26 October, 2017 | Academic, Awards, Renovation

DEKC2017 | Award-Winning Transformation of an Underutilized Space for Kansas City University

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

Helix was honored to bring home three awards last year, including an “Honor Award” in the Interior Architecture category for the  Kansas City University of Medicine & Biosciences (KCU) Academic Center.

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The KCU Academic Center renovation transformed an underutilized, 1,500-seat auditorium into a state-of-the-art learning facility that features two auditoriums along with ancillary classrooms and study space. The design team developed the innovative concept of stacking the two lecture halls within the footprint of the existing auditorium. This resourceful solution saved nearly a third of what it might otherwise cost to build a new lecture facility and achieved LEED Silver Certification.

As Tim Saxe, KCU’s Director of Capital Projects shared, “The project deserves to be recognized not only for the exceptional space it creates for our students – both functionally and aesthetically – but also for the architect’s creative reuse of an underutilized building to address a critical campus need. The response from all stakeholders has been overwhelmingly positive. A building that was once largely empty is now a hub of student activity, and our faculty has recognized it as one of the best spaces they have taught in.”

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The 2016 AIA Kansas City Design Award jury was comprised of nationally recognized designers, including Luis Bernardo, principal with Design Collective, Inc.; Luanne Greene, president of Ayers Saint Gross and Steve Ziger, partner with Ziger/Snead Architects.

Very few projects were as simple and pure as this one was. The notion of literally this found space they took one theatre and then created a classroom within that theatre made the building so much better, very sustainable idea… It literally doubled the square footage and the functions within the structure. The other thing that we appreciated was that given the new restraint in terms of what you had left in terms with volume and size was the use of color, they essentially just used one color, this color red and then a little bit of wood to add texture, everything else was white. And so we thought that was very powerful and a really nice way of bringing the strength of the idea through; nothing got lost. It was a very simple move and we appreciated it because of that.”

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

You can watch the full video of jury comments here:
kcu-video-screen-capture

The project has also received a “Merit Award” for Interior Architecture at AIA Central States 2015 Excellence in Design Awards, Best in Show and a Gold Award in the Higher Education + Research Category at International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Mid America Design Awards (MADA), a Capstone Award in the Community Impact Category from the Kansas City Business Journal and was a Finalist in the Redevelopment Category at the Kansas City Economic Development Corporation’s Cornerstone Awards.

In addition to having a visionary client who brought an unwavering commitment to creating an exceptional space for their students, we had a tremendous construction partner in McCownGordon Construction. Together, along with our engineering team, we were able to achieve a fast-track schedule and meet the client’s budget while delivering award-winning design.

Photography by Michael Robinson.


9 October, 2017 | Awards, Helix People

Q&A with Erika Moody, IIDA Mid-America’s Vision Award Winner + 2017 Class of KCBJ Women Who Mean Business

In addition to recently being selected for the Kansas City Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business 2017 class, Helix principal Erika Moody was honored with the Vision Award at Thursday night’s International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Mid America ELEVATE Awards. The Vision Award is the highest award given to an individual who exemplifies notable qualities in leadership, design, and mentorship.

As a principal and owner at Helix, Erika leads the firm’s corporate workplace practice, which includes top Kansas City employers such as Cerner, DEG, Blue KC, McCownGordon Construction, and Olsson Associates. In addition to her role within the workplace practice, she oversees key aspects of practice management, including strategic direction and planning as well as attracting top talent to the firm.

As an active member of Kansas City’s civic and philanthropic community, Erika’s leadership extends beyond the firm. She is a 2009 graduate of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Centurions Leadership Program and served as the president of the Kansas City chapter of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). Having a strong belief in supporting the education of designers and architects, Erika has served on the Board of Interior Design at the University of Arkansas and on the Board of Interior Architecture at Kansas State University, her alma mater. She has also served three consecutive terms of the Board of Directors for Synergy Services, an organization she was introduced to while working on their Synergy House and Youth Resiliency Center.

We asked Erika to share a bit more on her role as a leader in our firm, the design industry and throughout the Kansas City community:

Goal as a firm leader

“I don’t just want Helix to be a great place to work, I want it to be the best place to work. It’s been a priority of mine to create an environment for our team members, both women and men, that offers flexibility for different stages of life. Our industry loses a lot of talent because we haven’t historically made it easy for people to juggle work and family. I want to provide a framework for all of our team members to feel successful, valued and proud of their role at work and at home. At Helix we’ve made it a priority to tailor roles to each team member’s individual needs. We’re lucky that our size and tight-knit management team allows us to do that.”

 

Biggest career accomplishment to date

“Starting Blackbird Design Studio was one of the most challenging but rewarding experiences of my career. I left the security of an established firm where I was a principal to create a successful venture that tripled in size over three years. While growing Blackbird, we completed notable projects, like Corrigan Station, Synergy Services Children’s Center and Olsson Associate’s corporate headquarters. Our quality work helped us draw the admiration and attention of a firm with whom we ultimately merged with, Helix Architecture + Design. Building Blackbird not only shaped the course of my career, but also taught me a lot about how businesses work. Starting a business from the ground-up is no easy feat, but one of which I’m incredibly proud.”

 

Community organization she’s passionate about

“Approximately eight years ago, I began working with Synergy Services. This incredible non-profit organization helps victims of family violence find the safety, support, strength and skills needed to change their lives. In our first project for Synergy House and the Youth Resiliency Center, we were able to double bed capacity and improve an existing facility, bringing it up to a new standard. I developed such a deep connection with the organization that I joined the board after our first project completed and have remained involved with Synergy ever since. We had the opportunity to work with them again on the newly completed Children’s Center, which included the renovation of a 100-year-old farmhouse and addition of a new building. The project allowed them to expand their programming and double the number of children they can serve.”

 

Championing women

“As an owner with Helix, I have been a champion for diversity and am extremely proud that our firm currently has a balance of seventeen women to thirteen men. In an industry where many women leave once they’ve had children we have created an environment that offers flexibility and mentorship to help them create a path that allows them to balance work and family commitments.”


“Also, as president of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), I helped to bolster our mentorship program, building networks among members. In the past, more experienced professionals phased out of the organization, leaving those who were just beginning their careers to make up the majority of the group. To mitigate this, we created a “principal roundtable” event and developed a new mentorship program. In fact, I am currently mentoring two, female designers from IIDA this year.”

You can read more about Erika’s “advice to her younger self” and the “philosophy she lives” by in this feature article from the Kansas City Business Journal.

Congratulations, Erika!  


26 September, 2017 | Multi-family, New Construction

63 Oak Townhouses Add to Brookside East Revitalization

In less than five years the 63rd Street corridor just east of downtown Brookside has undergone a rapid revitalization. Just four years ago, all of the commercial space along the north side of the four-block stretch of 63rd Street between Oak Street and Holmes Road and 85 percent of the space on the south side was vacant.

Now the empty buildings and lots are nearly filled with businesses and residents.

One of the prominent additions to the neighborhood is 63 Oak, a collection of five luxury townhouses designed by Helix Architecture + Design for UC-B Properties. The design and amenities offer high-end, low maintenance living in the East Brookside neighborhood. Each three-level, 1,950-square-feet townhome features three bedrooms, three and a half baths, a two-car garage, and three private outdoor spaces.

The first level houses the main entry, garage and a flexible living space with floor-to-ceiling windows that opens onto a sunken patio. The second floor features the main living spaces, including a modern, open kitchen, dining and living area with two balconies that makes it an ideal environment for entertaining. Two large bedrooms, each with a private bath are located on the third floor, offering privacy and separation from the rest of the living space.

With local shops and restaurants, such as the Unbakery and Juicery, Heirloom Bakery & Hearth, Oak 63, Hamilton, and Golden & Pine home furnishings, popping up all along the block, the Brookside East neighborhood is quickly becoming a sought after destination for residents and businesses alike.

The project was a recipient of a Economic Development Council of KC 2017 Cornerstone Award.

You can learn more about the units available on UC-B Properties website. Photography by Bob Greenspan


21 September, 2017 | Awards

DEKC2017 | AIA Kansas City 2016 Project of the Year

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

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

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

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

A key objective of the design was to increase transparency and expand police interaction with the community. This involved extensive changes to the first floor including the addition of a community room, which allows the public to engage in the Board of Police Commissioners meetings and serves as a venue for Police community outreach programming.

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


Comments from the jury comprised of nationally recognized designers included:

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

  • Luanne Greene, FAIA, president of Ayers Saint Gross

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

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

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

Photography by Michael Robinson.


14 September, 2017 | Helix People, Recognition

Ellen Hailey, AIA

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

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

Q: Any weird study habits?

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

 

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

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

 

Q: Any favorite pump up music or playlists?

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

 

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

A: Enjoying my weekends a lot more!

 

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

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

 

Q: How did you celebrate?

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

 

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

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

 

Congratulations, Ellen! We are so proud.


3 August, 2017 | Design, New Construction, Renovation

Historic Farmhouse Transformed into Children’s Center for Synergy Services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photography by Michael Robinson.


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

History_Pickwick

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

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

History_Pickwick2

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

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

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

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

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

Renderings_Pickwick

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

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

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


28 June, 2017 | Helix People, Recognition

Congratulations to newly certified interior designer, Kate Phillips!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Historic Warehouse Converted into Luxury, Boutique Apartments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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