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A Less Taxing Environment: IRS Pennway Complex

A highly efficient and sustainable government facility in Kansas City is a model for future IRS centers.

May 01, 2008 |

Kansas City, Mo., is experiencing tremendous construction resurgence, led in great part by the Internal Revenue Service's inviting new $258 million IRS Pennway Complex. The 27-acre project, which consolidates seven regional offices into more than three million gsf, includes the renovation of two landmark buildings and construction of two new buildings and two parking garages.

Securing this prime real estate required a strong partnership between the General Services Administration, the U.S. Postal Service, the IRS, and a private developer.

The USPS occupied the site for decades, operating out of the grand 1930s Main Post Office building, but recently relocated most of its facilities. At this point, the GSA took over the property and hired Pershing Road Development Company to manage the transformation of the site. Architects at the Kansas City offices of BNIM and 360 Architects were tasked with blending old and new while simultaneously meeting GSA requirements for LEED certification.

The architects designed two new facilities, a standalone 70,000-sf warehouse and a 672,000-sf processing center, which had to be integrated with the Main Post Office without overwhelming the older 476,000-sf structure.

The Building Team reduced the new processing center's mass by breaking it up into a set of three connected structures with interior courtyards. The arrangement is reminiscent of a warehouse and alleyway arrangement—in its heyday, the site was a bustling warehouse district that supported the Main Post Office and Union Station. The new building's exterior is clad in precast panels in staggered patterns that bring to mind the region's famous limestone outcroppings.

Under construction manager JE Dunn Construction, the Main Post Office was completely renovated and now serves as the complex's main entrance. The 1914 Rail Express Building at Union Station also was restored.

Not wanting to tax the environment, the IRS complex includes numerous sustainable elements, notably rainwater collection; abundant windows for natural light; exterior sunshades and fritted glass to reduce heat gain (by 40%); construction waste recycling; and use of locally manufactured materials, recycled materials, and certified sustainable wood.

A decorative pool in one of the courtyards doubles as a retention pond for water channeled off the roof of the new warehouse. To further increase building efficiency, about half of the facility can be shut down during the tax off-season, which runs July-January. The Building Team has applied for LEED Silver certification for the project.

Two parking structures—a 3,800-car garage under the processing center and a 1,500-car above-ground garage—are connected to the facility via secure underground moving sidewalks that, at 340 feet in length, constitute the longest continuous people mover in North America.

The GSA, on behalf of the IRS, leases the complex from the developer. The USPS maintains a small presence within the second historic facility on site—the Rail Express Building at Union Station.

The IRS Pennway Complex proved so successful that it is serving as a model for IRS campuses planned for Philadelphia and Andover, Mass.



Bronze Award

IRS Pennway Complex

Kansas City, Mo.

Building Team

Submitting firm: JE Dunn Construction (CM)

Owner/developer: Pershing Road Development Co.

Architects: BNIM; 360 Architects

Structural engineer: Structural Engineering Associates

Electrical engineer: Mark One Electric; GDS Engineers

Mechanical and plumbing engineers: U.S. Engineering Co.; Lankford & Associates

General information

Project size: 3,041,210 gsf

Construction cost: $258 million

Construction time: February 2004 to January 2007

Delivery method: CM at risk
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