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.


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.


24 May, 2017 | Renovation, Workplace

KC Tech Firm Supports Rapid Growth with Flexible Work Environment

Valorem has been surpassing expectations with their rapid growth since they opened their doors in 2009. They recently completed their third headquarters expansion. A Microsoft partner, they have expanded beyond their Kansas City headquarters with offices in St. Louis, Missouri; Seattle, Washington; Kochi, India; and Herrliberg, Switzerland. With their remarkable rise, recruiting and retaining top talent is critical for this cutting-edge company.

When Helix principals Evan Fox and Alissa Wehmueller began working with Valorem, their goals were to provide room for growth and create a space that would attract top talent. They chose their building in the heart of the Crossroads, because it would help them achieve both. Our team has assisted Valorem as their headquarters has expanded three times, and the number of employees has more than tripled – all within their existing location.

Working with a rapidly growing technology company presents some unique challenges and opportunities, but like every workplace client, success is driven by thoroughly understanding and creating a space that responds to the culture, technical requirements and workstyles of the talent they want to attract.

Flexibility was a key priority from the beginning for this young company. Their workspace features an open, free-address office environment, along with a limited number of private offices. Free addressing is attractive to tech talent, but also allows the company to save on real estate expenses by housing more people in their space. By choosing a free address approach, Valorem offers employees the freedom to work wherever they would like within the space without spending money on workstations that are vacant much of the day. This provides the adaptability they need for continued growth, while getting the greatest value out of every square foot.

Throughout the building, there are a variety of spaces for collaboration, socializing and focused, quiet work that team members can choose from throughout the day. Lockers in the back allow employees to stow their coats and bags easily.  And employees are able to personalize the space. At Valorem, we added a wall for staff to write-on.

Another key component was helping them communicate and celebrate their brand while connecting to creative culture of the Crossroads Arts District. We used the Valorem logo as a jumping off place, incorporating green and blue throughout the space. One visual representation of this is a large, focal felt well, which was made by local fabricator, Hinge Woodworks. Building upon their location in the heart of Kansas City’s arts community, Valorem partnered with  local artist Phil Shafer (known as Sike Style) to paint a mural in each of their renovations. This has become a recognizable component of their workspace and were such a hit that Valorem hired Sike to do a mural in their Seattle office.

While these solutions are eye-catching and aligned with their company culture, they are also cost-effective. The felt wall pulls triple duty, offering visual interest, providing an acoustic treatment and acting as a partial room divider for workstations.

Throughout our work with Valorem, there were considerations specific to their industry and nature of their business. For example, they needed space for huge screens at workstations, and their conference rooms required substantially more technology than most. To provide a desirable work environment for developers and non-technical staff, some spaces are dark to support heavy computer work, while others have lots of bright, natural light.

When it comes to supporting a company’s growth, organizations should consider flexibility and ways incorporate their culture into their space. Valorem is evidence that a one-size fits all approach isn’t effective.

Photography by Michael Robinson.


Missouri State University Historic Renovation Merges Past and Present

For many, fall means back to school, but for Missouri State University, it also marks the beginning of construction on Hill Hall’s renovation.

At 92 years old, Hill Hall is one of the three original buildings on the campus’s historic quadrangle. Originally completed in 1924, the building carries a tremendous amount of history within its walls. Designed by President Clyde M. Hill, the Education Building is one of the most-widely copied designs in the United States.

From its early days as the Education Building to today, the exterior has stood the test of time. However, like most historic buildings, the interior environment no longer serves the university’s modern needs. Missouri State University knew they wanted a space that was flexible, reflected the building’s history, improved accessibility and created departmental adjacencies. Helix Architecture + Design was hired to assist the university with renovating this important structure.

Hill Hall is used by the College of Education and the Department of Psychology. Spaces for the multiple user groups were not adjacent to one another, but spread throughout the building, which made wayfinding and creating a true home-base for students a challenge. To ensure the renovated layout was easier to navigate, the Helix team worked with all user groups to develop a clear program for the space. They improved wayfinding throughout by increasing transparency, providing places for signage, locating core elements in the same location on each floor and improving departmental adjacencies. The new signage provided opportunities to highlight each group’s identity as well.

One of the biggest challenges that came with renovating the space was improving accessibility. The existing building did not provide a clear path for all building users, which made getting to and from class difficult. Creating an accessible route required connecting the entrances on the first floors with a series of ramps, but this key change will make the first floor area more open, connected, inviting and accessible for all visitors.

Both the School of Education and the Department of Psychology also wanted to make the building more student-centric. The existing building offered very few places for students to gather, study, relax or socialize. The Helix team was able to create a specific space for this, playfully located in an old pool that had been converted into a storage areaand was underutilized for decades. The new plans include a lounge space, computer labs and small study rooms. This space greatly enhances the building by allowing students to gather outside of the classroom to study, collaborate and better utilize technology resources.

Faculty also wanted to make their offices more welcoming and conducive to meeting with students. This meant creating places that were easier to find and more approachable. To ensure the completed space can evolve along with faculty needs, the new offices allow for growth and change, without focusing on hierarchy. Classrooms also provide flexibility for faculty to modify the rooms as pedagogy and technology continually evolves.

Preserving the historical elements of Hill Hall was important to the entire team. The original central circulation stair that connects the floors was maintained, along with the original terrazzo floors in many areas.

With construction underway, Hill Hall will offer new benefits to students and faculty just in time for the 2018 school year. Improved accessibility, the addition of social/study spaces and the reorganized layout deliver a student-centric design, while still honoring the building’s historic past.


9 May, 2017 | Helix People, Leadership, Press

Helix Adds New Talent to the Executive Team

Several years ago, the Helix executive team met to discuss what was next for the firm. They discussed a wide range of options, floating new ideas by one another. Then, big things started to happen.

The first step was announced in August of last year. We merged with the talented designers and architects at Blackbird Design Studio. We knew we were on the right track when we were named AIA Kansas City’s Firm of the Year in December. Now, we’re continuing that growth by adding a respected, local architect as a new partner.

STOCKMAN_Doug04

We’re pleased to announce Doug Stockman, a former founding principal of El Dorado, Inc., will be joining Helix. Doug brings over 23 years of design experience to the firm. Over the course of his career, he’s accumulated an expansive portfolio with work not only in Kansas City, but also throughout the Midwest.

I wanted to be part of a group comprised of thought provoking leaders and designers focused on elevating the human experience through architecture. I have known the leaders of Helix for many years and have the greatest respect for their work within the community. The decision to join Helix was easy,” said Doug Stockman, Principal, Helix.

His background and extensive portfolio complement ours. Doug has been recognized nationally by the American Institute of Architects for his design of the Girls Scouts’ Camp Prairie Schooner Trail Center. In the last decade, his work has primarily focused on mixed-use projects within the urban context. Most of which are multi-family apartments with retail and workplace as a component of the overall project. Ongoing projects nearing completion include new fabrication labs at Kansas State University’s College of Architecture, Planning and Design, as well as a new modular apartment building at 3435 Main Street in Kansas City, Missouri.

Active in the community, Doug has served on a variety of boards and committees: the Kansas City Free Health Clinic, Christmas in October, the MS Society, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Girl Scouts of Northeast Kansas & Northwest Missouri. Since 1999, he has also served in numerous capacities for the Kansas City Downtown Council (DTC). He currently sits on the DTC’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors as Chairman and the Dean’s Advisory Council at Kansas State University’s College of Architecture, Planning & Design. He is also a board member of Planet Play.


26 April, 2017 | Awards, Design, Recognition

Four Helix Projects Take Home Honors at Mid America Design Awards

Four, very different projects were recognized at the Mid America Design Awards ceremony last Friday. This biennial event honors interior design work within the Kansas City and Wichita areas based on innovation, functionality and implementation of overall design intent and brand.

MADA Celebration

Although the projects couldn’t be more diverse – a brewery, non-profit, workplace and university library, they share several similarities. To begin, all four feature the adaptive reuse of a historic building, blending original elements with each new owner’s aesthetic. But perhaps more importantly, all four were designed with the end-user in mind. Whether welcoming more guests or offering new services, the completed projects are helping each client better serve their community.


Boulevard

Boulevard Brewing Company

TOURS & RECREATION CENTER: GOLD, HOSPITALITY

Boulevard Brewing Company had outgrown their original tasting room, causing them to frequently turn away guests. To accommodate the increasing crowds, they purchased a historic, 1920’s, brick building adjacent to the brewery with the goal of transforming it into an expanded destination. The completed space provides an immersive learning experience, including playful exhibits that share the history of beer making and the origins of Boulevard. Their renovated building is full of handcrafted, artisanal touches – just like Boulevard’s beer. Since opening, they’ve been able to double the number of tours and visitors they can accommodate every day, and the beer hall has become a hub for community events, like yoga classes, charity events and presentations from brewers.


Creamery

The Creamery Building (3D Development)

GOLD, CORPORATE MEDIUM

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Creamery Building had been vacant for years despite its prime location in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District. It was renovated to serve the needs of smaller, office tenants and entrepreneurs, who weren’t represented in the marketplace. The design team leveraged the constraints and character of the historic structure to create a flexible series of suites with corresponding amenities that would attract small, yet discerning tenants. The interior finishes in the shared spaces draw upon the existing architecture and industrial history of the building. The raw palette is carried into the suites, allowing tenants to move in without requiring a large investment. The resulting design provides an elevated brand identity beyond average small office suites.


Synergy

Synergy Services

JENNIFER & JAMIE CHILDREN’S CENTER: SILVER, CORPORATE SMALL

Synergy Services was forced to turn away 300 children from their SafeHaven women’s shelter last year due to lack of space. Through a generous donation, the organization received a 2,500-square-feet, nearly 100-year-old farmhouse on a wooded, six-acre site. The home itself was not large enough to address their full programming needs, so we created a plan to renovate the house and build an addition that was safe and welcoming for children of all ages. Drawing inspiration from the site, the design team created a concept reminiscent of a camp or cabin. The finished space feels warm and welcoming with wood finishes and many connections to the surrounding acreage, unlike traditional temporary foster shelters. With the new center, Synergy has been able to serve twice the number of children they did in the past. 


Norrington

Park University

NORRINGTON CENTER: SILVER, HIGHER EDUCATION/RESEARCH

Built in 1908, Norrington Hall originally served as the campus library until those services were relocated in the 1980’s. At that time the interior was converted into a patchwork of office and classroom spaces. In 2015, Park University initiated a renovation to return it to its original roots as a state-of-the-art library and academic commons. The design concept celebrates the historic aspects of the building, while inserting fresh uses and a modern feel to the spaces. The primary design drivers pivot on the notion that the new Norrington Center is not a 20th century library stacked with books and dust, but a 21st century student center filled with learning activities of all types, from individual study, one-on-one tutoring, group work and technologically advanced classroom learning. As Park University had hoped, the Norrington Center has quickly become an asset to students and faculty, providing a welcoming space for gathering, learning, and celebrating with Pirate pride.

Congratulations to our interior design team and our clients who allowed us the pleasure of creating these spaces for your organizations. Successful projects are only achieved through strong relationships across all team members and these awards belong to all of you.

Photos of Boulevard, The Creamery and Norrington Center by Michael Robinson. Photos of the Children’s Center provided by JE Dunn.


Elevating Arts Education for Kansas City Kids

For those of us that grew up with the arts integrated into our upbringing, it’s hard to imagine a childhood without them. But as public funding for arts programs and education continues to diminish, missing out on this invaluable experience is becoming a reality for many children. Helix has a long history of supporting the arts, holding tightly to our belief that arts education produces a valuable social and economic impact within the local community.

KCYA-sm-4355Over the past year, Helix has had the opportunity to work with two such organizations whose work is dedicated to ensuring the arts are accessible to all. They are the Kansas City Young Audiences (KCYA), the largest provider of arts programs in the Kansas City area and Academy for Integrated Arts (AFIA), an arts-centered K-6 charter school. Both chose sites where existing facilities were adapted, allowing them to reach even more kids.

Kansas City Young Audiences

KCYA began by purchasing their first permanent home in Midtown. The building, originally constructed in 1997, was the site of a large box retailer and is located along the Main Street redevelopment. The design team worked with them to develop a concept featuring a variety of flexible spaces to grow with the organization. KCYA hosts various visual and performing arts activities, as well as classes for children. Constructed by McCownGordon Construction, key spaces include two dance studios, a stage and event space, classrooms for music and the fine arts, an art gallery, administration offices with a boardroom and a marketable tenant space.

AFIA_2

AFIA found a new home in an unexpected location – the former King Louie East bowling alley. Vacant for 10 years, the building had substantially deteriorated, and AFIA was sure they would have to demolish it. However, our team was able to develop a plan to renovate the existing building, greatly reducing costs. We worked closely with teachers, administrators and the school’s board of directors to create a space that integrates the arts and technology into curriculum and everyday activities. Their new building is part of the Troost redevelopment, located at 79th & Troost Avenue.

AFIA Classroom

The project better equips AFIA to meet the needs of their students. The new space has allowed enrollment to grow from 120 to 170, and a second phase addition is already underway with the goal of expanding to 350 students. Helix and JE Dunn met the school’s a fast-track schedule, so they could be moved in at the beginning of the 2016 school year.

AFIA Classroom

According to Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning, researchers found “sustained learning” in music and theater correlates to greater success in math and reading. Additionally, students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds had the greatest benefit. In fact, KCYA shared those who participated in the arts were four times more likely to participate in a math and science fair. Despite the strong connection, a 2011 survey by Common Core and FarkasDuffett Research Group reported 66 percent of teachers surveyed said curriculum is moving away from art, music, foreign language and social studies.

Organizations like AFIA and KCYA are working to shift this trend by bringing arts education to Kansas City. Sparking creativity and innovation, non-profits like these are able to thrive through the support of volunteer boards and donors. Learn how you can support KCYA here or get involved with AFIA by donating supplies or volunteering.  

Photos of KCYA by Bob Greenspan. Photos of AFIA provided by JE Dunn.


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