Building Community

written by:
photos by:
September 16, 2011
Originally published in Made in the USA

With a clean-lined new loft building designed by El Dorado Inc., a fleet of hip galleries, and a burgeoning creative class, Wichita is anything but plains.

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  The new outdoor wall mural in progress by artist Seth Depiesse on Main Street.  Courtesy of c 2010 Jake Stangel.
    The new outdoor wall mural in progress by artist Seth Depiesse on Main Street. Courtesy of c 2010 Jake Stangel.
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  Downtown Wichita offers a compelling mix of old—such as a weathered concrete sign by the train tracks at the disused Union Station on Douglas Avenue.  Courtesy of c 2010 Jake Stangel.
    Downtown Wichita offers a compelling mix of old—such as a weathered concrete sign by the train tracks at the disused Union Station on Douglas Avenue. Courtesy of c 2010 Jake Stangel.
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  A patio protected by a steel-and-cedar-slat trellis accommodates a meeting between (left to right) contractor Mark Farha, building owners and developers Brock Oaks and David Farha, and owner and contractor Ted Farha.
    A patio protected by a steel-and-cedar-slat trellis accommodates a meeting between (left to right) contractor Mark Farha, building owners and developers Brock Oaks and David Farha, and owner and contractor Ted Farha.
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  One view of the Finn Lofts' southwest corner includes a cut-out rain screen.  Courtesy of c 2010 Jake Stangel.
    One view of the Finn Lofts' southwest corner includes a cut-out rain screen. Courtesy of c 2010 Jake Stangel.
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  A wider look at the screened patio attached to the Finn Lofts.  Courtesy of c 2010 Jake Stangel.
    A wider look at the screened patio attached to the Finn Lofts. Courtesy of c 2010 Jake Stangel.
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  Loft B tenants Melissa and Keith Bishop downsized from a 3,000 square foot space to a cozy 720 square foot loft. "We downsized our lives," Melissa says. "We streamlined."
    Loft B tenants Melissa and Keith Bishop downsized from a 3,000 square foot space to a cozy 720 square foot loft. "We downsized our lives," Melissa says. "We streamlined."
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  The clean lines and, in Loft R's case, balcony with a view of downtown's skyline suit Robert Vanselow's urbane sensibility. "This was spot on," he says.  Courtesy of c 2010 Jake Stangel.
    The clean lines and, in Loft R's case, balcony with a view of downtown's skyline suit Robert Vanselow's urbane sensibility. "This was spot on," he says. Courtesy of c 2010 Jake Stangel.
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  A social creature who seems to know everyone, Loft J occupant Jamil Malone has hosted several "alcohol-themed" parties and manages to wedge as many as 20 people into his studio. The gatherings are like gallery openings, with the walls of Malone's apartment displaying a roving selection of locally produced art.
    A social creature who seems to know everyone, Loft J occupant Jamil Malone has hosted several "alcohol-themed" parties and manages to wedge as many as 20 people into his studio. The gatherings are like gallery openings, with the walls of Malone's apartment displaying a roving selection of locally produced art.
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  Wichita's OldTown Theatre Grill where you can eat dinner while watching a movie.  Courtesy of c 2010 Jake Stangel.
    Wichita's OldTown Theatre Grill where you can eat dinner while watching a movie. Courtesy of c 2010 Jake Stangel.
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  The Fisch Haus collective, home to resident artists Patrick Duegaw and Elizabeth Stevenson.
    The Fisch Haus collective, home to resident artists Patrick Duegaw and Elizabeth Stevenson.
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  Wichitans satisfy their sweet tooth at the Donut Whole, which serves more than 25 varieties of donuts every day.  Courtesy of c 2010 Jake Stangel.
    Wichitans satisfy their sweet tooth at the Donut Whole, which serves more than 25 varieties of donuts every day. Courtesy of c 2010 Jake Stangel.
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  The photography-focused Gallery at Dock 410.  Courtesy of c 2010 Jake Stangel.
    The photography-focused Gallery at Dock 410. Courtesy of c 2010 Jake Stangel.
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  Architect Douglas Stockman says the building's charcoal-and-orange exterior coloring was "intended to reflect the dynamic character of the neighborhood." Here, it provides a festive backdrop to the residents' semi-annual Finn Lofts community party.
    Architect Douglas Stockman says the building's charcoal-and-orange exterior coloring was "intended to reflect the dynamic character of the neighborhood." Here, it provides a festive backdrop to the residents' semi-annual Finn Lofts community party.
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