This Content is Sponsored by Anderson Knight Architects.
Imagine a resilient Wildcat Creek entertainment district. It’s possible. We must only create it.
Wildcat Creek likes to flood, but instead of denying it, fighting it and bearing the costs of demolition and construction every 10 years, the new Manhattan Live! entertainment plaza and ecological park was designed with resilience in mind.
Approaching the district from Seth Child Road and Anderson Avenue, you stop and take in the glass facade of the Midwest Dream Car Collection. There’s a crowd inside, a classic motorcycle club, who has come to see a 1970s superbike that’s traveling the country. A long-haired child and his gray-haired grandfather walk by, and as he points to a Firebird on the second floor, you overhear him telling tall tales about the hot rod that he used to own.
It’s a warm, sunny day, so you follow the rest of the crowd to the rooftop. As you walk, you hear the thwack of golf clubs striking balls behind you at Golf MHK and the requisite cheers from a bachelorette party wrapping up a round of drinks. You hear laughing and joyful chatter from a group of cyclists parking their e-bikes in the bike share rack. No doubt, they’re all here to join the crowd on the rooftop. For car drivers, the pedestrian bridge over Seth Child Road has made this district a park-and-stay, all-day experience, but many take advantage of the ATA bus stop in front of the plaza.
Reaching the rooftop, you’re surprised to see the crowd gathered below, but remember that it’s the Chiefs first preseason game. Since opening, Manhattan Live! has become one of the hottest sports locations in town. With heated pavers, ambient heating and a covered section, the plaza is a year-round, all-weather option for entertainment. In the summer, Tuesday evening classic movies have become one of the town’s favorite events.
Looking out toward Wildcat Creek, you try to count all the people enjoying the trails. On Linear Trail, there’s three joggers, two stroller pushers and two, no, three bicyclists rolling by. Further, out in the ecological park, there are at least 10 people walking around “The Wallow,” as it’s known. A mother passes around sandwiches to two children as her partner wrangles a third from the tallgrass onto the checkered red picnic blanket. Nearby, young lovers stop to look at a pawpaw tree (which has borne fruit again this year). They read the informational sign, smile at one another, and carry on, hand-in-hand, to the next station, which focuses on the role of beavers in waterway management.
Just five years ago, this watershed was considered a problem.
They said that it should be controlled—detained—for doing what creeks in Kansas do. Today, looking out over the ecological park, and the sports fans and drinking buddies, picnicking families, strolling lovers, curious hikers, laughing cyclists and the child who’s wandered back into the tallgrass, it seems that we were fooling ourselves. A creek cannot be contained. We can only detain ourselves.
Click image to enlarge