Celebrating Community at the Ribbon Cutting for the New KCPD Leon Mercer Jordan Campus

Earlier this week the City of Kansas City, Missouri and the Kansas City Police Department hosted a ribbon cutting for the new Leon Mercer Jordan Campus, which includes the East Patrol Division station and regional crime lab.  The event drew community leaders and hundreds of attendees from across the city to celebrate the success of the project and the positive impact it will have on the community.

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Helix worked alongside a team of over twenty consultants, many of whom are certified MBE, WBE and Section 3 businesses,  to deliver a new state of the art Patrol Division and Crime Lab that will serve the city well into the future. Together the team succeeded in creating a model project that shows how collaboration and inclusion can work as a strategy for building a great city.

In addition to housing police functions, the East Patrol Station houses a community room, a computer room and a gymnasium that are open to the public. In an article in the Kansas City Star Police Chief Darryl Forte and Rev. John Modest Miles shared their enthusiasm for the value the facility brings to community members.

Police Chief Darryl Forte said, “It’s not just a police station. It’s a place where people can gather – where they can do homework, play a game of basketball or have a neighborhood meeting in a safe and supportive environment.”

Rev. John Modest Miles said, “It is one of the most blessed things that could happen to this community. I am convinced that it is going to spark the rebirth of the whole community.”

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Thank you and congratulations to all of our design team members, the city, the police department and our construction team. We are incredibly honored to have the opportunity to work with all of you to deliver such an important project for Kansas City.

Detailed information on the project and its history can be found on the police department’s Safer KC website.


New Life for a Historic Kansas City Treasure

We are fortunate to work on projects here at Helix that often make us step back and think, “wow…we are so lucky to live in such a beautiful city.” The recent renovation of the historic Baltimore Club building is one of those projects.

Standing on the rooftop event space you can’t help but feel proud of downtown Kansas City and the transformation that continues to take place. Take a peek for yourself…

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The building itself is a Kansas City treasure featuring ornate details and a rich history. The event spaces, recently renamed the Brass on Baltimore, offer a balance of historic character (the stain glass windows in the Tudor room are extraordinary!) and modern amenities.

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Helix transformed the penthouse apartments on the 15th floor into a new indoor-outdoor event space with stunning views of downtown Kansas City.

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What an amazing place to host a party!

Helix Architecture + Design, Baltimore Club

How lucky are we that we get to help bring spaces like this to life?

Cheers to you, KC!

You can find more info on the Brass on Baltimore event spaces on their website and more about the building’s history as the Kansas City Club on our recent blog post. The renovation was also featured recently in the Kansas City Business Journal.

All photos credited to Michael Robinson Photography.

Video Credited to Blackburrow Creative.


11 November, 2015 | Renovation

Rave Reviews for the Newly Renovated National Museum of Toys & Miniatures

Dollhouses, Star Wars figurines, pedal cars and the world’s largest fine-scale miniature collection are just a few of the treasures you will find at the newly renovated National Museum of Toys & Miniatures. After a year-long $8 million renovation, the museum reopened on August 1st to rave reviews and the Helix Architecture + Design team couldn’t be more proud of the results.

KC Parent said, “Wow, this is one amazing makeover! A streamlined entry and revised floorplan simplify things for visitors but retains the magic and whimsy we’ve loved for years.”  Spaces Magazine said, “This hidden gem is definitely on its way to being a main Kansas City attraction.” And Visit KC shared some of their favorite finds, including the two-story spinning helix “Toytisserie” sculpture created by artist Sarah Lugg Regan.

Steve Paul’s editorial in the KC Star highlighted the collaboration between the Helix design team, museum leaders and exhibit designer, West Office to reconfigure the space. The result is “a bright and fresh new layout and a wholly transformed exhibit strategy.”

The Pitch recognized the, “newly reopened, stunningly improved” museum in their “Best of Kansas City” awards saying, “we’re not sorry to say childlike wonder is what we felt when we toured the renovated space.” And, most recently Wired magazine noted it as a must-see in their article spotlighting Kansas City.

Over 72,000 toys and miniatures call the museum home, but we couldn’t resist highlighting one of our favorites – the miniature Vitra furniture!

We also love Sarah Lugg Regan’s process of creating the “Toytisserie” from 330-gallons of toys donated by local Kansas-citians. KCUR did a great feature on the installation.

We highly recommend you go check it out yourself. Info on the museum’s hours and their collection can be found on their website.

All images credited to Aaron Dougherty Photography.

 


29 October, 2015 | Leadership

PDX + ULI: Bringing New Development Ideas Home to Kansas City

During the month of September I had the opportunity to attend the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Exchange trip to Portland and the Urban Land Institute’s Fall Conference in San Francisco. While the focus of these two events was different, I left both energized with new ideas to share with the rest of the Helix team and others in the Kansas City community who share our passion for making KC a healthy, growing, culture-filled place that people love to call home.

These are just a few of the takeaways that caught my attention and seemed to continuously appear throughout varied presentations I attended. While I view these ideas through the eyes of a designer, I would love to hear the perspectives of others. Hopefully this is just the beginning of an ongoing conversation about how we can continue to elevate our city.

We make our own luck
Many urbanists say that Portland is lucky to have the city they do today, but I say they made their own luck. 35 years ago, following state legislation that set agriculture and the environment as the two topics that are most dear to Oregonians, the people of Portland established their Urban Growth Boundary. Fast forward to today, and Portland now has the kind of city that the next generations want; dense urban places where business and culture can thrive in a setting that supports walking, biking and all forms of rail travel. If Portland was lucky, they made their own luck with their UGB. As Kansas City plans for growth we need to look beyond the current trends to what people will want in a city 30 years from now.

Culture is the new currency
Play. Work. Live. That is the order of how people adopt new places. Grand master plans are great, but the cities that nurture and support rich urban cultures, especially around the arts, will attract locals and visitors alike who want to be where that vibe exists. And, cities made up of single use districts (financial, residential, service) are going to be things of the past. It isn’t enough to create mixed-use districts; we need to create districts that put culture and experience first. If you do that housing and office development will follow. The Crossroads Arts District in KC is a prime example of this development pattern. We have so many great urban neighborhoods in KC – the Northeast, 18th & Vine, the West Bottoms – the list is too long to note them all. Where are these next pockets of culture in our community and what can we do together to help them thrive and grow?

The next MAJOR disruptor to commercial real estate
Autonomous vehicles. The world we live in today where we need several places to park our cars will be gone in  15 years. To get around we’ll simply notify the ride service that we use to pick us up and deliver us to our destinations Think of what that means? All of those parking spaces and garages that we’ve built will be ripe for repurposing. As our urban centers continue along the path of urban redevelopment we need to avoid over-building additional parking and make sure that any new structures are capable of adapting to other uses.

Tired of hearing about Millenials?
Well, Gen Z, the group following the Millenials will be in the workforce in 5 years and they are even larger in numbers than their predecessors. As the first TRUE digital natives, they look at the world differently. Because of technology they have lived their entire lives untethered so for them, ‘work’ will no longer be someplace they go but something they do. Their belief system will continue to change how and where we work.  The New York Times and Fortune magazine have published some really exceptional articles on the demographics of this generation and the potential impact they will have on the workplace environment.

What’s next in sustainable design?
For years energy use has been the primary driver behind sustainable development but water constraints will increasingly shape world-wide development patterns, and therefore our real estate. It’s also projected that 80% of the buildings we will need and occupy in 2050 already exist today. For those of us who believe that preserving existing buildings is one of the most effective ways to ensure both environmental and cultural sustainability, we couldn’t be more pleased to hear this news.

If you want to dig deeper on these two great events you can find the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce recap of the Portland Leadership Exchange HEREULI’s recap of the Fall Meeting HERE and videos of ULI presentations from the Fall Meeting HERE.

Open PhotoInsights from Helix principal, Jay Tomlinson Insights from Helix principal, Jay Tomlinson
Open PhotoMixed Use + Bike lanes. A great combo in PDX. Mixed Use + Bike lanes. A great combo in PDX.
Open PhotoFarm to table dinner with other KC leaders in PDX. Farm to table dinner with other KC leaders in PDX.
Open PhotoSan Francisco’s historic Pickwick Hotel is ALMOST as cool as KC’s. San Francisco’s historic Pickwick Hotel is ALMOST as cool as KC’s.

16 October, 2015 | Awards

Helix Brings Home Two Design Excellence Awards From AIA Central States Region

Each year the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Central States Region recognizes the most exceptional projects and firms throughout the five-state region at their annual Excellence in Design awards. The 2015 awards ceremony, hosted in Des Moines, Iowa, recognized the work of Helix Architecture + Design for two distinguished Kansas City institutions, the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) and Kansas City University (KCU). The renovation and expansion of the KCPD Headquarters was one of only three projects to receive the highest award, an Honor Award in the Architecture category. The KCU Academic Center received a Merit Award in the Interior Architecture category. AIA Central States received over two-hundred submissions from across the region.

“Although they each have their own unique mission, both KCPD and KCU are cornerstone institutions within the Kansas City community,” said Reeves Wiedeman, principal with Helix. “Their investment in these facilities reflects their commitment to creating a quality environment for the people they serve and their employees. We are extremely proud to see our work for both organizations recognized among the best architecture in the region.”

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The renovation and expansion of the KCPD Headquarters was designed to re-position the facility for another 70 years of service to the community while respecting the character of the historic structure. An important goal of the project 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.

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Jury comments for the Police Headquarters included:

“A beautifully integrated new public face for the Kansas City Police Department uses a series of strong elements to create transparency and openness.”

“The appropriately scaled addition is organized under a hovering patterned, coffered concrete structural slab, giving the space a strong graphic element while providing daylighting and concealing utilities.”

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The KCU Academic Center renovation transformed an underutilized, 1,500-seat auditorium 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. This resourceful solution saved nearly a third of what it might otherwise cost to build a new lecture facility. The Academic Center’s transformation from a seldom-used facility to a hub of active learning and collaboration has given KCU students and faculty a truly functional, beautiful new home.

“It’s an honor to be recognized for the work we have done to create the most student-focused environment in the nation,” said Marc B. Hahn, DO, president and chief executive officer of KCU. “Helix Architecture + Design has been a true partner throughout this undertaking, as they understand the needs of our students and embrace our vision.”

Jury comments for the Academic Center included:

“Beautiful redesign of an underutilized lecture hall, expanding its utility significantly.”

“Clear distinction between upper and lower lecture halls is quite nice – plaster -vs- wood, but both relate to one-another and hold together as a unified project.”

“Details are quite beautiful – sweeping curves of the plaster work and craftsmanship of the wood liner.”

“Love the subtle innovation of having two rows per lecture hall tier to allow for small group discussions – great idea.”

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The 2015 AIA Central States design award jury was comprised of nationally recognized designers, including Jennifer Yoos, Principal at VJAA; William Baxley, Vice President and Director of Design at Leo A Daly; and Marc Swackhamer, Head + Associate Professor, School of Architecture, University of Minnesota. In order to be eligible for consideration projects had to be completed within that last five years and designed by an AIA Central States member or located in the five-state region, which includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Congratulations to our clients at the Kansas City Police Department and Kansas City University, our engineering and construction partners and all of our design team members. Successful projects are only achieved through strong relationships across all team members and these awards belong to all of you.


Helix Principal, Kristine Sutherlin Elected President of the Kansas City Architectural Foundation

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Congratulations to Helix principal, Kristine Sutherlin on being elected president of the Kansas City Architectural Foundation (KCAF) board. The organization has a tremendous impact on the Kansas City design community by granting scholarships to architectural students from the metropolitan area and hosting outreach events that educate citizens on the power of architecture to transform lives and improve the places where we live, learn, work, and play. Kristine has been involved with the organization since 2013 and recently finished a term as the organization’s vice president.

Since it was founded in 1984, KCAF has awarded more than 140 scholarships totaling over $250,000 to students from the Kansas City area. Over the next year the organization will be kicking off a capital campaign to increase the number and amount of student scholarships they provide.

Why is KCAF such an important organization for our community? We asked President Sutherlin herself.

“As college costs continue to escalate it is critical that we expand our reach within the design community. We want to make pursuing a career in architecture accessible for anyone that has a passion for this industry. Our scholarships have assisted some extraordinarily talented students and there is so much more that we can do as an industry to help support and train the next generation.”

Keep up the good work Kristine and thank you for helping to support young designers. We couldn’t be more proud to have you as one of the fearless leaders of our Helix family!


25 September, 2015 | Helix People, Leadership, Recognition

Katie’s “Magic” ARE Formula

CROWLEY Katie

Our licensed architects are multiplying here at Helix and we can barely keep up with sharing the news! We are excited to announce that another one of team members, Katie Crowley, is officially a licensed architect. What does that mean? It means that Katie passed the grueling seven-part Architectural Registration Exam (ARE), logged all the necessary Intern Development Program (IDP) hours, and can now officially call herself an architect.

Did we mention Katie is only four years out of school? She graduated from the University of Kansas is 2011 before joining Helix in 2013. Over the last year she has been working on the adaptive reuse of the 301 E. Armour building into multi-family residential apartments and the renovation of the James C. Olson Performing Arts Theater for the Kansas City Repertory Theatre and UMKC. She was also recently selected for AIA Kansas City’s 2015-2016 class of the Pillars Leadership Program. She’s a bit of a dynamo.

We asked Katie to share her secret to success and what’s next.

Q: Any weird study habits?
A:  Flashcards + Coffee = The Magic Formula.  I became a regular at many coffee shops! By the end of it I started to get a lot of looks and comments from other regulars. They were all thinking, “Really you’re studying for another one!”

Q: While taking the exams, did you find that you have a favorite subject matter?
A: Surprisingly, I got really interested in learning about contract documents and the project management side of architecture.

Q: Any favorite pump up music or playlists?
A: I think I had a different Spotify playlist for every exam.  The playlists had a mix of every genre of song you could think of (variety was the key to keeping me awake during many late nights).  But, when things got really tough I could always rely on a good old school 90’s playlist!

Q: What do you plan on doing with all your extra free time now that you aren’t studying for your exams?
A: I love to train and run half marathons so I hope to find time to do more races.  Running a race through Napa is top of my list 🙂

Q: Any words of encouragement for other architects who are currently studying for and/or taking their AREs?
A:  Just keep going!  All of the tests seem really overwhelming and are a lot of work, but it is totally worth it.

There you have it! 90’s music, flash cards, and the promise of a half marathon through Napa. Congratulations, Katie! We are so proud.

 


23 September, 2015 | Helix People

What if we’re meant for each other?

Helix is looking for an interior designer. As a designer at Helix you’ll be assisting on all phases of workplace, higher education, hospitality and historic renovation/preservation projects. Interested in joining our people? We’d love to hear from you. Read more about the position on our careers page and send us your resume at resume@helixkc.com for immediate consideration.


KCPD Renovation + Expansion

Helix_KCPDHQ_ExtDet_0219_LRHelix had the privilege of working with the Kansas City Police Department and City of Kansas City, Missouri on the recent renovation and expansion of their downtown Police Headquarters. The renovation was designed to re-position the facility for another 70-years of service to the community, and to do so while respecting the character of the historic structure.

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An important goal of this project was to increase transparency and expand Police interaction with the community. This involved extensive changes to the first floor including a monumental public lobby, unobtrusive security, and the addition of a large community meeting space.

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Beyond addressing space requirements, the Police Department wanted to create a welcoming first impression for visitors, and a facility suited for collaboration, efficiency, team-building, and celebration. Central to the design, too, was the need to communicate the Department’s rich history of community service. The new addition on the ground floor allows the public to engage in the Board of Police Commissioners meetings and serves as a venue for Police community outreach programming.

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The renovation addresses many years of deferred maintenance and features energy saving and water conservation strategies. Increased indoor air quality, natural light, and accessible routes provide a modern workplace for the Police and equal access for the public.

The project scope also included repairing the core and shell of the building – including exterior masonry restoration, building envelope improvements, window and roof replacement, streetscape design and systems upgrades. The systems upgrades are housed in an addition to the north of the historic structure, which increased useable space within the historic structure.

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The city’s commitment to LEED guided design decisions toward sustainable solutions. Anticipated to receive LEED Gold certification, sustainability features include: re-use of existing building materials, integration of efficient HVAC systems, low-flow plumbing fixtures, daylighting and efficient lighting, and a green roof.

Images by Micheal Robinson Photography

 

 


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