21 September, 2017 | Awards

DEKC2017 | AIA Kansas City 2016 Project of the Year

In anticipation of their annual Design Excellence Awards being hosted on November 10th, AIA Kansas City is spotlighting the award winning projects from 2016.

Helix was honored to bring home three awards last year, including the top honor of the evening, “Project of the Year” for the renovation and expansion of the Kansas City Police Department’s Headquarters.

Jury member, Steve Ziger, a partner with Ziger/Snead Architects said, “this is civic architecture at its finest.”

The overarching goal of the project was to re-position the facility for another 70-years of service to the community while respecting the character of the historic structure.

A key objective of the design 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.

The pattern of the concrete structural roof system in the new addition is adapted from Art Deco details that are found throughout the historic Police Headquarters building in both ornamental and functional roles.


Comments from the jury comprised of nationally recognized designers included:

 

“The Kansas City Police Dept. project says everything that’s right about how a police department relates to its community. They took a limited program and communicated a welcoming civic presence that communicates that the police are an integral part of their community. This is civic architecture at its finest.”

 

  • Steve Ziger, AIA, partner with Ziger/Snead Architects

 

“This one as soon as I opened up the file it was like, whoa, this is a winner this is probably going to be the grand winner. It was such a powerful and strong statement right from the get go… The program was just really bathrooms, a fire stair and a small meeting room. But what they did with that and how they took the details of the building and transformed that into this whole new ceiling structure that just comes alive at night with light, the incorporation of public art, it really spoke to what a public building can be. And in these times for it to be an addition to the police headquarters of course is a great moment for the community. It was everybody’s number one project.”

  • Luis Bernardo, FAIA, principal with Design Collective, Inc.

 

“The Kansas City Police Department Headquarters was such a beautiful project in many ways but really poignant and timely for us. The day that we got together and reviewed all the projects was a day that the news cycle was completely dominated by communities and struggles frankly with their police departments. At a time when our country is really struggling with these complex issues it was really wonderful to see a project where such an important civic institution as the police department headquarters project really spoke to the strength and spirit of community for Kansas City.”

  • Luanne Greene, FAIA, president of Ayers Saint Gross

2017 Design Excellence Award Winners – Honor & Project of the Year Award – Kansas City Police Department Headquarters from Alistair Tutton Photography on Vimeo.

The project has also received an Honor Award from AIA Central States, an Honor Award from AIA Kansas City, an Arts & Craftsmanship Award from AIA Kansas City, a Preservation Award from Historic KC, a Cornerstone Finalist from the Kansas City EDC, and a Capstone Award from the Kansas City Business Journal.

Great projects only happen through tremendous partnership with all team members involved. Thank you to our clients at the Kansas City Police Department, our construction partners at JE Dunn Construction, our engineering partners and all of our Helix design team members for their efforts to make this project an exceptional space for our community. 

Photography by Michael Robinson.


14 September, 2017 | Helix People, Recognition

Ellen Hailey, AIA

Ellen Hailey
We are excited to announce Ellen Hailey is officially a licensed architect. She has passed all seven of the Architectural Registration Exams (ARE), logged the required Intern Development Program (IDP) hours, and can now formally call herself an architect.

A New Orleans native, Ellen graduated from Tulane in 2012 and joined Helix in 2017. Over the last year, she has been working with clients, such as BicMedia, DEG and Copaken Brooks. We asked Ellen to share her secrets to success and how she plans to celebrate.

Q: Any weird study habits?

A: Keeping my headphones in with no music playing. I was reading a lot of dense material, so I couldn’t always listen to music, but having the headphones in seemed to help me focus.

 

Q: While taking the exams, did you find you have a favorite subject matter?

A: I actually found the vignettes to be sort of fun. This is the drawing section of the exam, using the NCARB software. Each ARE has at least one. Some as many as three. You get a problem to solve (like designing a stair and ramp or laying out a building) with a limited time to draw your solution to satisfy code and ADA standards. I enjoyed the problem solving aspects, and there is usually little time left to overthink your solution!

 

Q: Any favorite pump up music or playlists?

A: I found this song My Only Swerving by El Ten Eleven in Spotify’s Focus playlists section. I think I listened to it a million times..

 

Q: What do you plan on doing with all your extra free time now that you aren’t studying for your exams?

A: Enjoying my weekends a lot more!

 

Q: What was your first thought after finding out you passed your last exam?

A:  Total relief! I took my last four in about six months, so I was constantly studying. After I passed the final one, it was weird to realize I didn’t need to jump to the next and could just relax.

 

Q: How did you celebrate?

A: I went out to see a band called We Are The Mummies at Knuckleheads. They are a funk band that performs completely dressed as mummies. It was a strange and good ending to a stressful month.

 

Q: Any words of encouragement for other architects who are currently studying for and/or taking their AREs?

A:  Always sign up for another one! I had trouble making time to study unless I had set a test date. I tried to sign up for my next exam right after I finished one – even before I knew if I had passed. I still gave myself some time between to relax, but wanted to push myself to keep moving forward.

 

Congratulations, Ellen! We are so proud.


Historic Farmhouse Transformed into Children’s Center for Synergy Services

What began with the donation of a nearly 100-year-old farmhouse on a wooded six-acre site by Judge Stephen Pratt is now a safe, welcoming space that allows Synergy Services to double the number of children they serve.

Synergy Services is a Kansas City non-profit that helps victims of family violence find the safety, support, strength and skills needed to change their lives. They were forced to turn away 300 children from their SafeHaven women’s shelter last year due to lack of space. The donation from Judge Pratt allowed Synergy to create a dedicated space for children that feels warm, welcoming and avoids the institutional feel that most temporary foster facilities have.

The nearly 100-year-old farmhouse was repurposed to house counseling rooms, a therapeutic art room and a living room space and a 7,500 sq. ft. addition includes a dining room, bathrooms, bedrooms and a large open multi-purpose playroom with adjacent playground. The design of the addition builds off the wooded site to create an environment that is reminiscent of a camp or cabin. An abundance of natural light and views to the surrounding woods were integrated to draw the outdoor environment into the interior. Natural pine wood was used inside and out to further this concept and add a warmth to the overall space. 

In addition to creating an environment where children feel at home in a safe, healing place, the design team also wanted to make sure that the children felt at ease that this was a place they could play and enjoy. Details, such as the Charlie Harper wallpaper filled with animals in the dining room and durable walls and floors made of reclaimed wood from a gym floor in the playroom clearly communicate that this is a special place designed especially for them. Vibrant color was used playfully in key spaces but sparingly in others to allow the building to be a canvas for the children and their own art and personality.

The new building has been an overwhelming success for Synergy; executive director Dennis Meier shared, “Everybody that comes here just falls in love with it.”

As a non-profit, Synergy Services had a limited budget that the design team was conscious of in developing the overall concept and selection of low-maintenance materials, finishes and systems that would reduce operational costs long-term. Helix worked closely with JE Dunn Construction to deliver a building that is as efficient and functional as it is beautiful.

Helix principal Erika Moody has worked with Synergy Services for over 10 years. After working with them on the design of Synergy Services Youth Resiliency Center she was so inspired by the work they do that she joined their board. “Synergy is the last lifeline for so many in our community,” said Erika Moody. “The trauma that many of these children have experienced is unimaginable. I am proud to help them create a space that supports their mission and enables them to positively impact even more kids.”

The project has already been honored with numerous awards, including a Capstone Award from the Kansas City Business Journal in the Community Impact category and a silver award at the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Mid America Design Awards.

Photography by Michael Robinson.


History Behind Kansas City’s Pickwick Plaza – Opening Today After $65-Million Renovation

History_Pickwick

One of Kansas City’s earliest and largest mixed-use developments, Pickwick Plaza has a rich history as a downtown destination and transportation hub. Although the structure was substantially underutilized throughout the late 20th-century, the renovation of this iconic structure to its former glory is celebrating its grand opening today.

The large mixed-use complex, located at 9-10th & McGee streets, originally housed the Pickwick Hotel, an office building, a parking garage and one of the largest bus terminals west of the Mississippi. Designed in 1929 by Wight & Wight, the building is one of many prominent civic buildings designed by the Kansas City firm – including City Hall, the Jackson County Courthouse and the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.

History_Pickwick2

The mixed-use nature of the original building, including the hotel, office spaces, the bus terminal, retail — all within close proximity to the major governmental Kansas City buildings, anticipated a much greater future trend in mixed-use developments. The complex served business and government officials, locals and visitors, with many amenities all under one roof and a cohesive streetscape and exterior presence. In 1930, prominent radio stations KMBC and WHB relocated their operations into 11th floor penthouse addition atop the hotel building – broadcasting from that location until 1968.

The Pickwick Hotel was considered the place to stay when conducting business downtown or with government officials and was most notably known as a frequent retreat of Harry S. Truman during his early career with Jackson County government. His time in the hotel was largely spent writing what would later be known as the “Pickwick Papers” — a biographical mix of personal and political thoughts. The hotel remained operational throughout both World Wars and aided in Kansas City’s growth. During that period from the 30’s-50’s, the bus terminal saw nearly 5,000 bus departures per month.

Before_Shots_PickwickThe historic Pickwick Hotel lobby as it was in 1930, and the existing conditions at the beginning of our renovation & restoration process.

Many downtown buildings were torn down during the 1950-70’s, but luckily much of the exterior and primary interior spaces of Pickwick Plaza remained untouched. Following suburban flight and the national decline of downtown dwelling and public transportation in the 1960’s, the building was converted into subsidized housing in 1972. The 233 units were often under-occupied and eventually left empty until a fire took a toll on the building in 1996.

The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001 and ultimately purchased by Gold Crown Properties in 2013 with the intent of converting it into 260 market-rate apartments with amenities and rental rates that would attract young professionals.

Renderings_Pickwick

Helix partnered with Rosin Preservation to restore historic elements throughout the building. The lobby was restored to its original two-story height, allowing natural daylight to infiltrate the space. Large, historic windows maximize natural daylighting, reducing the need for artificial lighting in the units. To maintain consistency with the original character of the building and bring vibrancy to the surrounding area, Helix re-introduced street-side retail space, which has recently signed tenants such as UPS, a wine bar + restaurant concept by Cellar Rat and CityGym.

The new East 9 at Pickwick Plaza  apartments feature a combination of traditional and unique amenities that are targeted towards downtown dwellers: a workout facility, a salt-water pool (located where the bus depot once was), garage parking, an office center, community room, on-grade retail, rooftop green space, high-efficiency appliances, washer/dryer hook-ups and walk-in closets. In line with the current “sharing economy” trend (think Uber and Airbnb), the City of Kansas City and developers have partnered with Zipcar — a national car-sharing company, allowing tenants to pay a monthly fee for usage of shared cars.

With its combination of residential, retail and office space, this iconic structure is once again an anchor development within the government district. We are proud to work alongside visionary developers like Gold Crown Properties to restore this historic landmark and continue to propel downtown Kansas City’s redevelopment.


28 June, 2017 | Helix People, Recognition

Congratulations to newly certified interior designer, Kate Phillips!

We’re proud to announce our newest certified interior designer: Kate Phillips! Kate joined Helix in 2016 and has since worked with clients such as Academy for Integrated Arts, DEG and The University of Kansas Medical Center. When she’s not improving workplaces around Kansas City, she’s busy planning the next big office party. 

NCIDQ Certification is the highest level of certification in the interior design profession. The exam is taken in three sections, all of which candidates must pass to become certified.  We thought we’d take this opportunity to hear about Kate’s secret to success:

Q: When studying for your exams, what rituals did you have? Any pump-up music or favorite snacks?
A: During the summer I enjoyed “multi-tasking” by laying out at the pool while reading through my textbook. However, studying for the Practicum in the winter was far less exciting. My dining table disappeared under piles of trace paper, post-its, and practice tests. I also listened to a lot of alt-J and The Japanese House in those months.

Q: Did you find a particular favorite subject matter?
A: I really enjoy puzzling together a space plan.

Q: Now that you’ve passed exams, how do you plan on celebrating?
A: A bottle of Veuve and a nap.

Q: What advice would you give any designers out there studying for their certification?
A: Practice tests are key! You not only have to learn and memorize the material, but I found it was just as important to know how the test was formatted. Also, make a study schedule and routine that works for you and stick with it.

From your Helix family — Congratulations, Kate! We’re celebrating with you on achieving this incredible accomplishment.


Historic Warehouse Converted into Luxury, Boutique Apartments

Helix recently completed design of the adaptive reuse of 1509 Walnut, a historic warehouse in the heart of the Crossroads district. Built in 1902, the five-story, brick building was designed by James Oliver Hogg and was home to several businesses for over 100 years, including Grand Avenue Storage Company and Atlas Storage and Warehouse.

This historic building has Romanesque Revival elements, and the exterior had remained largely untouched other than alterations to the first story facade in 1958.

The original architect for the building, J.O. Hogg, was born in Wisconsin around 1858 and arrived in Kansas City in 1886. Throughout the course of his career, he designed mostly commercial and storage buildings. Some of his work included the Advance Thresher Company building at 1300 Liberty Avenue, the Harry Abernathy residence at 3600 Madison Street and the Daniel Dyer residence near the Blue Valley Industrial District, which was destroyed in 1940.

The building retained the majority of its historic integrity over the years, and with little opportunities to add parking, the space remained untouched after Berlau vacated. Jeff Krum, CEO of Boulevard Brewing Company, along with Sunflower Development Group and Helix Architecture + Design, determined the building could be converted into boutique-style apartments, if a parking deck was placed over an adjacent lot. With that decision, the team began work on the design of Atlas, which began leasing in May.

The 32,000-square-foot building now includes 16, one- and two-bedroom luxury apartments. Residents occupy floors one through five in apartment units that include large unique floor plans, high-end finishes, lots of storage and private balconies. The penthouse units feature spiral staircases, leading to rooftop patios with extraordinary views of the downtown skyline. Some of the other amenities include solariums, a wine cellar in the basement, fitness room and dedicated parking. Two street-level retail spaces occupy the street frontage.

While the interior has been completely updated, the design team worked to preserve the building’s past. The façade has been fully restored, and each apartment is designed to showcase the historic components, including exposed brick walls, original concrete floors, heavy timber beams and even an old loading dock and door in one unit. This adaptive reuse project was designed in accordance with National Park Service guidelines and qualified for federal and state historic tax credits.

The design team partnered with Carpenter Collective on the branding of the new development, creating external signage and wayfinding throughout the building.

We’re proud to continually restore historic buildings in the Crossroads, adding to the ongoing revitalization of downtown Kansas City. Congratulations to our development partners and the entire design team!

Photography by Bob Greenspan. Furniture provided by Plus Modern Design.


Helix Principal Takes Home Top Honor with IIDA

Alissa Wehmueller, Principal, was presented with the International Interior Design Association’s (IIDA) 2017 Member of the Year award at their Annual Meeting in Chicago on Sunday evening.

This award is given to an IIDA member whose commitment to the industry is visibly demonstrated through extensive volunteer efforts and dedication to the organization’s mission of advancing interior design and advocating for its excellence. The recipient receives $7,500, as well as a complimentary 2018 IIDA membership.

Alissa has served in various leadership roles within the IIDA Mid America Chapter, including Chapter president. She was also instrumental in helping the Chapter win two Chapter of the Year awards. Under her guidance, the Chapter has added mentoring opportunities, provided preparation for interior design licensing exams and advocated for statewide registration of the interior design profession.

“Every IIDA chapter needs and wants an Alissa Wehmueller. She celebrates accomplishments and then, asks what’s next. The Mid America Chapter has clearly benefited from her vision and ability to share it well.” said Erika Moody, Principal, Helix Architecture + Design.

Alissa’s work with Helix includes (top left going clockwise) the Boulevard Tours & Recreation Center, Blue Cross Blue Shield KC headquarters, Olson Performing Arts Center at UMKC and Service Management Group’s headquarters.


In addition to her service with IIDA, Alissa was also selected for this honor, because of her commitment to uniting the Kansas City design community. She co-chaired Kansas City Design Week  on behalf of IIDA from 2013-2015 and collaborated on the creation of the Center for Architecture and Design, which brings together design professionals across the city.

“My involvement with IIDA has truly been one of the most impactful things I’ve done in my career. The skills I’ve learned, the resources I’ve found, initiatives I’ve been able to see through and the relationships I’ve made in Kansas City, as well as within the national design community, are invaluable,” said Alissa.

Watch the IIDA 2017 Annual Meeting in which Alissa was awarded (1:20:00 mark):

Congratulations Alissa! We’re proud to work alongside you and look forward to what’s yet to come.


7 June, 2017 | Collaboration, Design, Helix People

Helix Principal Debuts New Furniture Collection with HighTower

For 15 years, Trevor Hoiland, Helix principal, has created custom furniture pieces for his clients. This year, he released his first collection with HighTower Furniture.

Trevor began working with HighTower seven years ago when he was asked to design a sign for the exterior of their building. Since that time, they’ve collaborated on numerous projects, including their award-winning showroom and offices at 18th & Main Street in 2014.

In his initial designs, he began by solving a simple problem – creating a coffee table that someone could comfortably rest their feet and set a drink on. He spent his time away from the office working on a design that would accommodate both.

He started with sketches and then moved those into 3D concepts. As designs were finalized, he worked with the HighTower fabrication group to fine tune concepts. Collaborating closely, the partnership grew from the design of a few pieces, an ottoman and coffee table, to a full line. From start to finish, the project spanned two years.

“We called the collection Story, because I convey designs and presentations through the art of storytelling. I wanted to create pieces where people could not only sit and tell stories, but also store them, which is why we incorporated storage for books and magazines,” said Trevor Hoiland.  

The original concept for Story was inspired by AMC’s headquarters, which Trevor designed in 2011-2012 . Outdoor terraces became storage areas, and glass and metal were exchanged for fabric and texture. The collection uses a mix of simple lines and open spaces.

Story comes in two heights and five sizes, with or without storage cubbies, optional shelves and throw pillows. Perfect for public spaces or common areas, it is a modular bench system that can be arranged and linked in a variety of configurations.

“The line is designed to be simple and flexible. I wanted to create something that would pick up the character of a space and blend seamlessly with whatever an interior designer imagined. I look forward to seeing the different variations of how it will all be used,” said Trevor.

All photos courtesy of HighTower Furniture


1 June, 2017 | Culture, Helix People, Recognition

Helix Employees Celebrate 5 Years with the Firm

We’re pleased to share three Helix employees are celebrating their five-year anniversary with the firm. In that group, you’ll find our resource librarian, Marcie Miller Gross; interior designer, Erin Stork; and our office concierge, Nina Grimes.

To thank them for their service and mark the milestone, they received a $1,000 voucher to be used for travel of their choice. These are given to team members for every five years of service. We capped off the festivities with a new tradition –  a celebratory lunch.

Thank you to Marcie, Erin and Nina, for your contributions, dedication and friendship. Helix greatly benefits from the gifts and talents each of you bring.


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