A major Midwestern design festival, now in its 14th year, kicks into high gear next week with talks and events on the creative process, sustainability, branding, urbanism and design, the allied arts and much more.

KC Design Week, which will run from April 18-27 in Kansas City, Missouri, highlights the emergence over the last few decades of the city’s burgeoning creative industries and its prominence and influence as a national design center. The program is ambitious, offering inspiration, expertise and influences from throughout the region and globally.

Highlights include an insightful talk on the success of Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District, titled “(Re)Designing an Urban Neighborhood,” which brings together engineer Robert Harris of Dialectic, who is also president of the Crossroads Community Association, with architect and educator David Dowell, whose firm, El Dorado, is based in the Kansas City district as well as in Portland, Oregon, and works globally.

Kansas City Crossroads Hotel

Photo courtesy of El Dorado

The talk will take place at the Center for Architecture & Design in the heart of the Crossroads Arts District. Harris and Dowell will offer their firsthand account of “how one neighborhood is redesigning what urban curb appeal means.” The two community leaders will delve into acclaimed initiatives transforming the Crossroads, “from rethinking the relationships between automobiles and pedestrians to improving the microclimate by introducing green into a concrete jungle.”

Expected to be an engaging discussion on grassroots efforts — the challenges, the successes, the lessons learned and the strategies that truly make a difference — Harris and Dowell will share the secrets to establishing a reliable funding source and tapping into local and national grants to fuel community improvements.

Participants will then take a walking tour of 20th Street, a captivating case study on urban transformation, to see the profound impact that the improvements have had on the Crossroads community.

“Since 2010, KC Design Week has celebrated the value of design and highlighted its impacts on our society,” according to the Center for Architecture & Design in Kansas City. “This collaborative experience offers the community opportunities to interact with all areas of design through meaningful events.”

“Design has the power to inform, connect and inspire our lives,” the Center for Architecture & Design in Kansas City added. “It exists in our buildings, our products, our landscapes, our media and our environments.”