Browsing Community Outreach

Centurions Class of 2017

The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce recently announced the Centurions Class of 2017 including Helix principal, Alissa Wehmueller. Anyone that has met Alissa through her involvement in IIDA, Kansas City Design Week, the Mayor’s Challenge Cabinet or her many other community activities know firsthand the passion she has for Kansas City.

Where does her love of this fine city come from? We asked Alissa.

You’re not from KC originally – what has kept you here?
Marrying a handsome KC native! Honestly, when I moved here I didn’t necessarily know if it was a long-term decision. But the growth and changes that have happened in this community in the last decade have been remarkable to see and be a part of. Kansas City is a great size – this balance between the amenities of a large city and the values of a small town. I believe your happiness in a place depends on what you put into it.

Who is a KC leader you admire?
Mayor Sly James! He’s brought an approachability and energy to City Hall that’s really special. I’ve seen him crash a table of designers at happy hour and have a quiet breakfast with friends at Union Station early in the morning – he’s present. I find myself bragging about how cool our mayor is to people outside Kansas City (not cool – frosty!) This has to be a fun time to be leading Kansas City, I’m sure it’s very hard work but I hope he’s enjoying it.

Why did you want to join the Centurions program?  
As my husband and I deepen our roots here, through our home, our careers and our family, I want this city to thrive and I feel a responsibility to contribute. I feel really lucky to be part of an industry that literally gets to build our community – create buildings and spaces for the people working, learning and playing here. I want to be educated and informed about the city, our needs, challenges and goals. I’m looking to Centurions to learn the best way to get engaged with organizations in a valuable way – I don’t want to fill a seat on a board to keep a chair warm, I want to help.

What do you hope to gain from the program?
Centurions has been tagged a ‘Master’s degree in Kansas City’, I like thinking of it that way. Everyone I know that has participated in the program has been very honest – it’s a big time commitment and a lot of work – but they’ve also said it’s one of the most rewarding things they’ve done personally and professionally.

Any advice for fellow transplants to KC?
Be present in the city – attend new events, get out to Kauffman, wake up early and get to the farmer’s market, wander around the plaza, get to know your neighbors. Bloom where you’re planted.

From all of us at Helix, congratulations and cheers, Alissa!


16 July, 2015 | Community Outreach

Placemaking at Barney Allis Plaza


The people who brought you The Fiery Stick and the Midnight Underground are back… and we couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it!  LiveKC – whose mission is to make Kansas City a more attractive place for Millennials to live, work and play – has a new ambition this summer: “Wage war with the couches of Kansas City, and disrupt the commuter culture of Kansas City”.

How do they plan on doing this? By “bringing together remarkable design, unexpected amenities and regular programs that transform the Barney Allis Plaza ‘Public Space’ into a ‘Place’”.  A place that LiveKC refers to as The Backyard.

The goal of placemaking is to create public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well being. LiveKC has already hosted various community events and charrettes, getting input and feedback from the downtown community along the way. The next steps for The Backyard team includes introducing temporary design solutions, allowing for the plaza to become a testing grounds for various configurations, programs, and events.  Doing so will help inform future design decisions and master planning for the plaza.

LiveKC has teamed up with local partners including Helix, HNTB, and KCDC to help bring the future vision of Barney Allis Plaza to life. Things to look forward to this summer include new outdoor furniture additions, regular activities (leisure sports leagues and fitness classes), and large event concepts. We may have even heard someone say “Pong Fest”.

To stay up-to-date on weekly events, follow LiveKC on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

A New Addition to Kansas City

Two hundred people showed up for the ribbon cutting and grand “re-opening” of Kansas City’s newly refurbished downtown Police Headquarters designed by Helix.  The afternoon offered rare behind the scenes tours of the project to the general public and an exhibit on the history of the police department.

The original building was designed by prominent Kansas City architects Wight & White  (also designers of the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art).  Police Headquarters along with City Hall and the Jackson County Courthouse buildings form a civic plaza in the heart of the government district downtown.  Work is concluded on the first full renovation of Headquarters since it was constructed in 1938. The $28 million remodel was funded by the quarter-cent public safety sales tax approved by voters. The renovation provides adequate space and up-to-date facilities for administrative and investigative employees of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department. It includes the addition of a tower on the north side of the building and a spacious community room. Police Headquarters is now compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Visitors will be able to view the numerous historical artifacts and photos on display from the KCPD’s 140-year history, thanks to the Kansas City Police Historical Society. To read more, check out the latest article in The Kansas City Star!

Helix | HGA Team are Awarded UMKC Conservatory Project!

We are honored and excited to be selected with HGA to create a new home for the UMKC Downtown Conservatory of Music and Dance in the Kansas City Crossroads.  This is a monumental time for UMKC and the Kansas City community, and we are very eager to collaborate with all on this landmark project.  The design charrette process that took us to this point was intensive and many schemes for the building were explored, including the rendering shown at the right.




Open PhotoHelix welcomes UMKC to the KC Crossroads! Helix welcomes UMKC to the KC Crossroads!
Open PhotoPictured here is one of the options explored during the design charrette process. Pictured here is one of the options explored during the design charrette process.

13 August, 2014 | Community Outreach

Spencer C. Duncan ‘Make It Count’

Helix is a yearly supporter of the Spencer C Duncan Make It Count 5K.  The event honors Spencer Duncan and others who lost their lives while serving our nation.  Proceeds for the event go toward organizations that benefit our veterans.

This year Bryan Gross was the fastest Helix employee, and the fastest in his age group.  Congratulations, Bryan on your first place medal!


Open PhotoBryan Gross Crossing the Finish Line Bryan Gross Crossing the Finish Line

2014 EDC Awards

The 2014 EDC Cornerstone Awards were especially enjoyable this year, as we celebrated three project award finalists and one client company award.

The first finalist, the Richard Bolling Federal Building was the result of 14 years of wonderful collaboration with the US General Services Administration and GWH.  At 1.2 million square foot, the project made a huge impact to daily working lives of its 4,000 employees.

The success of the second award finalist, Live Blue in Zona Rosa, could not have been achieved without the vision of Blue Cross and Blue Shield (of KC) leadership.  The project is an innovative model, demonstrating how a health insurance company can impact the well being of it’s community.  The project would not have been possible without a welcoming reception to new ideas and collaborative nature of client and designer alike.

Highland Place Apartments was not only a finalist, but winner of an EDC Award!  The historic significance of the single and multi-family homes and The Rochester Hotel made the preservation of these buildings absolutely critical to the Historic 18th and Vine Jazz District.

Finally, Sporting Innovations, as a technology start-up company, was recipient of a Launch KC Award.

The award ceremony was followed by a social hour, where we had a chance to celebrate the projects’ successes, gain more insight into what motivates our clients, and learn more about our clients’ prior experiences that will continue to inform future successes.

“We Care” 2013

In the midst of sickness and sluggishness that cold weather brings, a contagious case of holiday cheer recently spread through the Helix office. A large group of Helix employees eagerly participated in the annual “We Care” event this year and subsequently transformed our resource library into something resembling an elf’s workshop. “We Care,” hosted and sponsored nationally by Herman Miller, took place last week at the Thornberry Boys and Girls Club for the event’s Kansas City region. The design community came together for a joy-filled evening of creating and sharing holiday crafts with local children. Over 13 architecture and design firms participated, along with a variety of dealer partners, alliance partners and volunteer groups. By the end of the night, our industrious group of Helix elves had supplied over 125 custom-decaled scarves to appreciative children.

Creating a “Better Block”

Last Friday, Helix’s Matt Kleinmann and Carissa Loehr played crucial roles in developing Kansas City’s second ever Better Block KC event. Better Block’s objective is to imagine a ‘complete streets’ vision where temporary design concepts are implemented to highlight the potential viability of a more walkable and sustainable community.

This year’s Better Block focused on introducing the Crossroads neighborhood to a tangible expression of the proposed KC Streetcar. Working with members of such organizations as USGBC, HDR, and KCRTA, Helix sponsored the display of a full-scale streetcar mock-up. The mock-up gave the public a very real experience of how a pedestrian-oriented streetscape can become a catalyst for transit-oriented development.

For more information regarding the concepts addressed in the Better Block model, visit the following link:

Open PhotoThe chosen site for Kansas City's second annual Better Block demonstration is situated at the corner of 19th and Main Street. The chosen site for Kansas City's second annual Better Block demonstration is situated at the corner of 19th and Main Street.
Open PhotoAfter the Better Block installation, a full-scale KC Streetcar mock-up and kiosks representing corresponding development bring new energy and life to the same location as pictured above. After the Better Block installation, a full-scale KC Streetcar mock-up and kiosks representing corresponding development bring new energy and life to the same location as pictured above.

2 October, 2013 | Community Outreach, Culture, Cycling

Helix Bikers Join MS 150

The biking culture is alive at Helix, and what better way to celebrate that fact than to combine the biking experience with a good cause. Mark Neibling and Mason Hansen, Helix’s most avid bikers, rode with team “Cutters” in the MS150 the weekend of September 14th and 15th. The route took participants from Olathe, Kansas to South Park in Lawrence, Kansas where members camped overnight. The event was very successful, especially for Team Cutter’s who raised $25,972 for the MS cause!

Open PhotoPictured above are Mark Neibling and Mason Hansen of Helix riding in the MS150. Pictured above are Mark Neibling and Mason Hansen of Helix riding in the MS150.

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