Monthly archives for May, 2016

10 Kansas City Buildings Celebrating 100 Years

Here at Helix we love old buildings, so it’s no surprise that our own office has quite a history. It was built in 1916 as the Exide Battery Factory and officially turns 100-years-old this year. We shared a blog post last week about the history of our own building and it made us curious what other buildings in Kansas City share a similar history. Here are some of our favorites!

1. Exide Battery Depot (Helix Architecture + Design), 1916

Located in the heart of the Crossroads at 17th and Walnut, the Exide Battery Building is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of thirteen buildings that are part of the historic Walnut Street Warehouse and Commercial Historic District. It was originally designed by architect Herman Stroeh and built by Fogel Construction.

Read the full history of the Helix building from last week’s blog.

Historic Exide Battery Deport photo | The interior of the Helix building before construction began. Historic Exide Battery Deport photo | The interior of the Helix building before construction began.

2. H.E. Lee Mercantile Company, 1917

This building located in the Crossroads Historic Freight District – 2019 Wyandotte – was built in the early 1900’s. It was home to the H.D. Lee Mercantile Company, simply “Lee” today.  A producer of work apparel, namely denim, the building was completed in 1917, shortly after Lee’s invention of the “Union-All” overalls. These overalls, which could quickly be pulled over work wear would become the official uniform of American Doughboys in 1917 during WWI. This manufacturing and distribution center operated until mid-century when a flood wiped out the entirety of the factory’s merchandise. Today the building is home to the Piper Lofts, but it’s history is a reminder of the creativity and hard work that our great city was founded on.

Lee's Union Alls, invented in 1913 and manufactured in Kansas City's Crossroads Historic Freight District. H.D. Lee Mercantile Company, 1917 | H.D. Lee Mercantile Building in the Historic Freight District of Kansas City, circa 1928.Lee’s Union Alls, invented in 1913 and manufactured in Kansas City’s Crossroads Historic Freight District. H.D. Lee Mercantile Company, 1917. H.D. Lee Mercantile Building in the Historic Freight District of Kansas City, circa 1928.

3. Union Station, 1914

This monumental and iconic 850,000 square foot building, located at 30 W. Pershing Road, is one of the most stunning buildings in the city. During it’s lifetime as a functioning train station, until the 1980’s when the station closed, this space accommodated hundreds of thousands of passengers. Traffic at Union Station peaked during WWI with nearly 80,000 trains passing through the station (approximately 270 trains a day)! To give an idea of scale, the three major arches on the front facade are nearly 90 feet in height. Most recently it was the location of the biggest rally Kansas City has ever seen- the celebration of the Kansas City Royal’s World Series Championship. Reminding the city that, even at 100 years old, she still knows how to party.

Union Station during construction in the 1910's & Union Station last fall during the Royal's Celebration rally. Union Station during construction in the 1910’s & Union Station last fall during the Royal’s Celebration rally.

4. Coca-Cola Building (Western Auto Building), 1914

You may know this uniquely shaped 12-story building on 21st and Grand as the Western Auto Building, but this 100 year old treasure was once the regional headquarters of Coca-Cola in Kansas City. Built in 1914, this building was designed based on the pie-shaped plot of land it was to be built on. The building was later sold to Western Auto in 1948, and it’s iconic “Western Auto” sign was placed on top of it in 1952. This building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988 and is now is home to residential loft condos. From Coke to cars to condos, this pie in sky is a great slice of KC history.

Coca-Cola Buiding, built by the Candler family (owners of the soda company) and designed by Arthur C. Tufts. With the curved facade of the building, it may be one of Tufts most unique designs. | An original plan of the building, part of the building's 1988 submission for the National Register of Historic Places. Coca-Cola Buiding, built by the Candler family (owners of the soda company) and designed by Arthur C. Tufts. With the curved facade of the building, it may be one of Tufts most unique designs. An original plan of the building, part of the building’s 1988 submission for the National Register of Historic Places.

5. First Children’s Mercy Hospital (Kansas City University), 1915

Construction on Children’s Mercy Hospital’s first hospital building was completed in 1915 at 1750 Independence Avenue. That hospital would eventually become the home of Kansas City University‘s administration building in 1921. In 2015 that building, as well as their academic center were renovated  in partnership with Helix to ensure their students can utilize it for the next 100 years. Interestingly enough, although the school and building both had their starts separate of one another, they are both celebrating their centennial in the same year. Congrats KCU on 100 years!

The former Children's Mercy Hospital, now home to Kansas City University's Administration Building, was recently renovated by Helix. The former Children’s Mercy Hospital, now home to Kansas City University’s Administration Building, was recently renovated by Helix.

6. Federal Reserve Bank, 1914

The first Federal Reserve Bank building in Kansas City, located at 928 Grand, opened in 1914, as a temporary home, until the official building across the street, at 925 Grand, could be built and opened in 1921. That building, was home to President Harry S. Truman’s office following his return from the White House in 1953 until the Truman Library opened four years later. Pictured below is the location at 925 Grand in the historic Financial District of KC; the bank announced its relocation to 29th & Main in 2002, just south of Liberty Memorial, where it houses The Money Museum. There you can see billions of dollars in the vault, hold a 27 lb. gold bar or explore President Truman’s impressive coin collection.

Federal Reserve Building building on 9th & Grand circa 1928, and now in present day. Federal Reserve Building building on 9th & Grand circa 1928, and now in present day.

7. Rockhurst College (Rockhurst University), 1914

Construction of Sedgwick Hall, located on the westside of Rockhurst‘s campus (53rd & Troost), was completed in 1914. Thus began many young men’s high school education. The 25 acres of land had been purchased by Reverend Michael Dowling, the founder of the college, in 1909. College courses were first offered in 1917 and today this campus educates roughly 3,000 students. Today, Sedgwick Hall houses Mabee Theater, classrooms and several faculty offices.

Sedgwick Hall, built in 1914, was the first building on the Rockhurst University campus. First graduating class at Rockhurst College. Sedgwick Hall, built in 1914, was the first building on the Rockhurst University campus. First graduating class at Rockhurst College.

8. Paseo YMCA, 1914

Built in 1914 after Julius Rosenwald pushed residents of the city to raise $80,000, this YMCA was the first civic center in KC built to serve African Americans. However, the building’s most significant historic value lies in the year 1920. That was the year eight independent black negro baseball team owners met over lunch in this very spot. They formed the Negro National League and later the Negro Leagues. Just a short walk down from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the space was just recently converted into the Buck O’Neil Education & Research Center, the latest addition to the museum. This historically and culturally rich building is an important part of Kansas City past. Seeing it restored and used today brings so much to the 18th & Vine district.

The Paseo YMCA was a large community effort that successfully resourced the neighborhood with the YMCA's facilities. The Paseo YMCA was a large community effort that successfully resourced the neighborhood with the YMCA’s facilities.

The north side of the Paseo YMCA building, today the Buck O'Neil Education & Research Center, is home to these murals depicting the Kansas City Monarchs. The south side of the Paseo YMCA building, today the Buck O’Neil Education & Research Center, is home to these murals depicting the Kansas City Monarchs.

9. Muehlebach Hotel (Marriott Downtown), 1915

The son of Muehlebach Beer Company‘s founder, George E. Muehlbach Jr., bought the former First Baptist Church on the southwest corner of 12th & Baltimore in 1913. After demolishing the building, he completed this 12 story hotel for $2 million dollars in 1915. The hotel went onto be visited by every President from Theodore Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan, and celebrities such as Helen Keller, Ernest Hemingway, Babe Ruth, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and The Beatles. After changing ownership several times from 1960 until 1996, Marriott Hotels bought the building and made it into an extension of their existing downtown location. The original lobby and ballrooms have been restored and are used today as banquet halls.

Historic Muehlebach Hotel as it was in 1915 seen in this promotional post card. The State Suite was the location that the Muehlebach's finest guests would have stayed - including many U.S. Presidents. The Plantation Grill inside historic Muehlebach Hotel. Historic Muehlebach Hotel as it was in 1915 seen in this promotional post card. The State Suite was the location that the Muehlebach’s finest guests would have stayed – including many U.S. Presidents. The Plantation Grill inside historic Muehlebach Hotel.

10. Firestone Building, 1915

Built in 1915 by Firestone Tire & Rubber, this building was the largest investment the company had made to date: $300,000. Harvey S. Firestone chose Kansas City mainly for its “good roads,” and its central location to many farming communities and business opportunities – knowing the farming industry would be a key to the success of his company.

At the southeast corner of 20th & Grand, this site was considered midtown 100 years ago, but today it is a part of the Crossroads Arts District. Currently the first and eighth floors are used as an event space with other commercial tenants occupying the other floors of the building. If you look closely when driving by, you can still see the glowing historic Firestone letters in the windows – one letter on each floor.

The Firestone building today, with historical sign lettering, used as an event space. This image of the elevations were a part of its submission for the National Register of Historic Places. The Firestone building today, with historical sign lettering, used as an event space. This image of the elevations were a part of its submission for the National Register of Historic Places.


From Battery Depot to Design Laboratory – 100 Years of History

One-hundred years ago the the Electric Storage Battery Company opened a new Exide Battery Depot at the corner of 17th and Walnut Streets in Kansas City, Missouri. Today, that building is home to the Helix Architecture + Design team. As we celebrate this milestone occasion, it seemed appropriate to dig a bit deeper into the history behind these four walls.

Designed in 1916 by German-born Kansas City architect Herman Stoeh, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of thirteen buildings that are part of the historic Walnut Street Warehouse and Commercial Historic District. According to National Park Service records, “the introduction and ensuing success of the cable car and electric trolley had much to do with the overall development of the Walnut Street Warehouse and Commercial District area.”

Exide HistoricHistoric image of 1629 Walnut / The original newspaper announcement for the building in the May 13, 1916 issue of Electrical Review and Western Electrician Magazine.

Innovative Beginnings

The Electric Storage Battery Co. had it’s start and major boom in business growth in the late 1800’s. The batteries – or “Chloride Accumulators” as they were called – were on the cutting edge and as soon as their usefulness caught on, demand picked up. Their first big break into the automotive industry was an order for 13,000 cells to power six new electric streetcars in Philadelphia. This shift in demand forced the company into larger facilities. From there, the company moved onto luxury railroad cars, small batteries for fans, sewing machines, telephone exchanges and phonographs, and then in 1898, the first submarine in the U.S. This same technology was even used to transmit the first transcontinental telephone service and wireless telegraph transmission.

Exide Battery BrandHistoric Exide battery advertisements throughout the years

In 1910, the company developed it’s first new battery used in electric taxicabs with greater energy capacity and less weight. These models bore the “Exide” brand name for the first time. From that time on, the company was pioneering automobile battery technology. The Exide Battery Depot at 17th and Walnut was one of many locations that manufactured, stored and sold these innovative new batteries.

A Second Life

As with many buildings in the Crossroads, the Exide Battery Depot sat abandoned for many years before Helix renovated the two story structure into our offices in 2003.  We retained the historic integrity of the building while transforming the empty interior space into a people-centered design laboratory dedicated to building community and inspiring collaboration. From within these walls our talented team has impacted the lives of thousands of people who live, work and play in the spaces we design.

Helix Before1629 Walnut before Helix renovated the building

Fifty percent of the building is a community gathering space, which we have used to host a wide variety of social events and arts performances. A modern fireplace serves as the literal and figurative heart of the building. Open workstations, quiet alcoves and standing-height meeting spaces fill the design studio upstairs. Throughout the entire office there are boards lined with sketches, inspiration images and plans for buildings that we are bringing to life. 

Helix events

helix after

With solar panels on our roof and Electric Vehicle charging stations out back, our building has also become a test bed for sustainable technology. From automobiles to architecture, we’re proud to know that those who went before us were pioneering in their field and we look forward to carrying the torch from here!

Sources:

http://www.exide.com/Media/files/The%20History%
20of%20Exide%20Technologies.pdf
http://dnr.mo.gov/shpo/nps-nr/99001158.pdf
http://www.exide.com/en/about/locations.aspx


Helix’s Erin Stork wins MADA ELEV^TE Award

Every other year the IIDA Mid America Chapter honors design professionals that are leading the way in the region at their MADA ELEV^TE awards. We are incredibly proud that Helix’s own, Erin Stork was honored with the Aloft Award, which recognizes an emerging designer who has shown a fresh, artistic and thoughtful approach to interior design.

Erin Stork, 2016 MADA Elevate Award Winner

Anyone that has met, Erin knows the passion she exudes for design, but those of us who work alongside her get to see how that passion is applied to elevating how people experience the spaces around them. It is evident that for her, everything is about people. Not just how a space looks, but how it makes a person feel. She puts herself in the shoes of the user and completely immerses herself in the experience of each space.

Erin3

Erin’s ability to communicate spans multiple mediums. She is adept at the latest technology but always fleshes ideas out by pen and marker first, creating extraordinary hand sketches that resonate with clients and help them understand how the vision translates through to each detail.  Her enthusiasm is contagious to clients and coworkers alike.

Erin Stork Sketches

As Helix principal, Jay Tomlinson shared, “Erin has an incredible eye. It is one of those innate traits in great designers that cannot be taught or trained – you either have it, or you don’t. Erin has it. She sees the world through a lens of beauty that is both refined and raw and has the unique ability to translate that in a way that brings others along for the ride. As she continues to grow as a designer she consistently applies her skills and passion in new ways. I am excited to watch her continue to grow into one of our city’s most brilliant designers.”

2016 MADA Elevate Awards

Erin is also committed to elevating the design community as a whole, which is reflected in her extensive involvement with IIDA. In her current role as the Communications Chair for the City Center Board, she has led graphic design and marketing for the organization’s recurring events, helping to create new identities that will make it easier to promote them from year-to-year.

KCU Admin Building | Helix Architecture + Design | JE Dunn | Henderson Engineers

Even prior to joining the board Erin was an active volunteer and committee member for some of IIDA’s largest events, including Color + Couture, the annual 5K, and Portfolio + Professionals.  Erin also donated her time and design talent to assist local non-profit Live KC with the transformation of Barney Allis Plaza into “The Backyard” a hub of outdoor activity in the heart of downtown Kansas City.

Erin believes in the power of design to improve people’s lives and is a passionate advocate for the role it can play in elevating every aspect of our daily experiences. She brings this enthusiasm to her clients, our community and to our office each day. We are unbelievably lucky to have her as part of the Helix team.

Congratulations, Erin! This honor is well deserved.


What is Your Creative Spark?

On Friday night, Helix hosted the design debut of Kansas City Young Audiences‘ new location in Midtown Kansas City. The evening featured good food, great friends and performances from the true inspiration behind the project – the talented KCYA students. These young artists filled our office with music and covered our whiteboards with murals, demonstrating first hand the impact that KCYA has had in shaping their creative spirit.

KCYA

As an organization that has an unwavering commitment to arts education, KCYA believes that every child deserves the creative spark that the arts ignite – we couldn’t agree more. For fun, we asked guests (kids and adults, alike) to share their own creative spark that inspired their passion for the arts. The responses ranged from people, to places and experiences.

“My grandma – the very best storyteller ever!”

“I played the brown cow in the first grade play and fell in love with performing”

“My father who showed me how to build, construct and schedule with Legos, then wood tree houses, then houses”

“Dancing in my underwear to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture as a toddler”

“My elementary school art teacher, who is still one of my greatest inspirations.”

“I saw the Wizard of Oz at Starlight when I was 6 and knew that I wanted to be on stage”

We are unbelievably proud that the building we are designing will help KCYA expand their programming and their reach so that they can nurture the creative spark in even more children throughout Kansas City.

IMG_1192_cropped

KCYA  purchased and will be renovating the building at 3732 Main Street in the heart of Midtown Kansas City to be the organization’s first permanent home in its 55 years in operation. The building’s location offers increased visibility, a central location for youths across the metro and the opportunity to build upon the continued revitalization happening along Main Street.

“Our new location will enable us to further our mission of providing transformational arts experiences to children from across the city, particularly children in the urban community” said Qiana Thomason, KCYA Board President.

Design

The design for the 18,000 sq. ft. space was on display for guests at Friday’s event. It features a flexible interior environment that will serve the educational, workplace, event and performance functions of the organization. The new space will include dance studios, a multi-purpose classroom for art and theatre classes, a mixed-use performance and event space as well as offices for the staff.

“Purchasing a new home for KCYA is very exciting, but more importantly this new home will allow us to engage more children in the arts, providing them with opportunities to discover new ways of seeing things and expressing themselves. We are looking forward to the day when our home is filled with children singing, dancing, acting, drawing and creating,” said Martin English, KCYA Executive Director.

kcya

Construction is anticipated to begin in July and KCYA will move into the new space by the end of 2016. The first acting, dance and music classes will begin in early 2017.  McCown Gordon Construction is providing construction management services.

The Kansas City Star and KCUR recently published great articles on the project and we look forward to sharing updates on this transformative project as it moves forward.

More information on KCYA and their mission to engage all youth in the arts, promote creativity, and inspire success in education can be found on their website.