The Gumbel Building is one of the earliest reinforced concrete high-rise buildings in the country. Designed in 1904 by noted Kansas City architect John W. McKecknie, it was constructed as a speculative office building for multiple tenants. Commercial tenants occupied the ground floor. Professional offices occupied the upper floors. In 1947, the Navy renovated the building for recruiting and training operations. In the 1980s, the building was returned to office use and was extensively renovated. The historic stairs and elevator were removed, and new stairs and an elevator were installed in new locations. The historic atrium that rose through the building was decked over on several floors. New storefronts were installed that complement the character of the building but did not replicate any of the historic configuration. When Mark Patel purchased the building in 2012 to rehabilitate it into a hotel, the only significant historic fabric that remained were remnants of a decorative plaster ceiling on the first floor, the original windows, and plaster on the interior perimeter walls.
Rosin Preservation worked closely with WGN Architects on a design that transformed the building into a boutique hotel and restored the historic remnants that remained. While the interior had largely been gutted, the exterior retained excellent integrity. Rather than replace the historic wood windows, the owner decided to restore them. Rosin and WGN communicated with the National Park Service to devise a system that allowed installation of insulated glazing in the existing frames. Another item that was negotiated with the National Park Service was restoration of the first-floor plaster ceiling. The coffered ceiling had been covered for decades and some areas were missing or damaged beyond repair. The owner recognized it was one of the few remaining historic features and decided to restore and feature the ceiling in the new hotel lobby. Hotel rooms on the second floor meant that plumbing lines had to drop below the lobby ceiling in some locations. Rosin and WGN collaborated with NPS to strategically place plumbing lines and ceiling clouds to visibly conceal them as much as possible.
The Gumbel Building, which is located in downtown Kansas City, is now a Hampton Inn that provides 74 guest rooms. The rehabilitation breathed new life into a pocket of downtown that lacked pedestrian life at the southwest corner of the 8th and Walnut intersection.
801 Walnut Street Kansas City, MO