounds, it is not the first time that this has been done before (moose made from chocolate), see the video link below. Currently in Scarborough, Maine there is a and 1700 pound, 8 foot tall milk Chocolate Moose named Lenny that has been on display since July 1, 1997 (over 15 years).

Click to watch the video – A Chocolate Moose like this one located in Scarborough, Maine – will be at the Iowa State Fair!

If your thing is adventure then this year you better not miss out on the new Zipline attraction that will be installed west of the Jacobson Exhibition Building. This is in the same vain as the larger than life thrill rides that are typically set-up south of the Varied Industries Building (you know, the towering high speed caged ferris wheel and the human slingshot). This zipline amusement should offer some amazing views of the grounds and allow you to get from point A to point B quicker than the skyride. Basically, you leap from a 28-foot high tower and fly 130 feet over the grounds – sounds a little crazy to us! Check out the video below from the “little bit larger” zipline set-up at the California State Fair.

Click to watch video – A zipline thrill ride at the California State Fair!

 

The west lawn of the Jacobson Exhibition Building at the Iowa State Fair will host a 130 foot long zipline attraction!

One thing that the Iowa State Fair does do right is its architecture. This year there were no large building projects undertaken but there were several smaller projects and as typical these are always gems for the aficionado to seek out. This year those who search will not be disappointed, if you are a follower of such architectural wonders. The latest addition to Expo Hill (right next to the large wind turbine) is a uniquely-designed covered structure which provides a new location for free entertainment. The idea is to have solar panels attached to a portion of the stretch fabric skin covering the frame. As of this writing the fabric is being installed and the solar panels may or may not make the cut. Of course, if the panels do get installed as envisioned they will provide a portion of the venue’s power needs.

The new stairs up to Expo Hill at the Iowa State Fair nestle into the hillside very nicely!

The Cultural Center will receive two new elevators for this year’s fair. We guess these elevators could serve as a new ride of sorts (they might be kinda slow and stuffy – but, if you’re on a budget…). On a serious note the elevator project is the first phase of long awaited, much needed accessibility updates to the Exhibition Building, and should be well received by the public. We hope more phases are planned for the future, as this building is in need of some TLC.

The Cultural Center is the recipient of a few updates for the 2012 Iowa State Fair!

Another very interesting new project has a high probability of going unnoticed by most fairgoers. It is partly because it is an addition to a lesser known building on the grounds – unless you are an avid 4-H person. We are of course talking about a small expansion to the 4-H building (located near the Horse Barn and other Livestock Barns). The project quite simply is a new entry to the west façade. Programmatically, the space is part entry, ticket booth and storage room, but it is a nice little architectural feature and has a nice spatial quality, and use of materials on its interior. Even though it is a contemporary structure it has not forgotten its roots and fits in well with the existing historic building from the exterior.

The new entry “chunk” under constuction on the west side of the 4-H Building at the Iowa State Fair

There are many amazing acts and displays of wonderful things at the Iowa State Fair. Once again, we might be biased but we think, besides your food favorites the architecture once should have no problem stealing the show!

Remember as the Fair theme goes this year:

Iowa State Fair – Nothing Compares!

K/O Travelogue – Architecture and Planning

Riding Heard – Bricktown Riverwalk

From the “We get to work in the best places” annals – Oklahoma City Chapter.

On a recent trip to good old Oklahoma City, Oklahoma as Fairground Architects we were impressed, to say the least! I guess we have not been to Oklahoma City in a long time (probably about 10+ years). We’re glad to be back!

That town has grown up! They have baseball, basketball, hockey, great college sports – you name it. And man do they have art and architecture. If you want cool modern architecture look up the Chesapeake Boathouse by Rand Elliot. Cool is an understatement in fact check out his website, as his aesthetic pretty much defines contextual Midwest place making at its highest level (ok, Oklahoma is not technically in the Midwest, but it’s only one state off, and they basically have the same value structure as us Midwesterners – so for this blog we’ll go with that). We were also impressed by the art scene as well, and specifically one larger than life sculpture titled “Land Rush” located in “Bricktown”.

Once a busy warehouse district, Bricktown is Oklahoma City’s hottest entertainment and dining area, with numerous restaurants, nightclubs, and shops. Other attractions include the Bricktown Ballpark, (home to the Oklahoma RedHawks Triple AAA baseball team), horse-drawn carriage rides, the Spirit of Oklahoma Trolley, and water taxi boat tours on the Bricktown Canal.

Bricktown brims with public art including sculpture, murals and even performance art. In celebration of the historic land rush of 1889 and in conjunction with the 100th Anniversary of statehood, renowned sculptor Paul Moore created a dynamic outdoor public art piece that reenacts the land run that opened Oklahoma for settlement. Moore’s “two times” life size sculptures commemorate the spirit and determination of those men and women who rode in Oklahoma’s five land runs. The work of art is one of the world’s largest bronze sculptures. The installation includes 38 people, 34 horses, 3 wagons, and many other equally impressive bronze creations.

History: The Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 was the first land run into the “Unassigned Lands” and included all or part of the 2005 modern day Oklahoma counties – Canadian, Cleveland, Kingfisher, Logan, Oklahoma, and Payne. The land run started at high noon on April 22, 1889, with an estimated 50,000 people lined up for their piece of the available …get this, two million acres! By the end of the day (April 22, 1889), both Oklahoma City and Guthrie had established cities of around 10,000 people in literally half a day.

As Harper’s Weekly put it: At twelve o’clock on Monday, April 22d, the resident population of Guthrie was nothing; before sundown it was at least ten thousand. In that time streets had been laid out, town lots staked off, and steps taken toward the formation of a municipal government.”

Many settlers immediately started improving their new land or stood in line waiting to file their claim. By the second week, schools had opened and were being taught by volunteers until regular school districts could be established. Within one month, Oklahoma City had five banks and six newspapers.

Interesting Fact: A number of the individuals who participated in the run entered early and hid out until the legal time of entry to lay quick claim to some of the most choice homesteads. These people came to be identified as “sooners.” This led to hundreds of legal contests that arose and were decided first at local land offices and eventually by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Arguments included what constituted the “legal time of entry”. This is also what you’re known as if you’re an attendee or alum from the University of Oklahoma – given the history, I’m not sure I would want to be known as a Sooner (we can poke fun, we’re all Iowa State University graduates up here, that’s another Blog entry someday).

Learning From Las Vegas – Fairs, Entertainment and Other Thoughts

Entertainment Architecture – “In Your Face Architecture”

We just finished exhibiting at the 2011 IAFE (International Association of Fairs and Exhibitions) Conference in Las Vegas. The conference was held in and around the Great Ballroom at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Convention and Trade Show held in Las Vegas each year, is the largest event serving fairs, shows,
exhibitions, and expositions. As a Fairground Architect and Fairground Master Planner we had the benefit of networking and learning from top industry folks and other fair professionals during the intensive four days of workshops, special seminars, round table discussions, and social events. The Trade Show allows us to showcase our firm while serving as a one-stop shop for all things fair. This year we got to show off our new designs for a Horse Barn, Equestrian Facility, Livestock Barn, Equine Arena, Exhibition Building, and a a few Fairground Master Plans.

As an architect of mass entertainment facilities there could not be a more perfect setting than to hold a show in Las Vegas. Las Vegas is everything entertainment design aspires to be – in your face, cutting edge, modern, and definitely Disneyesque. This recent visit allowed us to tour the recently completed (opened about a year ago) CityCenter. The below entry summarizes our thoughts.

The blog entry below uses several excerpts and references from the October 2010 article “What Happens in Vegas” by Paul Goldberger – originally published in the New Yorker

We all know that Las Vegas has been expanding since 2005, when Steve Wynn started the latest and largest building-boom Vegas has ever seen. High-rise, condo, hotel, mixed-use, adaptive-reuse and other projects in the Las Vegas area are in various stages of planning, development and construction.

Image of the CityCenter at night from the CityCenter.com website

For several years now, there has been talk about whether Las Vegas could handle what in any other city might be referred to as real architecture. In 2004, when the hotel company MGM Mirage (now known as MGM Resorts International) was looking for a way of filling in a sixty-six-acre site between two of its properties on the west side of the Strip (the Bellagio and the Monte Carlo), it hit on the idea of turning the plot into a showcase for modern architecture.

The Las Vegas Strip is constantly debuting new projects, boasting the latest in new urban architecture, design and technology. LEED certified “Green” buildings are making an entrance and many world-famous architects (starchitects) stepped up to the plate to create the critically acclaimed CityCenter, the biggest construction project in the history of Las Vegas. It has three hotels, two condominium towers, a shopping mall, a convention center, a couple of dozen restaurants, a private monorail, and a casino. There was to have been a fourth hotel, whose opening has been delayed indefinitely. But even without it the project contains nearly eighteen million square feet of space, the equivalent of roughly six Empire State Buildings. In an effort to counterpoint Las Vegas kitschiness the rolodex of who’s who in architecture was called into action. The result is a community of glittering starchitect ambition. There are major buildings by Daniel Libeskind, Rafael Viñoly, Helmut Jahn, Pelli Clarke Pelli, Kohn Pedersen Fox, and Norman Foster; and interiors by Peter Marino, Lewis Tsurumaki Lewis, Bentel and Bentel, and AvroKO (no relation to our firm). There are also prominent sculptures by Maya Lin, Nancy Rubins, and Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.

If Las Vegas wants to be rescued from kitsch, that remains to be seen. CityCenter has struggled in the year since it opened. But it’s been clear for a while that Las Vegas has been running out of themes. The trouble is that its effects rely entirely on dazzlement, an over-the-top gigantism that gets old fast. As Las Vegas had grown—until the recession, its expansion had helped make Nevada the fastest-growing state in the nation—the city has started to feel a little uncomfortable about its reputation as a place where developers spend billions of dollars on funny buildings.

Whether or not the buildings themselves succeed in striking a blow against Vegas kitsch, CityCenter certainly fails to live up to the claim implicit in its name—the hope that it is going to give Las Vegas, the place of ultimate sprawl, a genuine urban focus. As urban planning, it doesn’t go much farther than Caesars Palace. CityCenter is laid out not for pedestrians but as a machine for moving vast numbers of cars efficiently. There are wide ramps coming off the Las Vegas Strip, auto turnarounds, and porte cochères—all good for traffic flow but hardly what you would call urban open space. There has been an attempt to tuck the site’s enormous garages out of sight—employee cars alone number in the thousands—but they are no less visible than at any number of the Strip’s other big hotels. Like its competitors, CityCenter has no real streets. You can glide over the project on a monorail, but there is no pleasant place to walk, except inside the buildings.

Even though there is more perceived density to CityCenter (there really is no more than anywhere else on the strip), and more sophistication to its architecture, it doesn’t feel urban. Its planners have tried to cram more square footage into a tighter space than anyone else has managed in Vegas, and that may make this place seem like an antidote to sprawl. But it still isn’t much of a center, or much of a city. Indeed, as you drive around the site, you suddenly wonder if CityCenter only appears to be different from the rest of the Strip. After all, cutting-edge contemporary architecture by the likes of Libeskind and Foster has been migrating steadily into the cultural mainstream for years. Now, perhaps, it has reached the point where it is familiar enough, and likable enough, to be just another style available for imitation, like the Pyramids or Renaissance Venice. CityCenter is really the Las Vegas you already know and love, but in modernist drag.

Celebration, Exhibition, and Education – Fairground Design!

What are the three main ingredients of every great fair in our nation?

  1. Celebration
  2. Exhibition
  3. Education

Celebrating human achievement (having fun, people watching, entertainment, etc.), Exhibiting the best (commercial goods, livestock, art, technology, crops, etc.), and Educating your neighbor on best practices, and the youth as to the way of the future.

During the design of the Jacobson Exhibition Center (Exhibition Building) on the Iowa State Fairgrounds we decided early on that we not only needed to mix in the ingredients of a great fair but we needed to do it while involving the youth of the State somehow in the design of the building. Early on as Fairground Architects in the design process the owner had brought up the desire to work a barn quilt into the new building design. “What?” we asked, “Bring in a seamstress?”. No, not quite!

Our research showed that traditionally barn quilts are an 8’ x 8’ pattern (an oversized quilt like pattern – just like the bed cover you’re thinking of) painted on a wood block and hung on the side of a barn. The great thing about the quilts is that every quilt pattern is unique to the barn it is hung on. People now spend weekends “chasing” (visiting, documenting, photographing) barn quilts across the Midwest and eastern United States. Thousands now exist, a basic history of the barn quilt can be found by following this link or by doing a basic search on the internet.”

After research on the subject we came to the conclusion that the barn quilt’s traditional form as described above would not mesh well with our vision of the new contemporary structure. That is when we made the decision to involve youth from across the state – In the Spring of 2009, the Iowa State Fair Board put out a request from each of the counties in Iowa to create a quilt block to represent their respective county. One design was then chosen from each County. Each design, 102 in all (one from each County in the State of Iowa + 3 extra) were recreated in 16”x16” clay tiles and installed in a repeating pattern around the over 1000 foot perimeter of the arena/exhibition building. This feature not only showcased the talents of the youth of our State but, created an impressive architectural adornment and level of detail that was unique to traditional fairground design.

This is now a one of a kind destination for many reasons but, as this story goes – especially for those that “chase” barn quilts. This is the only place in the world where you can walk around a single building and enjoy 102 unique barn quilt designs, all in one location, and all on one barn!

The photo below was taken from the blog Write Formation.

Traditional Barn Quilt Example

K/O Fairground Planners/Designers

K/O Fairground Planning and Design

We are pleased to present ourselves to you:

We are National Leaders in Fairground Design and Planning.  We are Fairground Architects, we specialize in fairground projects and have worked on over 200 commissions throughout the United States.  K/O’s extensive resume includes new fairground design, renovation, building design and fairground master planning.  Other services include: programming, infrastructure repair, new construction, site planning, building design, and construction coordination.

“Many of our clients hire us because we offer beginning to end services specializing in the planning, design, and construction of fairground facilities.”

We have worked on Livestock Barns, Horse Barns, Equestrian Barns, Horse Arenas, Fairground Design, Exhibition Buildings, Grandstands, Entertainment Facilities, and Fairground Master Plans.  There are many other entertainment and fairground specific buildings we have designed – give us a call or send us an email and we can fill you in.