Walking down Oak after the Shakespeare Festival this past summer, we noticed a lit-up new sidewalk at the Kansas City Art Institute. In the dark, an ever-changing sequence of colors twinkled from the concrete (it's paved with light-emitting-diode technology) leading to the Lawrence and Kristina Dodge Painting Building. The new building opened August 30; facing Oak, it glints with warm flecks of copper and zinc that are already weathering naturally, turning from purple to a rich bronze. The cosmetic patina outside houses desperately needed new space inside: five well-lighted studios, two drawing rooms, two classrooms, a gallery and lounge, a courtyard, a computer lab, faculty offices, storage closets, lockers and restrooms. It's the Art Institute's first new studio building in 35 years. "I think the students and faculty in other departments are jealous," admits KCAI spokeswoman Anne Canfield. "Of course, this just gives us a standard to aspire to everywhere on campus." The $7 million building was designed by a local architect, Kirk Gastinger of Gastinger Walker Harden, and named for the Dodges in gratitude for their $5 million donation. Sure, there's a gorgeous new H&R Block Building downtown. But we still believe that the artists who revitalized the Crossroads are the ones who sparked downtown's revitalization in the first place. Now it'll be easier for the Art Institute to keep luring painters to town for years to come.