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Missouri State University Historic Renovation Merges Past and Present

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


26 October, 2017 | Academic, Awards, Innovative, 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.

HelixKCUMB-2_134_LR

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.”

HelixKCUMB_6625_LR

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.


Missouri State University Historic Renovation Merges Past and Present

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Elevating Arts Education for Kansas City Kids

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

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

Kansas City Young Audiences

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

AFIA_2

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

AFIA Classroom

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

AFIA Classroom

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

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

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


13 April, 2017 | Academic, Awards, Historic Renovation

Norrington Center at Park University wins Historic Kansas City Preservation Award

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. Two weeks ago 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.

We are honored that our work on the renovation of Park University’s Norrington Center was among those honored for its preservation and reinvestment in the last remaining Carnegie Library on a college campus in the State of Missouri. The Norrington Center received an Excellence Award in the Contemporary Design in a Historic Context category, which is given to a project that displays innovative contemporary design in a historic context.

norrington-study-spacehelix_norrigntonhall_1515_lrnorrington-hall-coffee-shop

The Carnegie Corporation of New York built 35 public and academic libraries in the state of Missouri between 1899 and 1917. Only one of the academic libraries is still remaining today and that is Norrington Hall on Park University’s campus. Built in 1908, Norrington Hall originally served as the campus library until those services were relocated in the 1980’s. At that time the interior was converted into office and classroom spaces. In 2015, Park University initiated a renovation to return the building to its original roots as a 21st century state-of-the-art library and academic commons.

Norrington Before & After

The majority of the historic character on the interior of the building had been removed during previous renovations but the Helix design team preserved those most defining of the building, including the grand open entry stairwell that connects the first and second floor, the stained glass window in the stairwell landing, ornamental guardrails, wood handrails, stone wall cladding and terrazzo floor finishes in the entry hall. The interior environment was transformed into modern academic and study spaces that will serve the university and make the building viable for years to come.

Norrington Beforehelix_norrigntonhall_1552_lr

The three-story steel and glass floor library stack spaces were inaccessible and unusable for today’s modern academic library. It was removed and the second floor was expanded to create a gallery space with access to restrooms while the first floor was converted into a coffee shop and study space. The design solution increased the functionality of the space while preserving the original windows that spanned the first two floors.

HyperFocal: 0

In order to provide ADA accessibility without altering the historic front entry facade of the building, a new ADA accessible entry vestibule was designed on the rear of the building along with an open patio to create a welcoming secondary entry point along a primarily pedestrian circulation route between the historic Norrington Center and the campus’s historic and iconic administration building, Mackay Hall.

Park University’s investment ensures people will continue to experience the beauty and craftsmanship of this historic structure 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.


5 January, 2017 | Academic, Design, Recognition

UMKC + Helix Announce 2016 Bud Prize Scholarship Winners

header_image_bud_prizeThe UMKC Department of Architecture, Urban Planning & Design teams up with Helix each fall semester for the Bud Prize – a design competition and scholarship grant awarded to students attending UMKC. The annual scholarship was created in honor of the late Bud Persons, who was a Senior Interior Architect with Helix when he unexpectedly passed away in 2002. The award recognizes the his vibrant life and work by promoting the study and knowledge of architecture and design.

This year, eleven second-year students were challenged to create a book store, cafe, gallery, owner’s residence and a guest apartment in an existing property at the corner of 39th and Mercier.

2016-jury-768x504Helix principal Trevor Hoiland, served on the jury this year, alongside:

  • Bill Bruning, The Bruning Company
  • Patricia O’Dell, Writer & UMKC Communication Coordinator
  • Jay Siebenmorgen, Kansas State University Dept. of Architecture  
  • Joy Swallow, UMKC Dept. of Architecture, Urban Planning + Design

The jury selected Calistro Reyes for the first place award; honorable mentions were awarded to Samantha Davis and Tayvia Navy.

bud-prize-projects_4“Calistro created a strong diagram that was developed into a very believable concept. There was consistent development throughout the project and he had complete drawings and a well-crafted model. His presentation was very articulate and complete,” Hoiland said about the first place project.

Congratulations to all the UMKC students on their hard work and for carrying on Bud’s legacy through your efforts in design. To read more about the winning projects, check out UMKC’s blog post about this year’s Bud Prize.


21 November, 2016 | Academic, Awards, Design

Kansas City University Academic Center Receives “Honor Award” at AIA Kansas City’s 2016 Design Excellence Awards

As a firm that focuses on people-centered design, we measure our success on the impact a building has on the people it serves – how it functions and the experience it creates. At Helix, we are perpetually in search of these opportunities to go beyond the functional need of a space and create an exceptional environment and experience.

One of our projects that exemplifies this approach, the  Kansas City University of Medicine & Biosciences (KCU) Academic Center was recently recognized with an “Honor Award” in the Interior Architecture category at AIA Kansas City’s annual Design Excellence awards

HelixKCUMB-2_134_LR

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.”

HelixKCUMB_6625_LR

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 also received a Merit Award for Interior Architecture at AIA Central States 2015 Design Excellence Awards.

Congratulations to our clients at Kansas City University of Medicine & Biosciences, our construction partners at McCownGordon Construction, our engineering partners and all of our Helix design team members. Successful projects are only achieved through strong relationships across all team members and these awards truly belong to all of you.


23 September, 2016 | Academic, Historic Renovation, Renovation

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

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

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

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

norrington-hall-coffee-shop

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

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

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

All images by Michael Robinson Photography


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

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

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

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

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

Helix, KC Rep, Kansas City MO

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

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

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

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

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

Before & After of Olson Performing Arts Center at UMKC

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

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

Photography by Michael Robinson.


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