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Crowson: The Future Of Century II

Richard Crowson

I’m a fan of Wichita’s Century II. It’s an iconic component of our city’s skyline. The architecture is unique and eye-catching. It was designed by John Hickman, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, and it looks like it. Sand-colored pillars represent our Kansas wheat fields. The baby-blue domed roof is a reminder of our big, beautiful Kansas sky.

Lit up at night it looks like a giant flying saucer has landed downtown. That’s weird and that’s wonderful. Who wants our city to look like a clone of every other urban dwelling place? We shouldn’t look like a city that has Des Moines-ites trudging around it in snow boots. We shouldn’t look like a city that has cigar-chomping Oklahoma oil barons trying to walk bowlegged as if they were real cowboys.

Is it any wonder the issue of Century II’s future has beamed itself smack dab into the middle of our mayoral race? People don’t want this beautiful building felled by a wrecking ball. And they have reasons to be suspicious of the decision-making process. I support the new baseball stadium, but the negotiations were about as transparent as a glass of Arkansas River water with a tablespoon full of College Hill basement sludge stirred into it.

Our city officials should have thought of the implications of their backroom negotiating before they kept the public so uninformed about that deal. They set a precedent that set many people’s nerves right on edge.

Unless aliens emerge from our beloved flying saucer convention center and zap us all with, I don’t know, a powerful Valium ray or something, the Century II issue is going to get hotter and hotter.

Richard Crowson is not only a editorial commentator for KMUW. He's also a cartoonist, an artist and a banjo player.