Encouraging Inspiration with Burns & McDonnell


Burns & McDonnell has long been a supporter of the rich and diverse arts community in Kansas City. Through its partnership with the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City, the engineering, architecture and consulting firm has helped support local artists across the region gain momentum and develop successful paths for their work.

But the firm’s true inspiration of artists begins at home with its employee-owners.

“We are a culture of employee ownership — individuals are very important as our roles here are crucial to the success of this company,” says Caroline Cooper, a marketing coordinator and author. “Our art program gives us the chance to further demonstrate our sense of individuality and creativity.”

Burns & McDonnell celebrates its artists in an annual art show featuring their work at the world headquarters in Kansas City, Mo. The show ties in with Art@Work, a citywide corporate competition sponsored by the Arts Council, showcasing employees’ talents in visual and literary arts, music, dance, and film.

“We work primarily with engineers and architects, so creativity is a big part of what they do every day,” says Kerri Cole, a marketing coordinator and an art show organizer. “Utilizing the arts either in visual aspects or music performing is just another way to showcase that creativity.”

The annual sharing of art not only inspires others, it fosters the family friendly atmosphere Burns & McDonnell is widely known for.

“It really brings people together who maybe would never work together,” Cole says. “Once you experience your colleagues’ art, you learn something you never knew about them.”

Outside of the annual art show, Burns & McDonnell inspires its employee-owners to share their talents all year long.

Carol Schumacher is one of eight Burns & Mac carolers who began performing at company functions 12 years ago and recently joined the annual art show. The group sang at numerous company luncheons throughout the recent holiday season as its members continue to inspire others to share their artistic talents.

“I was inspired by my colleagues to get involved five many years ago,” says Schumacher, who also sings professionally with the Kansas City Chorus of Sweet Adelines. “It gives me great joy to now be sharing in the inspiration of other Burns & Mac artists.”

Ian Lacy, an assistant engineer, shares in that sentiment.

“Photography gives me the ability to capture beauty and emotion in a single frame and then play that back whenever I want — to slow down my own life and relive those special moments that have been glossed over or forgotten as time has increased in speed,” Lacy says. “It’s great. Not only can I do that for myself, I can do that for other people, too.”

Lacy’s photography has been showcased for several years in the firm’s art show in addition to being featured in marketing materials and other areas of the company.

“I am who I am. When I come to work I don’t automatically become an engineer. When I go home I don’t automatically become a photographer or artist or musician,” Lacy says. “Being part of a company that recognizes we all have different interests and to have it facilitate a venue where I can display my passion lets me feel a lot more integrated.”

Kellie Houx

Kellie Houx is a writer and photographer. A graduate of Park University, she has 20 years of experience as a journalist. As a writer, wife and mom, she values education, arts, family and togetherness.

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