16 October, 2015 | Awards

Helix Brings Home Two Design Excellence Awards From AIA Central States Region

Each year the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Central States Region recognizes the most exceptional projects and firms throughout the five-state region at their annual Excellence in Design awards. The 2015 awards ceremony, hosted in Des Moines, Iowa, recognized the work of Helix Architecture + Design for two distinguished Kansas City institutions, the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) and Kansas City University (KCU). The renovation and expansion of the KCPD Headquarters was one of only three projects to receive the highest award, an Honor Award in the Architecture category. The KCU Academic Center received a Merit Award in the Interior Architecture category. AIA Central States received over two-hundred submissions from across the region.

“Although they each have their own unique mission, both KCPD and KCU are cornerstone institutions within the Kansas City community,” said Reeves Wiedeman, principal with Helix. “Their investment in these facilities reflects their commitment to creating a quality environment for the people they serve and their employees. We are extremely proud to see our work for both organizations recognized among the best architecture in the region.”

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The renovation and expansion of the KCPD Headquarters was designed to re-position the facility for another 70 years of service to the community while respecting the character of the historic structure. An important goal of the project was to increase transparency and expand police interaction with the community. This involved extensive changes to the first floor including the addition of a community room, which allows the public to engage in the Board of Police Commissioners meetings and serves as a venue for Police community outreach programming.

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Jury comments for the Police Headquarters included:

“A beautifully integrated new public face for the Kansas City Police Department uses a series of strong elements to create transparency and openness.”

“The appropriately scaled addition is organized under a hovering patterned, coffered concrete structural slab, giving the space a strong graphic element while providing daylighting and concealing utilities.”

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The KCU Academic Center renovation transformed an underutilized, 1,500-seat auditorium into a state-of-the-art learning facility and hub for student activity. The design team developed the innovative concept of stacking two lecture halls within the footprint of the existing auditorium. This resourceful solution saved nearly a third of what it might otherwise cost to build a new lecture facility. The Academic Center’s transformation from a seldom-used facility to a hub of active learning and collaboration has given KCU students and faculty a truly functional, beautiful new home.

“It’s an honor to be recognized for the work we have done to create the most student-focused environment in the nation,” said Marc B. Hahn, DO, president and chief executive officer of KCU. “Helix Architecture + Design has been a true partner throughout this undertaking, as they understand the needs of our students and embrace our vision.”

Jury comments for the Academic Center included:

“Beautiful redesign of an underutilized lecture hall, expanding its utility significantly.”

“Clear distinction between upper and lower lecture halls is quite nice – plaster -vs- wood, but both relate to one-another and hold together as a unified project.”

“Details are quite beautiful – sweeping curves of the plaster work and craftsmanship of the wood liner.”

“Love the subtle innovation of having two rows per lecture hall tier to allow for small group discussions – great idea.”

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The 2015 AIA Central States design award jury was comprised of nationally recognized designers, including Jennifer Yoos, Principal at VJAA; William Baxley, Vice President and Director of Design at Leo A Daly; and Marc Swackhamer, Head + Associate Professor, School of Architecture, University of Minnesota. In order to be eligible for consideration projects had to be completed within that last five years and designed by an AIA Central States member or located in the five-state region, which includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Congratulations to our clients at the Kansas City Police Department and Kansas City University, our engineering and construction partners and all of our design team members. Successful projects are only achieved through strong relationships across all team members and these awards belong to all of you.