Monthly archives for December, 2016

15 December, 2016 | Historic Renovation, Renovation, Workplace

Corrigan Station Renovation Brings Historic Tie to the Kansas City Streetcar Full Circle

Today marks the long-awaited opening of the renovated Thomas Corrigan Building at 19th & Walnut. The project, which began in April 2015, is just the latest completed project in Helix’s longstanding experience restoring historic buildings in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District.

Historic Thomas Corrigan Building, Kansas CityPhotos of the historic Thos. Corrigan Building, taken in 1981 for the building’s National Register of Historic Places application.

The 10-story Thomas (Thos.) Corrigan Building, completed in 1921, was originally developed by the Corrigan family and designed by Keene & Simpson architects. The four brothers, often referred to as the “Corrigan boys,” came to Kansas City from Canada in the late 1800’s. The family, and especially Thomas, would play a major role in developing Kansas City’s street railway lines, first with mule-drawn cars in the 1870’s, and then later electrical cars in the 20th Century — creating the city’s first streetcar franchise, the Metropolitan Street Railway Company. The historic connection between Kansas City streetcars and Thomas Corrigan makes the KC Streetcar stop outside of the new Corrigan Station come full circle back to its namesake. The original building was reportedly built for Corrigan’s four daughters, and was managed by his grandson Colonel Thomas C. Bourke for many years.

From Left to Right: Initial mule-drawn carriages in Kansas City in 1870. 12th & Walnut, populated with streetcars in 1930. Thomas’ brother and partner in railway development, Bernard Corrigan.From Left to Right: Initial mule-drawn carriages in Kansas City in 1870. 12th & Walnut, populated with streetcars in 1930. Thomas’ brother and partner in railway development, Bernard Corrigan.

The building’s primary tenant from 1921-1931 was the Gateway Station Post Office — hence the choice of Corrigan Station for the development’s new name.

In the 1930’s and 40’s, the Donnelly Garment Company occupied the building. The brand was founded in 1919 by Nell Donnelly Reed (Nelly Don) and quickly became known for its ready-to-wear dresses that were as beautiful as they were functional. She was quoted by the New York Times stating a goal to “make women look pretty when they are doing the dishes.” The company would later become the largest manufacturer of women’s clothing worldwide in the 1950’s and one of the most famous companies in Kansas City.

nelly_don_corrigan

The factory operated out of Corrigan station during it’s prime production years.

corrigan_loom_renderingsAs the most notable tenant in the history of the Corrigan Building, the Nelly Don dress company occupied the building from 1927-1948. The brand was the inspiration for a large wooden wall installation in the main lobby. The installation, fabricated by Hinge Woodworks, is an abstract take on a loom, the device used to weave cloth. The ‘loom wall’ creates visual interest and imitates the appearance of thread being manipulated through the wooden fins. The piece is meant to appear as though you’ve caught a loom in action, with the ‘threads’ moving up from the floor to the ceiling.

By 1947, Nelly Don outgrew the building and was replaced by the Veteran’s Administration – who leased the entire 123,000 square foot building for over 10 years. At that time, Col. Bourke was still managing the property and made several updates the structure, developed site parking to the west and eventually sold in 1977. In 1981 the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places by it’s then owner, Alan J. Bronfman, president of Distributors, Inc.. From that time — on with very few short-term tenants — the commercial use of the building gradually declined until it was purchased in 2013 by co-developers Copaken Brooks and 3D Development.

19th-and-Main-Exterior_WEBcorrigan_renderingsThe renovation features 9-stories of office space and a 1-story of ground level retail space. The design team worked to preserve the historic character of the building in accordance with National Park Service preservation guidelines. We imagine the Corrigan family would be extremely proud to have their 100-year-old building restored — and with excellent connectivity to downtown Kansas City, via the new streetcar stop located within steps of the doors.

In addition to renovating the existing 123,000-square-foot structure, Helix designed the adjacent three-story structure. Once constructed it will provide additional retail space and covered parking on the first floor and expanded floor-plates of 25,000-square-feet on the second and third floor for office tenants. An event space was added on the rooftop to serve building tenants and host special events.

What an extraordinary project for the Main Street corridor and the continued revitalization of downtown Kansas City!


12 December, 2016 | Awards, Leadership, Recognition

Helix Architecture + Design named ‘Firm of the Year’

On Tuesday evening, Helix Architecture + Design was named 2016 Firm of The Year by AIA Kansas City. The award is given annually to one member firm that has shown extraordinary leadership in advancing the cause of architecture and its role in improving the quality of the built environment.

firm-of-the-year_cropped

AIA president, Dale Duncan cited the success of Helix’s merger with Blackbird Design Studio, recent local and national design awards and the firm’s leadership on key high-profile projects, such as the Kansas City Police Department’s Leon Mercer Jordan East Patrol Campus, as reasons for selection.

“Helix recently led design of the Leon Jordan East Patrol Campus, a transformative project in a depressed neighborhood on the east side. Helix set a higher standard for minority and women-owned business participation for the design team on that project and exceeded all goals, with a team of diverse architects, consultants and engineers in our community,” said Duncan. “Helix’s leadership is representative of the intent of our members to provide more equity in the way that we practice, and to raise the bar of diversity for the future of our members and our profession. It is quite remarkable what was accomplished.”

leon-mercer-jordanThe Leon Mercer Jordan East Patrol Campus includes a gymnasium, computer lab and meeting room that are available for community use.

AIA Kansas City accepts nominations for Firm of the Year from the general membership and selection is made through consensus by the entire board. The award was announced at AIA’s annual holiday party with over 200 local members in attendance.

“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by our peers,” said Reeves Wiedeman, founding principal of Helix Architecture + Design. “Helix was founded on a commitment to design excellence and community leadership nearly 25 years ago. This award is acknowledgement that remaining true to your core values and surrounding yourself with extraordinary people, both clients and staff, who share those values is the foundation for success.”

The award caps off a banner year for Helix, which has included the successful merger with Blackbird Design Studio, recognition by Architect magazine as one of the Top 50 architecture firms for design in the country and receipt of the Project of the Year award for the Kansas City Police Headquarters Renovation at AIA Kansas City’s Design Excellence Awards.

“We are proud of the accolades we have received this year but what truly energizes us is the development we see happening throughout our city,” said Jay Tomlinson, founding principal with Helix. “With each building we renovate, each block our clients infuse with new investment, we are adding to the momentum of Kansas City. We are proud to play a role in not only shaping the built environment but also how residents and visitors alike experience our community.”

completed-projects-2016A selection of the Helix projects completed in 2016

Helix has celebrated the completion of projects throughout the Kansas City region in 2016, including the Boulevard Brewing Co. Visitor Center, Corrigan Building renovation, Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences Administration Building, the International Apartments, Synergy Services Children’s Center, East 9 at Pickwick Plaza North Tower, Park University’s Norrington Academic Center, Academy for Integrated Arts new charter school, Kansas City Young Audiences midtown location and the adaptive reuse of 1700-1710 Wyandotte.

AIA Kansas City also recognized two of our clients with awards; Eric Bosch, City Architect with the City of Kansas City, Missouri received the Architect of the Year award and the Kansas City Police Department received the President’s Award. Other individual AIA members were recognized for their contributions to the profession, the community and the built environment.

Congratulations to the entire Helix team and all who were honored. We are proud to work among individuals with such talent and commitment to advancing our community!


2 December, 2016 | Helix People, Leadership

Announcing Helix Promotions

Helix is pleased to announce Evan Fox, AIA has been elevated to principal status and Miranda Groth, AIA has been named an associate.

Miranda Groth, Evan Fox

Miranda Groth is a project manager and market leader for Helix Architecture + Design’s higher education practice. Throughout her career she has developed a specialized focus on academic facilities and is recognized for her ability to deliver complex projects on schedule and within budget. Since joining Helix in 2013, she has managed nearly 150,000 square feet of projects for Kansas City University, including the complex adaptive reuse of Weaver Auditorium into the new KCU Academic Center.  Most recently Miranda is managing the renovation of Hill Hall at Missouri State University and just completed the adaptive reuse of a 1950’s Bowling alley into a new home for the Academy for Integrated Arts charter school.

Evan Fox is a project manager and senior project architect with over 12 years of experience. His ability to guide high-profile projects, such as AMC’s Theatre Support Center and the Corrigan Building Renovation, from inception to completion makes him an incredible asset to the firm and our clients. Evan is known for  his well-rounded  capabilities with design detailing, consultant coordination, construction management and technical programs. Prior to moving to Kansas City he worked in Chicago on corporate headquarters and high-rise residential projects. Evan is also a leader in the local design community and an active AIA member — serving as AIA KC Design Awards Co-Chair and the AIA KC Pillars Steering Committee Chair.

blvd_evan_miranda

The Helix leadership team at our semi-annual company meeting, held at the Boulevard Visitor’s Center.

We asked Miranda & Evan a few questions to help you get to know these two key leaders a bit more.

Q: What made you choose a career in architecture? 

E: I have always loved building things. Even more so, I like the process of figuring out how you start from scratch with an idea and turn it into a building. Because building stuff is cool, but telling people how to build stuff is even cooler.

M: The influence of a grade school art teacher who noticed that I always wanted to draw rooms and buildings instead of objects or people. Her willingness to share books on the works of Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan made me consider architecture a possibility.

Q: What’s your design philosophy? 

E: Work with good designers.

M: No fuss. I prefer everything has a purpose and a place.

Q: What brought you to Helix? 

E: The people. You have to care about what you do and who you work with. Otherwise, why do it?

M: Helix provides me the opportunity to share and develop my passions – restoration of old and historic buildings, Kansas City community involvement and desire to make a positive impact on the places people learn, work and live.

Q: Do you have any hobbies? 

E: My hobbies include BBQ smoking, playing golf and raising a pretty awesome kiddo.

M: My husband and I have made restoring our 90-year-old house our hobby. When we’re not slinging hammers or plastering, I enjoy baking, gardening, crafting and most any other “old lady” hobby as my profile suggests!

Q: What’s a guilty pleasure of yours?

E: Listening to too much Journey, Chicago, REO Speedwagon, STYX, Boston, Foreigner, etc.

M: My celebrity crush is Jeff Goldblum!


We are beyond thrilled to have these two exceptional professionals as a part of the Helix leadership team, and we congratulate both of you on your many accomplishments. Cheers to Miranda and Evan!