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.

Erin3

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.

IMG_1192_cropped

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.”


Preserving Kansas City’s historic landmarks for future generations

Since its founding in 1974, Historic Kansas City (HKC) has been the only greater Kansas City nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the area’s heritage, neighborhoods and historic built environment.

Last night at their annual Preservation Awards ceremony, HKC celebrated the people – developers, building owners, architects and preservationists – that have demonstrated exceptional leadership in historic preservation across our city. Three Helix clients, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, the owners of the Brass on Baltimore and the General Services Administration were among those honored for their preservation and reinvestment in significant landmark buildings.

Preserving these structures for future generations retains an important piece of our history and  identity as a city. It was an honor to work alongside the leaders at each of these organizations to breathe new life into these monumental buildings.

Kansas City Police Department Headquarters Renovation & Expansion | Excellence Award | Innovation
The renovation and expansion of the Kansas City Police Headquarters re-positions the facility, originally built in 1938, for another 70 years of service to the community while respecting the character of the historic 100,000-square-foot structure. This included a full renovation of the historic structure for modern police use, as well as a significant investment on the ground floor to increase transparency and improve police interaction with the community.

KCPD Before + After

Helix’s design of the community room addition takes cues from the existing Art Deco headquarters and adjacent Brutal­ist Municipal Court buildings. The Art Deco pattern of the concrete roof structure is found throughout the original Police Headquarters in both ornamental and functional roles.

KCPD Ceiling Inspiration

 

Brass on Baltimore | Merit Award | Preservation Practice
The renovation of the historic Kansas City Club building at 13th and Baltimore in downtown Kansas City restored the buildings historic character while inserting modern amenities. Recently renamed the “Brass on Baltimore”, the building houses 67 lofts and 9 unique event spaces across 15-floors. Appearing on the National Register of Historic Places, the historic building is a stunning example of elaborate, gothic Tudor detailing and old-world craftsmanship.

Brass on Baltimore Before + After

Built in 1920, the 15-story building was originally built as the home of the Kansas City Club, a private gentlemen’s club established in 1882. Helix’s renovation of the luxury event spaces on the 1st-6th floors, included restoration and updates to the original grand lobby, Press Room, Tudor Room, Walnut Room, and library. The project also included the complete renovation of the 15th floor, which had been converted to apartments in 2002, and the addition of an outdoor terrace that offers 180-degree views in downtown Kansas City.

Brass on Baltimore Interiors Before + After

 

Richard Bolling Federal Building Modernization | Excellence Award | Contemporary Design in a Historic Context
Encompassing two full city blocks in the government district of downtown Kansas City, the 18-story Richard Bolling Federal Building is a landmark on the city skyline. Built during the Great Society period in the early 1960’s, the tower stretches East and West across the two-block site, interrupting Cherry Street in the downtown street grid. At more than 1.2-million-gross-square-feet it’s one of the largest high-rise office buildings in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Richard Bolling Federal Building Site Before + After

The modernization of the Richard Bolling Federal Building, led by Helix Architecture + Design, GastingerWalker& and JE Dunn Construction, transformed the existing structure into a high-performance building and Class A work environment for 2,800 federal employees while preserving the historic Mid Century architecture. The renovation was completed in 4-phases over 15-years and officially celebrated its re-dedication in November 2015.

Richard Bolling Federal Building Interiors Before + After

Each of these buildings offers a rich history of people that have passed through the front doors – people who shared their workday, their passion for serving their community, their milestones and their celebrations. Thanks to the investment of our clients, people will continue to experience their beauty, their craftsmanship and iconic presence in our community for years to come.

For those of you that love old buildings as much as we do, Historic Kansas City hosts events throughout the year. You can check them out, along with a full list of award winners on their website.


KCU Administration Building Renovation

KCU Admin Building | Helix Architecture + Design | JE Dunn | Henderson Engineers

KCU Admin Building | Helix Architecture + Design | JE Dunn | Henderson Engineers

We are excited to announce the completion of another successful project with Kansas City University of Medicine & Biosciences (KCU). Originally home to the first Children’s Mercy Hospital, the 100-year-old building became part of KCU in the 1970s. Today, the newly renovated building functions as both the Administration Building and campus Welcome Center.

KCU Admin Building | Helix Architecture + Design | JE Dunn | Henderson Engineers

KCU Admin Building | Helix Architecture + Design | JE Dunn | Henderson Engineers

KCU Admin Building | Helix Architecture + Design | JE Dunn | Henderson Engineers

KCU Admin Building | Helix Architecture + Design | JE Dunn | Henderson Engineers

Prior to beginning design, Helix led a team of key stakeholders through a series of visioning sessions, in which we were able to define underlying directives for the project, such as: perceived University identity, campus culture, fundamental business drivers, modern day work styles and the desired look and feel for the space.

The building serves over 1,000 KCU students and approximately 70 members of KCU faculty and staff. By opening up the floorplan we were able to make the building easier to navigate, while introducing hospitality areas, progressive workplace solutions, and expanded A/V capabilities to address the evolving needs of students and staff, alike.

By transitioning administrative space to an open office environment the space enhances inter-department communication and improves access for students. This strategic shift in culture also increased shared social spaces directly adjacent to major circulation paths to give an open, welcoming appeal.

KCU_Admin_Building_ImagesThe completion of the Administration Building serves as the kickoff event for KCU’s 2016 Centennial celebration. This preservation and modernization of the building reflects KCU’s past, and celebrates a future of continued collaboration, research and service to the communities it serves.

In line with KCU’s commitment to sustainability, Helix developed a building renovation concept that re-used the existing structure while re-configuring and modernizing the space to better serve the university’s needs. Slated to achieve LEED Silver Certification, the project incorporated high efficiency building systems, improved the indoor environment for building users and repurposed existing materials to the fullest extent possible.

Congratulations to our partners at KCU on this milestone for the university and our project team on a beautiful space that blends academic services and workplace design seamlessly into a historic building!

Images by Michael Robinson Photography


Helix + KCU at SCUP

Helix Architecture + Design and Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences (KCU) will be presenting the transformational renovation of Weaver Auditorium into the university’s new Academic Center at the SCUP 2016 North Central Symposium on April 27th.

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Program: RePurpose / ReEngergize – Creating a New Academic Center at KCU

Every higher education institution is dealing with the challenges of having existing buildings that are not designed to accommodate the way that millennials (and Gen Z following them) want to learn and connect with their peers. Because of this, many of these buildings are substantially underutilized.

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The Academic Center at KCU took an existing building with a large 1,500-seat auditorium and transformed it into a state-of-the-art learning facility and hub for student activity. The design team developed the innovative concept of stacking two lecture halls within the footprint of the existing auditorium.

The lobby and back-of-house auditorium spaces were converted into flexible student break-out and study rooms. This resourceful solution saved nearly a third of what it might otherwise cost to build a new facility and achieved LEED Silver Certification due in part to repurposing of 90% of the materials from the site’s previous building, Weaver Auditorium.

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The project was one of multiple identified in the University’s master plan, which was initiated in 2012. The design principles expressed in this master plan are based on a qualitative approach that synthesizes interviews, the aspirations and the goals of KCU with a critical assessment of their current space planning needs.

SPEAKERS:

Helix principal Reeves Wiedeman and project architect Miranda Groth will be co-presenting alongside KCU CFO/CEO Joe Massman and Director of Capital Projects, Tim Saxe on the success.

Reeves Wideman + Miranda Groth

Reeves W. Wiedeman, FAIA
Founding Principal
Helix Architecture + Design

As a founding principal of Helix, Reeves Wiedeman has been a driving force behind the firm’s success across a diverse, award-winning portfolio of work that spans academic, civic, cultural, workplace, hospitality and residential markets. As a market leader for Helix’s higher education clients, Reeves has led all of the firm’s projects for KCU as well as other academic institutions throughout the region. Reeves is an alumnus of the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design. His commitment to design excellence and advancement of the profession is evident in his continued involvement with the American Institute of Architects and his selection for Fellowship Status.

Miranda Groth, AIA, LEED AP
Project Manager
Helix Architecture + Design

During her career at Helix, Miranda has managed nearly 150,000 square feet of projects for Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, including the complex adaptive reuse of Weaver Auditorium into the new KCU Academic Center. The project recently received an AIA Central State Design Excellence Award for its ingenuity in repurposing an underutilized structure into an educational hub on the KCU campus. Her methodical project management approach has consistently resulted in her projects being completed under budget and within schedule. Miranda has a Master of Architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Joe Massman and Tim Saxe

Joe Massman, MBA
Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer
Kansas City University of Medicine & Biosciences

Joe Massman is chief financial officer (CFO) and chief operating officer at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, where he is responsible for most of its non-academic functions including finance, human resources, compliance, information technology, facilities and campus operations. Prior to joining the field of higher education, Joe was the founder and CEO of the ETF Store, a retail investment advisory firm. Previously, he served as CFO at Freightquote.com and held other senior financial positions with Express.com in Los Angeles, Viacom, Inc., in New York, and KPMG LLP in Kansas City. Joe earned a bachelor of business administration from the University of Notre Dame and a master of business administration from New York University.

Tim Saxe, PE
Director of Capital Projects
Kansas City University of Medicine & Biosciences

Tim provides leadership for the planning, design, construction, and financial performance of capital improvement projects for the University.  Prior to his role at KCU, Tim enjoyed a diverse 15-year career in both design, as an architect and structural engineer at HNTB, and then in construction management, as Project Manager and Knowledge Manager at JE Dunn Construction.  A majority of Tim’s experience is on large scale projects on University campuses.  Tim graduated from the Missouri University of Science & Technology with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and completed graduate studies in Architectural Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University.

JOIN US!

We’d love to see you at the SCUP 2016 North Central Symposium in Omaha, NE. The conference takes place on April 27th, so register soon! 


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