23 September, 2016 | Academic, Historic Renovation, Renovation

Renovation transforms Norrington Hall into a high-tech library and academic commons for Park University

Park University students started the school year with a new (old) addition to campus. Norrington Hall, the only functioning Carnegie Library on a college campus in Missouri, underwent a dramatic renovation to transform it into a new academic commons focused on access to information through technology.

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Located in the heart of Park University’s campus, next to iconic Mackay Hall, Norrington Hall has housed various uses since the library relocated to a new location on campus in 1988. Park University, under new leadership, strategically proposed the library return to its original home in Norrington Hall and become a state-of-the-art academic commons.

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As an academic commons, the design features a variety of spaces to support on site as well as distance learning and foster a sense of community between students, faculty and staff. Key spaces include collaborative and private study areas, a technology-rich classroom featuring mobile furniture and white boards (even on the desk tops), and a centralized coffee shop located just inside the new main entry that will create a destination on campus for students, faculty and staff to study and socialize.

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The coffee shop also offers outdoor seating on a new terrace overlooking improved pedestrian-friendly grounds. This outdoor space links Norrington and Mackay Hall and creates a new campus quad with centralized greenspace for assembly and play, right at the foot of these historic and iconic campus structures.

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A new special event venue, the Campanella Art Gallery, will feature student and professional art exhibits.

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Now that the fall semester is in full swing you can find Norrington Center filled with activity. Although much has changed since Norrington was first built as a Carnegie Library in 1906, we are incredibly proud of being part of the team that returned the building to a place of knowledge-sharing and learning.  #ParkProud

All images by Michael Robinson Photography


Helix Architecture + Design and Blackbird Design Studio Announce Merger

Newly integrated firm will offer expanded resources, combined leadership and award-winning design talent

Kansas City is experiencing unprecedented real estate development right now, a golden era of investment in our community. Helix Architecture + Design and Blackbird Design Studio recognized an opportunity to strengthen their position in the marketplace by joining forces. The merger will offer clients access to combined leadership, expanded resources and unrivaled design talent.

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“The pace of change within our industry is rapidly accelerating,” said Reeves Wiedeman, founding principal of Helix Architecture + Design. “New firms bring fresh ideas and different approaches to the way we have always done things; established firms bring a depth of knowledge, experience and stability. We see other firms locally and nationally following one of these two paths. In merging Helix and Blackbird we are bringing together the best of both worlds – stability, mentorship, extraordinary talent, a nimble approach to change and the ability to truly lead the industry into its next era.”

The impact of Helix and Blackbird’s work is present throughout Kansas City’s streetscape, boardrooms and academic halls. Their portfolio of work spans venues for the arts and local restaurant concepts to new civic buildings and some of the largest corporate headquarters in the city. While both firms maintain diverse practices, each brings complementary expertise to the merger.

“We started Blackbird Design Studio to chart our own course, elevate design and elevate our city. Over the last three years we have continuously had the opportunity to do that,” said Erika Moody, founding principal with Blackbird Design Studio. “This merger allows us to continue what we started on a larger scale; it allows us to be stronger, better, faster with a team and network in place that will help us continue to propel our city, and our region, forward.”

people3The Helix + Blackbird team

So how did two firms go from mutual admiration to marriage?

The relationship between Helix and Blackbird started as a partnership to land a new client both firms were pursuing. When a trusted industry partner, who knows both firms well, asked firm leaders if they had considered making this partnership permanent it set the wheels in motion. The two firms had complementary areas of expertise, culturally similar studio environments and a shared vision for the quality of work they wanted to create. With large projects on the horizon, they were eager to begin working together. Things moved quickly from there.

For nearly 25 years Helix Architecture + Design has operated in downtown Kansas City. Long known for their experience renovating some of the city’s most notable landmarks, Helix has become a go-to firm for building owners and developers investing in the urban core. The firm’s civic engagement and advocacy for investing in the arts and education has also resulted in a substantial portfolio of work for the city’s top academic and cultural institutions. They are currently leading some of the most significant projects in downtown Kansas City, including the renovation of Traders Towers into a “smart” apartment building, the new Crossroads Westside development, the transformation of the historic Pickwick Plaza hotel and bus depot into a new mixed-use development, the ongoing transformation of Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences’ campus in the historic Northeast, the recently completed Boulevard Brewing Co. Visitor Center and the University of Missouri – Kansas City’s proposed Conservatory of Music and Dance in the Crossroads Arts District.

Helix_ProjectsStarting top left, going clockwise: KCU Academic Center, Boulevard Brewing Co. Visitor’s Center, KCPD Headquarters, Traders Tower, University of Kansas Medical Center – Health Education Building, UMKC Downtown Conservatory of Music & Dance.

When Moody and co-founder Trevor Hoiland started Blackbird, they brought with them an extensive portfolio of corporate office projects. During their time as principals with 360 Architecture they led the design of the H&R Block’s world headquarters, AMC’s new Theatre Support Center and the renovation and expansion of Black & Veatch’s world headquarters. Since founding Blackbird they have built upon this expertise to grow their portfolio of corporate office projects throughout the region while expanding to other markets. Current and recently completed projects include Olsson Associates corporate headquarters and multiple regional offices, the renovation of the Creamery Building into flexible office suites for small to mid-sized companies, Synergy Services Children’s Campus, an award-winning office and showroom for furniture manufacturer HighTower, the headquarters for rapidly growing tech company Valorem Consulting and Corrigan Station, a mixed-use development that includes the renovation of the historic Corrigan Building and adjacent new construction that will house office and retail space.

Blkbrd_ProjectsStarting top left, going clockwise: HighTower Furniture, Shepherd Residence, Olsson Associates headquarters, Corrigan Station, Synergy Services Children’s Center.

As Helix and Blackbird merge operations, these niches fit together well, each expanding upon the experience and expertise of the other. Culturally the two firms were a natural fit as well. Within both design shops, passion and humor go hand in hand.

“We love what we do; we take our work seriously but not ourselves,” said Hoiland. “We recognize that our clients are trusting us with a significant investment; they are letting us help shape not only their physical environment but their culture, their vision and their brand. We want the end result to be special but also make the process enjoyable along the way.”

Both firms also share a similar philosophy that leadership within the community is a key component of their business. Each of the firm’s principals and many of their staff invest significant time on behalf of civic and non-profit organizations.

“We believe that investing in the arts, education and a strong urban core is central to the vibrancy of our city,” said Jay Tomlinson, founding principal of Helix Architecture + Design. “Design is a key component of our commitment but equally important is our engagement in the broader issues that are impacting our community.”

The firm will consolidate operations into Helix’s existing headquarters in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District. Existing Helix leadership comprised of Wiedeman, Tomlinson, Michael Heule, Bryan Gross, Kristine Sutherlin and Alissa Wehmueller will expand to include Blackbird principals, Moody, Hoiland and Evan Fox. The firm will continue to operate under the Helix Architecture + Design name but launched a new brand identity in tandem with the merger.


29 July, 2016 | Academic, Art, Culture, Hospitality, Renovation

Designing Spaces that Nurture the Arts: Renovation of the Olson Performing Arts Center for the KCRep & UMKC

There is a reason that Kansas City consistently ranks among the top cities in the country for the arts; as a city, we invest in the people and places that are nurturing creative talent. At Helix, we are proud that we have been able to work with some of the city’s top arts and cultural organizations to create spaces that inspire, serve and engage patrons and artists alike.

Helix, KC Rep, Kansas City MORecently, this includes the $6.5 million renovation and expansion of the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center for the Kansas City Repertory Theatre and the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC). Located on the UMKC campus, the newly renovated building gives both organizations a home that showcases the talented artists that it serves.

“We’ve really made it into one of the most beautiful (regional) theaters, from what had been a really dated 1979 building,” Eric Rosen, the Kansas City Rep’s artistic director shared with KCUR at the building’s ribbon cutting. “Now we have a building that matches the quality and caliber of of the national work that we put on our stage here at Spencer.”

Helix, KC Rep, Kansas City MO

The Helix design team placed a strong emphasis on not only technical needs for the theatre itself, but the overall patron experience. The renovation included an expansion of the lobby, substantial improvements to the Spencer Theatre performance space, an expanded patron lounge, new ADA compliant restrooms and expanded concessions.

If you haven’t been to a performance in the new space yet, here’s a sneak peak at the transformation.

Spencer Theatre Improvements at UMKCImprovements within the performance space, including a new stage, lighting, acoustics and seats, enhance the experience for both patrons and performers.

Before & After of the Olson Performing Arts Center at UMKC Lobby

The expanded lobby features a centrally located bar, a variety of seating options and additional space for patrons to socialize before shows and during intermission.

Before & After of Olson Performing Arts Center at UMKC

Exterior renovations and the expanded lobby creates a stronger identity for UMKC and the KCRep while enhancing the building’s presence on campus.

The outcome is an environment that celebrates the arts while setting the stage for an experience that is much more than just a show. We highly recommend experiencing the space yourself at an upcoming performance. The KCRep’s 2016-2017 season starts September 9 with “Evita.” UMKC’s theatre department posts their full season of shows on their website.

Photography by Michael Robinson.


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.

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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.

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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.


Kansas City Design Week 2016 | April 7 – 16

Thursday kicks off Kansas City Design Week 2016! Get ready to experience everything from the Design Olympics to lectures on creative failure. We got the inside scoop from Helix’s own Sam Loring, AIA, who is co-chair of the event for the second year in a row.

Sam Loring, Co-Chair of KC Design Week

“Design Week is about celebrating all things design in Kansas City. It showcases our incredible local design talent, allows designers in different professions to meet each other and experience various design viewpoints – all in a fun, festive atmosphere!”

The week is centered on the convergence of ideas, information-sharing and inspiration from designers from across the architecture, graphic design and interior design industries. 

“There are several events that are specifically for architects. One is a working session on the 3-D modeling software, Dynamo. This software could help revolutionize the way that architects design buildings,” Loring says. One of three co-chairs, he explains each one represents the three major local design organizations: AIA, AIGA and IIDA.

It’s clear to see the value of designers sharing ideas across industries, as processes, challenges and successes often follow similar patterns. As the website states, the week is a good way to keep up with “constantly changing perceptions, share ideas and coming together to make things beautiful and functional.” …Music to our ears.

Debbie Millman

One of the highlights of the week will be Thursday’s Debbie Millman On Rejection: How the worst moments of your life can turn out the be the best. She was named “one of the most influential designers working today” by Graphic Design USA. Millman is also an author, educator, brand strategist and host of the podcast Design Matters.

So what event (of the many) is Loring most excited about attending?

“I am excited about the Bread and Butter Concepts on Designing an Empire presentation. It will be fascinating to see how the entire branding and design process works for a restaurant. Every element from the way the menu is planned, to the interior space design, and how it all comes together to create one brand. I’m also excited to eat some Republica food!”

Join us at Helix on Friday night as we host one of many Open Studio Night open houses! We’ll be sharing a behind-the-scenes look at our design process for the Boulevard Visitor’s Center. Plus, what Boulevard party would be complete without yard games, beer and popcorn? You won’t want to miss it.

There are still tickets available for many events – so join in on the fun at kcdesignweek.org


The Power of Workplace

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A ROOM FULL OF CORPORATE RECRUITERS GET TO DESIGN THEIR IDEAL WORK ENVIRONMENT?


Recruiters are on the front lines for corporations, and as many have experienced the workplace environment can either be a hindrance or a powerful tool. Last night, Team-KC: Life+Talent partnered with Alissa Wehmueller, workplace design expert with Helix Architecture + Design to explore the impact the workplace environment has on attracting and retaining talent. Alissa shared research on the benefits of investing in the work environment as well as best practices for how a company can achieve the greatest impact from their space.

AlissaImage courtesy of MetroWireMedia / Autumn Morningsky

WHAT IS THE VALUE OF INVESTING IN YOUR WORKPLACE?
There are a wide range of studies related to employee retention, engagement and attraction that have evaluated the benefits corporations experience when they invest in their workplace environment. A recent Work Design magazine article highlights how making that investment can enhance recruitment, lower attrition rates and increase profitability.

“A 2014 Hassell study indicated that the combination of strong overall culture and facilities actually outweighs salary and benefits when it comes to accepting a job offer. Moreover, a 2015 Chandler MacLeod study found that nearly three quarters of candidates would consider a slightly lower salaried position in a company that their friends have communicated is a great place to work.”

When you factor in the savings of employee retention — it can save a company $250,000 per employee — the financial benefits alone are a substantial payoff.

WE CAN’T ALL BE GOOGLE
As the workplace landscape shifts, there has been some backlash against the open office work environment in the media the last few years, including the widespread – Google got it wrong. Actually, Google got it right – for Google. But that doesn’t mean their environment is right for you. Ping pong tables, slides and yurts are not the key to a successful environment – understanding how your associates work and what they value is.

Trozzolo Communications

SO WHERE DO YOU START?
Creating the ideal space for your organization is a balance of qualitative and quantitative data. Bringing on a workplace design expert early to guide this info-gathering phase ensures that you are starting off on the right foundation of data. This information will guide the layout, furniture and amenities to make sure your company is investing in the right choices and gaining the greatest value for your employees and the company.

WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF A PROGRESSIVE WORKPLACE?
While the best solution will vary from company to company, there are three key factors we find are consistently driving the success of progressive work environment:

  1. Choice
  2. Wellness
  3. Telling your story

Trends will come and go, but creating a flexible environment that responds to the unique needs of your people and showcases your culture will pay dividends in retaining and attracting talent to your organization.

AMU

CHOICE: HOW DO YOU ACCOMMODATE DIFFERENT WORKSTYLES?
One size does not fit all. In fact, one size doesn’t fit
most. For the last 20 years the development of the desktop computer tethered us to our desks, but today’s technology allows us to work anywhere. This flexibility creates a tremendous opportunity to give employees the spaces and tools they need to support a variety of workstyles.

Various workstyles don’t just accommodate different individuals, but also the different tasks one individual might do throughout their day.

Day in the Life

And it’s not just about millennials.

“In 2015, the U.S. workforce was composed of 5 generations:

2% Traditionalist
29% Baby Boomers
34% GenX
34% Millennials
1% Post Millennials”

– Pew Research Center

Creating an environment that supports mentoring, collaboration and knowledge sharing across all of the generations in the workforce elevates the entire organization.

Workplace Wellness

WELLNESS: CAN YOU LEAVE YOUR OFFICE HEALTHIER THAN WHEN YOU ARRIVED?
Is it possible to create a space that reduces stress and helps promote physical well-being?
Employers have increasingly recognized the benefits of investing in initiatives that help improve the health of their associates. The loss of productivity and revenue that companies experience due illness can have a tremendous impact on a company’s bottom line.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reports that poor employee health accounts for some 45 million avoidable sick days each year and lost annual revenue of between $1,900 and $2,250 per employee.

This is particularly relevant to the design of work space because of the amount of time we spend at our offices each day and the impact that our environment has on our physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Some of the ways you can positively impact your associates include:

  • Develop a space layout that encourages physical activity
  • Select ergonomic furniture to promote good posture
  • Provide a connection to the outdoors
  • Integrate spaces that offer refuge from distractions
  • Provide amenities that help foster relationships

These strategies contribute to health, engagement, happiness and overall job satisfaction.

Andrews McMeel Universal Lobby

TELLING YOUR STORY: DOES YOUR SPACE ALIGN WITH YOUR BRAND?
If you took your logo off the wall would visitors know who you are? What does your physical environment communicate about your culture?

“Out of 3,000 workers surveyed, only 41% say they know what their company stands for and how it differs from their competitors.”

Gallup’s State of the American Workplace

Using your space to communicate your mission, vision, values and company culture is a powerful tool for employees, clients and potential candidates. It clearly communicates that your company is “walking the walk” and investing in their culture.

KCADC TeamKC Helix Event

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR IDEAL ENVIRONMENT?
We wrapped up the evening with an interactive exercise that allowed teams of recruiters create their own company and design their ideal workplace environment for potential new hires. There were some fun elements (who wouldn’t want to work for a “Technology Party Planner”!) alongside some really well thought out solutions.

Does your sales team love to golf? Incorporating a putting green into the outdoor space can provide a break in the workday and help them keep their short game on point.
Are children your clients? Create a fun, kid-sized entryway that makes your space memorable.
How can you make portions of your space feel like home? Many of us feel like we get our best “focus-work” done at our own homes so creating a quiet, comfortable space that is free of distractions can offer the same relief during the work day.

Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful questions, big ideas and insights into the solutions you’ve implemented in your own workspaces!

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
The needs of a modern workplace are constantly evolving alongside the people who work there. We would love to keep the dialog going on what is or isn’t working in your own work environment, the feedback you’re hearing from recruits or any great resources on creating an exceptional workplace for your people.

To learn more about the power of workplace, connect with Alissa on LinkedIn, send her an email or tweet us at @helixKC and @AlissaMay. To learn more about TeamKC: Life+Talent, contact Jessica Nelson.

For some additional reading check our MetroWireMedia‘s article, “Three ways to give your workplace a competitive edge” and Thinking Bigger‘s article, “A better workplace can help you attract the best workers.”


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