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Downtown Luncheon Features Timely Speaker, Renowned NY Critic with New Ballpark Book

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This year’s Downtown Council Annual Luncheon features a timely keynote speaker, Paul Goldberger, a renowned New York architectural critic with a fresh book titled “BALLPARK: Baseball in the American City.”

With the new owner of the Royals, John Sherman, open to the idea of bringing the team downtown, Goldberger’s book examines how ballparks have evolved to “signal a new way forward for stadium design and for baseball’s role in urban development.

“Goldberger shows how the history of ballparks mirrors Americans’ attitudes toward cities—and at the moment we’re seeing how ballparks are experiencing an act of gentrification,” according to a release.

In addition to Goldberger’s keynote address, this year’s annual luncheon on Jan. 30 will recognize Crossroads legend Suzie Aron with its J. Philip Kirk Jr. Award, its highest honor for people who’ve contributed to the revival of downtown.

Crossroads legend Suzie Aron will be honored with the J. Philip Kirk Jr. Award. (Photo by Julie Denesha courtesy of KCUR)

Aron, who’s real estate firm bears her name, has been an active leader in the Crossroads Community Association since its founding in 2002, and she helped establish First Fridays, the monthly cultural event that draws thousands to downtown.

“Thirty years ago, she saw the potential in a blighted area called the Crossroads,” according to a release from the Downtown Council.

“Ever since, she has worked tenaciously to establish a thriving community that has become the region’s artistic heart.”

In addition to honoring Aron, the event also will recognize several people with its annual Urban Heroes award: art patrons Dick and Evelyn Craft Belger; artist Peregrine Honig; Jennifer Lapka, founder of Rightfully Sewn, and historian Bob Hendrick.

Bill Dietrich, president and CEO of the the Downtown Council, also plans to introduce the organization’s new strategic planning process, “Downtown KC 2030.”

Paul Goldberger’s new book was released last spring.

“In a time when urban centers are revitalizing nationwide…we are imagining how we can shape downtown Kansas City into a more successful urban place, maintaining its authenticity and affordability, while promoting strategies of economic inclusion,” Dietrich said in statement.

Goldberger is a Pulitzer prize winning architectural critic who wrote for The New Yorker from 1997 through 2011. He currently is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. After his luncheon talk, he’ll hold a book signing.

The critic also is scheduled to appear at the Kansas City Public Library Plaza Branch that evening. A reception will begin at 6 p.m. followed by the program at 6:30 p.m.

The Downtown Council annual luncheon will be held in the Kay Barnes Ballroom at the Kansas City Convention Center from noon until 1:30 p.m. More information can be found here.

Prior to the luncheon, there will be a “Spirit of Downtown KC Exhibit” networking event starting at 11 a.m.

(Editor’s note: Beginning in December 2019, CityScene KC has become a paid subscription publication)

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