© The American

Feast your eyes on The American restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri. 

Jillian Kramer
March 07, 2018

A restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri has earned the honor of the James Beard Foundation’s Design Icon Award, which designates it the most influential restaurant in terms of design this year.

The American restaurant opened its doors in 1974 in Kansas City’s Crown Center, and it quickly “became the conceptual parent of all the over-the-top top-of-the-building restaurants that followed,” according to a press release from the James Beard Foundation.

To reach three-story-high restaurant, guests take an elevator, entering a modest entry that opens into a whopping 6,500-square-feet space. Picture it: “terraced landings create an enormous glass lined theater with views to the city visible below,” the press release says, while the restaurant’s “lacy Gothic-inspired bentwood rosette-topped pillars above not only lend a dining under the trees feel, but—because they line the ceiling—make for an intriguing view from the street below. Miles of wood louvers cover the sheets of glass adding to the sense of tree-filtered light and making a very large space feel quite intimate.”

Many of the restaurant’s original features and designs have remained intact, a requirement of receiving the Design Icon Award. As the press release explains, “A dining space’s design must have remained substantially unchanged for at least 20 years” to be considered for the award. Its, ahem, crowning feature—its wood tracery canopy—is one of the defining features that has survived inside the restaurant since it opened some 40 years ago.

The American was designed by Warren Platner, who also designed the original Windows on the World restaurant in the World Trade Center and Ford Foundation’s headquarters.

“We are honored to receive the Design Icon Award," says Stacey Paine, president of Crown Center Redevelopment Corporation, which owns The American restaurant. “Warren Platner created a unique design, timeless in nature and a wonderful example of great architecture inspiring those around it. We are proud to have The American recognized.”