Downtown Council Member Spotlight
The Downtown Council Member Spotlight showcases DTC member companies and organizations, and the ways they contribute to the quality of life in Downtown KC.
Spotlight on Generator Studio, architecture and interior design, 1615 Baltimore Ave.
Generator Studio is having a moment.
The hometown architecture and interior design firm is currently creating the world’s first stadium purpose-built for a women’s professional sports team. The $117M KC Current stadium is scheduled to open next March at Berkley Riverfront Park, the northeast front door to Downtown Kansas City.
Generator Studio is a firm of architects, interior designers, and creators with a diverse portfolio of work in corporate office, sports and entertainment, hotels and resorts, and commercial lifestyle developments. The firm was the recipient of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Kansas City 2022 Firm Award for making significant contributions to the profession of architecture and the community at large.
Not too shabby for a company established by co-founders Mike Kress and Tom Proebstle just 14 years ago in Mike’s backyard garage.
“We can assure you that North America and Europe are watching Kansas City closely to see what happens with the first women’s professional soccer stadium,” Proebstle said. “The stadium is the place, but it’s more than that. We’ve got to keep in mind what (KC Current owners) Chris and Angie Long have done by committing to Downtown.”
The Longs’ decision to build KC Current Stadium places Kansas City in the global spotlight.
“There is a lot of risk. They’ve made a bet on women’s athletics and have doubled down on that bet. It’s time to give women’s athletics the respect it deserves and this stadium is the start,” Proebstle said. “The conversation has been building but the flag has now been planted. Kansas City is the bleeding edge of the change to come.”
Over the last 14 years, Proebstle and Kress grew their studio slowly and intentionally to 25 employees today, quietly winning work with the most lauded professional sports teams across the country, including the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning, NBA Brooklyn Nets, and the NFL Minnesota Vikings.
In addition, Generator Studio is currently on-point with two other powerhouse projects in Downtown KC:
Academy Bank, 12th & Walnut: A new workplace in the heart of Kansas City will allow Dickinson Financial Corporation to reaffirm its commitment to the Downtown community. Occupying three floors and roughly 55,000 SF, Academy Bank and Armed Forces Bank will share collaboration areas, break-out spaces, and spacious cafes, allowing all of the banks’ disciplines to work in a common space for the first time. In response to the future of work, the space includes hoteling office space for hybrid workers while creating cost efficiency in the building’s footprint. The space is scheduled for completion this summer with a lobby branch opening later this year.
Grand Place, 18th & Grand: Renovation of the historic Kansas City Star building, Grand Place further expands the greater Downtown renaissance by reimagining a full city block into a vibrant, mixed-use destination featuring 250,000+ square-feet of office space, a European-style market, private dining, spa and more. Generator Studio is working with 3D Development to create a best-in-class destination. Grand Place will be the first WELL Core-certified project in Kansas City.
“We hit our stride right about the time that Downtown was hitting its stride. So when we left my garage to move into our first office, we knew it had to be in the Crossroads,” Kress explained. “The Crossroads has only swollen since then and we decided to not only stay here, but buy our own building here because we want to be a part of this. We are fully committed and entrenched in Kansas City’s Downtown.”
Kress and Proebstle realized early on that building relationships through the Downtown Council would be an essential part of their success.
“So many of the great things that are happening in our community are the direct result of making Downtown livable, approachable, and coveted,” Kress explained. “We feel lucky to be a part of that through the Downtown Council.”
Generator Studio’s founders give the DTC a generous share of credit for the advancements of Downtown, as a community and a place to build businesses.
“The Downtown Council is about making sure the nucleus of our city remains vibrant and competitive,” Kress said. “Everyone in that room, at their core, wants the best for Kansas City, so naturally good things happen. It’s not a divisive room, it’s a room of common interests.”
Each of the partners was effusive about the advancement of Downtown KC locally and across the country.
“Seattle and a lot of other cities are looking at us now to see what we’re doing right,” Proebstle said. “Kansas City has as much news and activity as any other major city. We’re playing way above our weight.”