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Kansas City University Breaks Ground on New Center for Medical Education Innovation

Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences (KCU), one of the top 10 educators of physicians in the U.S., broke ground this morning on a new state-of-the-art Center for Medical Education Innovation (CMEI). Designed through a partnership between Helix Architecture + Design and CO Architects, the 56,000-square-foot facility will provide the latest in virtual reality, haptic technology and simulated clinical experiences for educating the next generation of physicians and health sciences professionals.

The $33 million facility will be built on four levels and will feature multifunctional “future-proof” space that will allow for changes and emerging technologies in the coming years. It will also serve as a resource for students and health care professionals throughout the region, offering opportunities for continuing medical education, inter-professional education and active research in academic collaboration.

The building will feature standardized patient rooms (where trained actors play the role of patients), high-fidelity simulation rooms (where medical robots display a variety of disease processes), a skills simulation deck that utilizes the latest in virtual reality and haptic technologies, and a simulation command center. It will also include nearly 13,000 square feet of classroom space and an advanced physical diagnosis and Osteopathic Manipulation Medicine.

“The CMEI will be much more than a building. It will redefine our campus, our neighborhood and the Kansas City medical community, just as the Center’s latest technology will redefine medical education,” commented Marc B. Hahn, DO, president and CEO of KCU. “Our students will have the opportunity to practice over and over in virtual scenarios until they are confident and prepared when it comes time to treat actual patients, thus reducing medical errors and improving health outcomes for the communities we serve.”

The University has collaborated with the city of Kansas City, Missouri, to build the CMEI center adjacent to the Paseo Gateway project, which will reconfigure the intersection of The Paseo and Independence Avenue to improve safety and traffic flow, as well as reestablish a grand entrance to the Northeast neighborhood.

The construction of the Center for Medical Education Innovation is possible in part because of a $1 million challenge grant from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation, a $1 million grant from William T. Kemper Foundation, and lead gifts from Sunderland Foundation, J. E. Dunn Construction Company, Victor E. Speas Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee, and Jack and Glenna Wylie Foundation. JE Dunn will serve as the general contractor for construction.

We are thrilled to continue our work with Kansas City University and our design partners at CO Architects to create a facility that puts the university on the forefront of health education.

Virtual tours are available online of the forum, simulation deck, standardized patient lounge and OMM loft.


16 May, 2018 | Design, New Construction

New Healthcare Concept Reimagines Patient Care in Kansas City

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC)  recently launched a new, innovative offering, Spira Care, which combines health insurance with a primary care experience. The first of its kind in the Kansas City market, Spira Care Centers, were designed to create an atmosphere of hospitality, while providing easy access to comprehensive primary care services for members, such as routine preventative care, behavioral health services, lab draws, X-rays and more, with no additional cost for procedures received at the Care Centers.

Spira Care started as an exploratory research and innovation project in early 2016. When asked about the genesis of the project, Jason Spacek, Blue KC Chief Innovation Officer shared with Forbes:

“We started with a very simple premise, ‘what if we could start all over as a health insurer?’ We looked at the complexities of the industry and the multiple parties involved and began to explore whether a “fresh start” could be a viable option. As we thought about this notion of ‘starting fresh,’ we initially focused our attention on the Millennial segment, as they were coming of age as the future consumers of healthcare. We thought that their needs and wants should be our focus if we were truly going to entertain the idea of beginning anew.”Blue KC used ethnography, focus groups and qualitative research to create a plan for Spira Care. Through the process, they identified six, key “design sprints,” like arrival, check-in and seeing the doctor. Using the data collected, Helix collaborated with Blue KC, integrated marketing agency, Barkley,  and healthcare architecture firm, Pulse Design Group to reimagine the patient experience. The project team also worked closely with customers, incorporating their feedback and using it to create the foundation of the Care Centers’ design.

In less than 24 months, those ideas have been translated into working Care Centers. The entry features bold welcoming graphics, a large bar-height reception, soft-seating lounge and coffee bar. Member experience and comfort were central to the design of the exam rooms, which include built-in bench seating and a small consultation area to discuss care with your provider. To truly welcome guests, the design team used materials and furniture not typically found in healthcare facilities.

Care Guide rooms, which are used for post-appointment conversations with a knowledgeable member of the Care Team, allow patients to coordinate further care, understand costs or review plan benefits. Other key spaces include provider and administrative workspace, conference and break rooms, and clinical support areas.

The first Spira Care Center opened in January 2018 with three more to follow by the end of the year. Photography by Michael Robinson.


26 April, 2018 | Design, Workplace

Fast-Growing, Digital Agency’s New Headquarters Designed to Evolve

DEG, a full-service, digital agency, is one of the fastest growing digital marketing firms in the country. They had already outgrown their Corporate Woods headquarters, and with plans to double in size over the next five years, they needed a space that could serve them well into the future. DEG hired Helix to design a new home that could adapt alongside their industry and accommodate the continued growth of their company.

As an organization, DEG is constantly evolving, and they were looking for a workspace that would perform in the same way.

“What is different about DEG is we are fully committed to the idea that we will anticipate change, not just react to it,” CEO and co-founder Neal Sharma said in a recent interview with the Kansas City Business Journal. “The idea is that evolution is our middle name, and we are building the company’s culture to be one that anticipates and embraces change and expects it.”

Over the years, DEG has maintained an employee retention rate north of 90 percent, so every design decision was made with their team in mind. Their new, 30,000-sq.-ft. space, located on the fifth and sixth floors of 6601 College Boulevard in Overland Park, has a mix of private office and open workstations. Organized by team, each section offers internal conference rooms, called scrum rooms, as well as quiet solo rooms where employees can take a phone call or do focused work. The wide range of seating options, including task chairs, benches, stools, soft seating, rocking chairs or treadmill workstations, allows employees to work when and where they will be most comfortable and effective throughout the day. The lobby features a Brew Bar, stocked with coffee and beers, along with an open cafe that can be used for dining, socializing or a place to plug in and work.

In alignment with their position as a full-service digital agency, technology was used purposefully throughout the space to showcase their work. The main lobby display can be customized to each client coming into their office, and a social media command center that spans six screens displays all of the metrics they are tracking. The theater also has nine, bezel-less screens that can be used independently or as one large screen for client presentations. To make technology accessible and easy to use, every TV is paired with a custom built box that houses every cord, cable or adapter that someone might need for a presentation. The high-tech environment is balanced by low-tech solutions that add warmth and approachability to the environment. Felt wraps around the exterior L-shaped walls of the scrum rooms and can be utilized for pin up presentations, employee artwork or as an opportunity to present large format brand ideas to clients.

In anticipation of future growth, Helix developed a floor plan that would allow DEG to maintain a consistent design as they expanded beyond the fifth and sixth floors. The workstations, internal conference rooms and other key components are laid out in the same manner on each floor, providing continuity of wayfinding. In order to make each floor feel special and encourage movement between floors, there is a unique amenity space on each, such as the brew bar and lounge on the sixth floor and a staff cafe on the fifth floor.  

True to their name and mission, Helix and DEG are already working together to build-out the fourth floor. With a strong, flexible concept in place, their new building will grow with them for years to come.  

You can learn more about how DEG helps clients meet their business objectives through the creative application of technology at www.degdigital.com or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


19 April, 2018 | Design, Hospitality

Caffetteria: Creating a New Hospitality Experience From Concept to Opening

The daughter of local restaurateurs, Jo Marie Scaglia, spent Sundays gathered around the table. Raised in a large, Italian family, she developed an appreciation for the connection between great food and community. While her time spent in San Francisco gave rise to her first venture, The Mixx, it was family tradition that inspired Caffetteria.

“I’ve had this concept in my head for years – probably ever since my childhood, when my mom would feed family, friends and neighbors every Sunday at a communal table where everyone could taste the love she wove into her delicious, multi-course meals. That’s Caffetteria to me,” Scaglia shared with Feast Magazine.

Jo Marie enlisted Helix Architecture + Design to create a space that embodies her love of Italian tradition, European cafes and a passion for serving real ingredients in thoughtful and inventive dishes.

Colorful and casual, the interior of the restaurant draws inspiration from Italy in the 50’s and 60’s. The mod design concept permeates every detail, from brightly colored doors and mid-century modern wallpaper to the pink banquette and brass finishes. The 4,600-square-foot space seats 100 and offers casual dining, as well as grab-and-go options – perfect for family dinners.   

Designed to evoke the feeling of home, a large, open kitchen is at the heart of Caffetteria, drawing guests into the space and the food preparation process. Functional needs were addressed with beautiful detail. Wrap-shelving, custom fabricated from brass and glass,  provides additional storage. Ceramic tile playfully spells out the restaurant name on the pizza oven.

At the entry, diners are greeted by a large counter with space to order, ready-to-go meals and an enticing pastry display. A variety of seating options are offered to accommodate patrons that are staying for a meal, popping in for a coffee or picking up a meal to go. The back of the restaurant provides access to patio seating and houses a private dining area, which seats 12 and features custom pivoting panel doors.

Located in the former home of Bruce Smith Drugs in The Shops of Prairie Village, the restaurant opened on March 14th to rave reviews – Feast Magazine called it “unbelievably stylish.”

Creating a new hospitality concept from start to finish takes a team of creative partners.  Fire Engine Design Studio designed the logo, while DMH managed the restaurant’s paid media, social and grand opening strategy and design. JCB Projects provided restaurant consulting on the endeavor. Together, we were able to bring Jo Marie’s vision to life and create a unified look for this fresh concept both in and out of the restaurant.

Professional photography by William Hess.

 


20 March, 2018 | Design, In Progress, Renovation, Workplace

New McCownGordon Construction headquarters will transform prominent corner in downtown Kansas City

McCownGordon Construction turned the first ceremonial shovel of dirt on the firm’s new downtown headquarters at 850 Main Street in downtown Kansas City this afternoon. Mayor Sly James, City Manager Troy Schulte and Kansas City Economic Development Council President, Bob Langenkamp joined McCownGordon leadership in expressing their enthusiasm for the project and its impact on downtown Kansas City.

The firm purchased the former Catholic Charities building at 850 Main in 2017 and has been working with Helix Architecture + Design, to design the new office space. Said Cherafat, “We are very intentional in how we grow and how we serve our clients and care for our associates and partners.  Our mission is to enhance the journey we are all on together so, as we outgrew our existing building, we looked for space that gave us much more room to grow, as well as a design that would embody our culture and our commitment to our Core Values of Integrity, Performance and Relationships. 850 Main and the design which Helix created for us does both.”

According to Gordon, the location, in the heart of downtown, was a primary factor in the firm’s decision to purchase 850 Main. “Since the beginning, McCownGordon has been committed to Kansas City. When it came time to find a larger home, there was no question that we would remain downtown.”  The firm moved to its current location of 422 Admiral Blvd in 2005, renovating the building, built in 1919, which housed Kansas City’s first Ford automobile dealership.

Erika Moody, principal for Helix, points to the design created for 850 Main as a truly transformational renovation. “When it is complete, this project will reinvigorate the corner of 9th and Main and be a prominent architectural addition along the streetcar line. The transparency of the design concept showcases an open, modern workplace while engaging those inside the building with the activities surrounding the structure.” The renovated building will include state-of-the-art amenities, including a comprehensive technology package, fitness center with yoga studio, expanded conference and collaboration spaces and a rooftop patio. “Our team worked closely with McCownGordon’s team to design a space that truly reflected their culture and their commitment to growth and opportunity,” added Moody.

(l to r) McCownGordon Construction’s chairman of the board, Brett Gordon and chief executive officer Ramin Cherafat speak to the crowd at the corner of 9th and Main in downtown Kansas City, MO to celebrate the company’s groundbreaking at 850 Main.


City manager, Troy Schulte, Jackson County Executive Frank White, McCownGordon chairman of the board Brett Gordon, Kansas City Mayor Sly James, McCownGordon chief executive officer Ramin Cherafat and Councilman Scott Taylor celebrated a groundbreaking for McCownGordon’s new corporate headquarters at 850 Main in downtown Kansas City, MO.


McCownGordon’s Chris Hampton operated a jackhammer to break ground on the firm’s renovation of 850 Main in downtown Kansas City, MO. When complete in early 2019, the building will house the growing construction management firm. Looking on (l to r) is City Manager Troy Schulte, KCEDC president Bob Langenkamp, McCownGordon chief executive Ramin Cherafat, Jackson County Executive Frank White and McCownGordon chairman of the board, Brett Gordon. Photos by Bob Greenspan.


Nancy Whitworth, vice president of strategic services for McCownGordon points to the many downtown amenities such as streetcar adjacency, a covered parking garage and proximity to the Power & Light District as an exciting component of the new office location.  “We strive to deliver the best building experience in all that we do,” said Whitworth. “That includes providing our associates with the best experience as members of our team. The location of 850 Main and its relationship to the excitement and growth of downtown Kansas City is an employee benefit that we are proud to deliver.”

The project is expected to take ten months to complete with the firm moving to the new location in early 2019.


5 Ways to Improve Workplace Health with the WELL Building Standard

With the start of a new year, it’s natural to focus on health and wellness. While many of us set goals for a balanced diet and working out, we often overlook improving a large component of our day – the workplace.

The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) was founded on the belief that improving the quality of a building can help people work, live and perform at their best. Studies, like one from the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) back up their assertions. It found that companies who earned high marks on its HERO Health and Well-Being Best Practices Scorecard, which was done in collaboration with Mercer©, outperformed the 500 largest U.S. companies on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index over a six-year period.

To improve health in work environments, IWBI released the WELL Building Standard in October of 2014. They cover seven, core concepts of health: air, nourishment, fitness, mind, water, light, comfort and innovation. Alissa Wehmueller, Principal at Helix Architecture + Design, saw how the program could benefit our clients and decided to pursue and ultimately, achieved her WELL AP designation.  

“We’ve been encouraging clients to implement many of these strategies for a while. However, this program goes a step further, providing measurable metrics, as well as a breadth of data, to support these ideas,” said Wehmueller.  

Like LEED, WELL’s tenets can be incorporated into spaces whether or not a company is pursuing full certification. The program covers 105 elements, or features, giving buildings and organizations a number of ways to make their work environment healthier.

“With so many initiatives to choose from, knowing where to start can be daunting. If you’re ready to make some changes, start by talking to your associates first. Find out the biggest concerns in the office, along with which ideas associates are most excited about and work to address those,” said Wehmueller.

WELL accounts for the entire workplace experience, covering everything from air quality to an employee’s physical comfort. Here, Wehmueller shares five strategies that can improve workplace health using the standard as a guide.

  1. Support mental health.

    There are number of ways that a well-designed office can improve an employee’s mental health from encouraging healthy sleep habits to providing connections and access to nature. Flexibility is another important element. Research has shown a connection between job satisfaction, as well as a group’s cohesiveness, to the presence of varied spaces that support different workstyles. The WELL Standard says work environments should offer spaces to work, focus, collaborate and rest. This means providing a combination of quiet zones, collaborative spaces and multi-functional workstations for team members.

  2. Reevaluate lighting.

    Effective lighting design, offering access to daylight for our bodies’ circadian rhythms, workstations positioned to reduce glare and daylight modeling are just a few of the thirteen ways the WELL Standard addresses light. Natural daylight and access to views of nature are critical components of supporting employees’ overall well-being and healthy sleep habits.

  3. Reduce distractions.

    Internal noise can lead to decreased productivity, particularly in open offices where distractions and interruptions are frequent. However, there are a large number of acoustic solutions and design practices companies can use to ensure each employee has a comfortable place to focus. Impact reducing flooring, sound barriers, sound masking and sound reducing surfaces can help companies enhance their teams’ performance and ability to focus.  

  4. Foster healthy nutrition.

    Eating habits are often influenced and reinforced through cues in our environment. Currently, only 8 percent of people consume the recommended four servings of fruit per day, and 6 percent consume the recommended five servings of vegetables per day. Providing access to healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables and communal cooking areas can foster healthier decision making. WELL also suggests the reconfiguration of dining environments to increase the appeal and visibility of nutritious foods. Providing convenient bottle refilling stations with filtered water and signage to encourage drinking water reminds associates to stay hydrated.

  5. Start moving.

    Encourage employees to take the stairs by making stairwells open and accessible. Another method to incentivize movement is to add physical activity spaces or make changes to the building’s exterior, such as designing cyclist and pedestrian-friendly environments. Organizations can also supplement gym memberships and fitness programs to encourage an active lifestyle outside the office.

Organizations with healthier employees can not only increase productivity and retention, but also reduce health insurance costs for individuals, as well as their businesses. With a variety of elements to choose from, there are multiple ways to reap the benefits of the WELL Standard. Discover which features are the best fit for your organization by contacting us at info@helixkc.com to schedule a space evaluation.


16 January, 2018 | Design, New Construction, Workplace

Local Entrepreneurs Build Lasting Relationships and New Headquarters through HEMP Connection

When Duey Williams joined the Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program (HEMP) over 15 years ago, he was new to Kansas City and working to make the business he had just purchased, Skyline E3, a success. It was in this organization he met Jay Tomlinson, founding principal of Helix Architecture + Design. The three-year program, which offers mentoring and connections with fellow entrepreneurs, is known for helping set the foundation for lasting relationships.  

Williams credits long-term relationships, like those made through HEMP, for Skyline’s success. In fact, he said support from entrepreneurs helped the organization grow during those difficult years.

“HEMP is not a soliciting organization. However, entrepreneurs in the program support one another. People want to do business with people they know and trust, and HEMPers recommended my work outside of their own organizations. These connections were an important contributor to Skyline’s growth.”

Skyline E3’s revenue is now seven times what it was when Williams purchased the business in 2000. With their expanding size and market reach, they needed a physical space that could better accommodate their personnel and client growth, while showcasing their products and company values. When it came to finding an architect that could bring his vision to life, Williams looked to his HEMP connections. Skyline E3 hired Helix Architecture + Design to create a new, 53,000-square-foot headquarters that would provide a state-of-the-art showroom for clients and a modern workplace for employees.

“I like to do business with people I know and always wanted to work with Jay,” said Williams.  

In the design of their new headquarters, Skyline wanted to invigorate company culture, create a sales area for clients and have room for growth. Helix worked closely with the company’s leadership to define their goals and unique amenities they wanted to incorporate for clients and staff. An impressive entrance and lobby, community space and conference rooms which operated as show rooms were key aspects of their vision.

The showroom and office space within their new headquarters provides an open and relaxed sales environment for clients with ample room for the company’s large display options. The open office environment offers flexibility and encourages collaboration among Skyline E3’s growing team. Bright pops of color, branded graphics and a conference table that converts into a ping pong table convey the energy and values of the company. The warehouse storage that comprises half of their building provides ample room for growth as the company continues to expand.

Key spaces were designed to accommodate the company’s desire to expand client and community outreach. The prep and staging area allows Skyline to showcase work to clients visiting their facility. A seminar room is used for team meetings and is also available to other area businesses.

“It’s important to our company to support entrepreneurs. We offer seminars at our new headquarters that are designed to help businesses improve their ROI at tradeshows. It’s one of the ways we give back to the community for its continued support. Having a newly designed facility helps make these initiatives possible,” said Williams.

Continuing to foster local entrepreneurs has been important to both Williams and Tomlinson throughout their careers. Since graduating from the HEMP class of 2001, Tomlinson has remained active in the organization and currently serves as a HEMP fellow.

“HEMP is a key component of Kansas City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Tomlinson. “The program offers an objective sounding board for firm leaders that is invaluable.”  

If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner interested in learning more about how you can benefit from the program, visit the HEMP KC website.

Photography by Bob Greenspan and event photos courtesy of Skyline E3


18 December, 2017 | Awards, Design, Recognition

Helix & UMKC Announce 2017 Bud Prize Competition Winner

Bud Prize finalists, left to right: Lauren Uhls, Tania Chavez and Rachel Baier.

Each Fall, Helix Architecture + Design teams up with the UMKC Department of Architecture, Urban Planning & Design 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, in honor of the eclipse, ten second-year students were challenged to design a new (fictional) building for the UMKC Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, complete with a planetarium and an observatory. Students developed drawings and models for their design concept, which they presented to the jury for feedback last Thursday afternoon.

Helix principal Doug Stockman served on the jury this year, alongside:

Joy Swallow – UMKC AUP+D, Chair
David Oliver – UMKC AUP+D Advisory Board
Aaron Schump – KSU Dept. of Architecture, Professor
Mark Brodwin – UMKC Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Astronomy Professor
Derek Moore – SOM, KCI Airport Team

There were so many exceptional projects that the jury decided to share First Prize between Tania Chavez and Lauren Uhls, and awarded Honorable Mention to Rachel Baier.

Each year the student presentations and celebration reception are open to the public so follow AUPD on Facebook for updates on future competitions.


6 December, 2017 | Design, New Construction, Workplace

Building Culture & Value Through Cohesive Real Estate Design

Olsson Associates

When Helix principal Erika Moody started working with Olsson Associates (Olsson) five years ago, the growing company was on track to reach a new milestone – 1,000 employees. With continued growth anticipated, they wanted to create a workplace environment that reinforced their culture in a cohesive manner as they charted their course forward.

Today, Olsson has more than exceeded those expectations. With offices across the Midwest and Southwest, they are continuing to expand their team and diversify their engineering services. Throughout this expansion, Erika has been a strategic partner to the firm overseeing the design of each of their offices.

The first project completed was the design of Olsson’s headquarters in Lincoln, Nebraska’s historic Haymarket District. The new 80,000-square-feet office building wraps around a central courtyard that provides daylight and views throughout the building, creating layers of interest both inside and out. The scope of work included programming, core and shell design, as well as interior architecture, furniture selection/procurement and custom furniture design.

Since that time, Helix has partnered with Olsson on the design of fourteen additional office projects. The goal has been to showcase their brand and the unique identity of each office, while standardizing workstations, meeting places and gathering spaces. Olsson CEO Brad Strittmatter shared, “We return to Helix because they really understand how to create great spaces where our employees thrive. They keep our offices on the forefront of our industry – while diligently maintaining our project budget.”

Olsson Associates

In each new office, there are a few commonalities. To make the greeting consistent from place to place, visitors encounter a simplified reception. The green from the Olsson logo is always incorporated in a small, but prominent way, and workstations have been streamlined throughout. As locations are updated, break rooms are also being transformed into inviting cafés.

To make these additions more seamless, the Helix team created a process for procuring furniture, implemented furniture and finish packages and aligned Olsson with vendors who can supply products to multiple offices. These practices have helped Olsson buy items at a discounted rate through corporate contracts, as opposed to purchasing pieces one-off at a premium.

Although Olsson was looking for a unified identity, they continue to value the uniqueness of each office. Furniture and finish packages provide a range of choices to office leaders, and each location includes personalized elements, like a feature wall and custom artwork. These details allow local leadership to personalize their space without sacrificing efficiency.

While standards are in place, the design team continues to bring forward new ideas and test concepts, like taller work tables or customized storage for large drawings, at a single location. This allows both parties to see how items perform on a smaller scale before rolling it out to each of their offices.

Establishing an internal representative and single design firm to lead every project has resulted in time and cost savings for Olsson. Designers can quickly supply critical items, like floor plans and finish schedules, while Olsson’s representative ensures projects are aligned with the budget and design standards. With less time spent managing each effort and ensuring an exceptional design for their spaces, Olsson Associates can focus on what matters most – providing great design experiences for their clients.

Photography by Michael Robinson.


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