5.4.7 Arts Center
This spirited, 1,680-square-foot box, with green glass louvers and a wall that swings open like an airplane hangar, is conspicuous for any number of reasons. For one thing, it has a mini wind farm out front. It also has geothermal heating and cooling, a photovoltaic array, and a green roof. And like everything designed and built by the architecture students at Studio 804, part of the University of Kansas at Lawrence, it is also an aggressively modern design. The 5.4.7 Arts Center is named for the date a tornado nearly wiped this little western Kansas town off the map, and it is the first public building to rise from the ruins, a bellwether for the greening of Greensburg. Prior to the tornado the arts organization was merely a dream of its founder, Stacy Barnes, who works as an administrative assistant for the town (and oversees the gift shop at Greensburg’s other attraction, the world’s largest hand-dug well). Barnes believes that the arts advance the healing process and help people unwind from the hard work of rebuilding. To that end, she’s hung paintings, offered ceramics classes, and started an outdoor summer movie program. “We’re trying to broaden everyone’s horizons,” she says.