Browsing Community Outreach

Public Interest Design Institute Comes to Kansas City

Design Corps and the SEED Network recently collaborated to bring the Public Interest Design Institute to Kansas City for a two-day conference. The conference was inspired by the ideas and efforts of notable Public Interest Designer Bryan Bell, who has sparked a global movement toward a new approach to design. Public Interest Design goes beyond the typical scope of projects which simply address the architectural needs of the client and community to also consider social, economic, and environmental impacts.

Conference participants were introduced to global and local examples of PID projects. Through an open forum, presenters exchanged opportunities and challenges encountered in PID projects and also discussed the use of the SEED (Social, Economic, and Environmental Design) metric system as a framework for project development.

Public Interest Design has grown in popularity in the field of architecture through publications such as Design Like You Give A Damn, exhibits like MoMA’s Small Scale, Big Change, and organizations such as Architecture for Humanity. Inspired by the ideas and experiences shared at the conference, Helix is eager to implement PID projects and utilize the SEED metric to evaluate design efforts. Helix also intends to include the valuable information and resources gained into future participation with Better Blocks Kansas City and the HOPE Center via Eco Abet.

Open PhotoRebuild South Sudan, Jalle School: Investing in a community with few physical resources and a large population of refugee residents, Rebuild South Sudan recognized an enormous need for education. The Jalle Peace School will include a library, classrooms, computer center, administrative offices, and community space. The standing structure proudly marks the completion of phase one in a three phase project. Rebuild South Sudan, Jalle School: Investing in a community with few physical resources and a large population of refugee residents, Rebuild South Sudan recognized an enormous need for education. The Jalle Peace School will include a library, classrooms, computer center, administrative offices, and community space. The standing structure proudly marks the completion of phase one in a three phase project.
Open PhotobcWORKSHOP, Congo Street Initiative: Engaged in a street transformation of a socially and economically fragmented area of Dallas, bcWORKSHOP partnered with residents and homeowners to develop housing solutions appropriate to the community residents with a high level of design. Place and permanence were key concepts to the Congo Street Initiative; a holding house was first implemented on a vacant lot on the street to allow residents to stay near their home while construction continued on their own residence. bcWORKSHOP, Congo Street Initiative: Engaged in a street transformation of a socially and economically fragmented area of Dallas, bcWORKSHOP partnered with residents and homeowners to develop housing solutions appropriate to the community residents with a high level of design. Place and permanence were key concepts to the Congo Street Initiative; a holding house was first implemented on a vacant lot on the street to allow residents to stay near their home while construction continued on their own residence.

The Importance of Working with Section 3 and MWBE Businesses

It’s about helping the city build itself, together.

-Reeves W. Wiedeman

Like many of our previous projects—such as the KCFD Station 36, KCPD Headquarters, Highland Place, and the Richard Bolling Federal Building—the KCPD East Patrol Campus has involved an number of MWBE and Section 3 businesses.

Because the East Patrol Campus will be located at 27th and Vine, an area that is predominantly minority populated, Helix felt it was crucial to be as inclusive as possible. We wanted to involve the local community in our design efforts. Out of the twenty-two firms making up the architectural/design team, thirteen are Certified MBE (Minority Business Enterprise), WBE (Women Business Enterprise), or Section 3 businesses. A list of design team participants can be found here. Several people belonging to these firms work at our offices to foster collaboration. Helix has since hired an additional three African American artists to participate on exterior design.

It was important for Helix, led by Principal Reeves Wiedeman, to not only meet the requirements for MWBE/Section 3 participation set by the city, but to exceed them. We view MWBE and Section 3 as sensible programs—programs that make both social and business sense. We received the East Patrol Campus contract when the economy was down and, as prime architect, felt it was our responsibility to encourage the economic growth of the area in which we were working. This decision to surpass the minimum requirements reflects several of our company’s core values (Design, Service, Culture, Operations, and Legacy).

Service
We believe in out-serving our client’s expectations.

Operations
Helix believes in making smart, progressive, and environmentally responsible choices.

Legacy
Helix believes in setting the standards others follow.

Read more about the KCPD East Patrol Campus in one of our previous posts.


In memory of Spencer, we would like to honor the brave men and women who have given and who continue to give of themselves to ensure freedom for the people of the United States. The Spencer C. Duncan Make It Count Project is dedicated to supporting organizations, communities, and individuals who choose to make a difference in the lives of veterans. Please join alongside us.  Together, we can MAKE IT COUNT. In memory of Spencer, we would like to honor the brave men and women who have given and who continue to give of themselves to ensure freedom for the people of the United States. The Spencer C. Duncan Make It Count Project is dedicated to supporting organizations, communities, and individuals who choose to make a difference in the lives of veterans. Please join alongside us. Together, we can MAKE IT COUNT.

KCPD East Patrol Campus

The Kansas City Police Department East Patrol division is committed to having a positive influence on the community starting from the design of their new campus. The East Patrol Campus—comprised of a police station, a multi-purpose building, a crime lab, and a property and evidence repository—will be located on 27th and Prospect, right in the middle of where they currently receive the most calls for service.

Project officials have specifically sought out Section 3 businesses to work with and the project will provide employment and training opportunities for low income residents during the estimated 24 months of construction. The whole design and decision making process has been made accessible and transparent to the community through public meetings, the East Patrol website, and the bimonthly newsletter. These resources are a wonderful way to see how, where, and why your tax dollars are being spent. They also serve to showcase the design process at Helix and demonstrate how every design decision, from location to design partnership to material usage, is made consciously.


Architect’s Top 50

Helix is proud to announce that, as a firm, we are 48th in the U.S. in Design Excellence/Pro Bono architecture and 37th in Sustainability according to ARCHITECT Magazine’s 2012 Top 50 survey.  Check out the other firms around the nation that were recognized by clicking on the image above.


Color + Couture Sneek Peak

Helix is teaming up with Messerschmitt, Inc. for this year’s Color + Couture, a fashion show put on by the International Interior Design Association and creatively-awesome local design firms paired with equally great product manufacturers. Last year we designed this fabulous carpet Can-can dress:

Credit: fotographix studio | joseph xiong

This year’s theme is “Avant-garde” and here is a sneak peak of what we will be strutting down the runway tomorrow night at the Starlight Theatre:


Developments of Distinction

Congratulations to MO Bank, 18Broadway, Legoland/Sea Life, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and Posty Cards for the honor of receiving the Urban Land Institute of Kansas City‘s Developments of Distinction Awards and to Kay Barnes and Carol Marinovich for receiving Lifetime Achievement Awards. The award ceremony will be November 13th, 2012.

Urban Land Institute – Developments of Distinction Awards 2012 from Mike Varel on Vimeo.



Helix Annual Summer Staff Meeting

Recently, the Helix staff took a break from the office for the afternoon and traveled to the east side of Kansas City.  While typically the primary purpose for an annual meeting is to update staff on the status of the company, this outing was so much more.

After a delicious southern style lunch at Papa Lew’s, the staff viewed 3 project sites.  The first was the Kansas City University of Medicine and Bio-sciences Campus which is working with Helix to develop a new master plan for the future direction of the school.  The second, Highland Place Apartments offer a refresh to housing options in a neighborhood that has seen neglect in the past.  Finally, Helix viewed the future site of the East Police Patrol Campus.  The project will consist of a state-of-the-art Crime Lab, and will be situated 27th & Prospect, the heart of a neighborhood with one of the highest crime rates in the nation.

After this introduction to the area, the Helix staff settled in at the historic Mutual Musicians Foundation where Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and Police Commissioner Alvin Brooks spoke about the history of the East Side and the 27th & Prospect neighborhood.

Reeves Weideman and Commissioner Brooks

Following a brief update on the status of Helix itself, staffers were able to enjoy the Piano styling of Kansas City Jazz Legend Luqman Hamza, who, at 80 years old, also shared a few of his experiences and thoughts about the East Side.

Luqman Hamza, Jazz Legend

From there, the staff ventured to 18th and vine to experience the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the American Jazz Museum, and finish the day with a drink at the at the 9th Inning Sports Bar.  Overall, the annual summer meeting offered the staff a glimpse into an often overlooked cultural center.

Jason Parson and Congressman Cleaver

Thank you to Jason Parson of Parson & Associates (Grandson of the great Jay McShann) for organizing such an amazing and enlightening afternoon.  Helix is thrilled to be a part of a community with such a rich history and promising future.

Helix Staff

Videographer: Ernes Echols

Photographer: Lynn Hinkle


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