Browsing Design

3 August, 2016 | Design, Helix People

Helix Architecture + Design and Blackbird Design Studio Announce Merger

Newly integrated firm will offer expanded resources, combined leadership and award-winning design talent

Kansas City is experiencing unprecedented real estate development right now, a golden era of investment in our community. Helix Architecture + Design and Blackbird Design Studio recognized an opportunity to strengthen their position in the marketplace by joining forces. The merger will offer clients access to combined leadership, expanded resources and unrivaled design talent.

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“The pace of change within our industry is rapidly accelerating,” said Reeves Wiedeman, founding principal of Helix Architecture + Design. “New firms bring fresh ideas and different approaches to the way we have always done things; established firms bring a depth of knowledge, experience and stability. We see other firms locally and nationally following one of these two paths. In merging Helix and Blackbird we are bringing together the best of both worlds – stability, mentorship, extraordinary talent, a nimble approach to change and the ability to truly lead the industry into its next era.”

The impact of Helix and Blackbird’s work is present throughout Kansas City’s streetscape, boardrooms and academic halls. Their portfolio of work spans venues for the arts and local restaurant concepts to new civic buildings and some of the largest corporate headquarters in the city. While both firms maintain diverse practices, each brings complementary expertise to the merger.

“We started Blackbird Design Studio to chart our own course, elevate design and elevate our city. Over the last three years we have continuously had the opportunity to do that,” said Erika Moody, founding principal with Blackbird Design Studio. “This merger allows us to continue what we started on a larger scale; it allows us to be stronger, better, faster with a team and network in place that will help us continue to propel our city, and our region, forward.”

people3The Helix + Blackbird team

So how did two firms go from mutual admiration to marriage?

The relationship between Helix and Blackbird started as a partnership to land a new client both firms were pursuing. When a trusted industry partner, who knows both firms well, asked firm leaders if they had considered making this partnership permanent it set the wheels in motion. The two firms had complementary areas of expertise, culturally similar studio environments and a shared vision for the quality of work they wanted to create. With large projects on the horizon, they were eager to begin working together. Things moved quickly from there.

For nearly 25 years Helix Architecture + Design has operated in downtown Kansas City. Long known for their experience renovating some of the city’s most notable landmarks, Helix has become a go-to firm for building owners and developers investing in the urban core. The firm’s civic engagement and advocacy for investing in the arts and education has also resulted in a substantial portfolio of work for the city’s top academic and cultural institutions. They are currently leading some of the most significant projects in downtown Kansas City, including the renovation of Traders Towers into a “smart” apartment building, the new Crossroads Westside development, the transformation of the historic Pickwick Plaza hotel and bus depot into a new mixed-use development, the ongoing transformation of Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences’ campus in the historic Northeast, the recently completed Boulevard Brewing Co. Visitor Center and the University of Missouri – Kansas City’s proposed Conservatory of Music and Dance in the Crossroads Arts District.

Helix_ProjectsStarting top left, going clockwise: KCU Academic Center, Boulevard Brewing Co. Visitor’s Center, KCPD Headquarters, Traders Tower, University of Kansas Medical Center – Health Education Building, UMKC Downtown Conservatory of Music & Dance.

When Moody and co-founder Trevor Hoiland started Blackbird, they brought with them an extensive portfolio of corporate office projects. During their time as principals with 360 Architecture they led the design of the H&R Block’s world headquarters, AMC’s new Theatre Support Center and the renovation and expansion of Black & Veatch’s world headquarters. Since founding Blackbird they have built upon this expertise to grow their portfolio of corporate office projects throughout the region while expanding to other markets. Current and recently completed projects include Olsson Associates corporate headquarters and multiple regional offices, the renovation of the Creamery Building into flexible office suites for small to mid-sized companies, Synergy Services Children’s Campus, an award-winning office and showroom for furniture manufacturer HighTower, the headquarters for rapidly growing tech company Valorem Consulting and Corrigan Station, a mixed-use development that includes the renovation of the historic Corrigan Building and adjacent new construction that will house office and retail space.

Blkbrd_ProjectsStarting top left, going clockwise: HighTower Furniture, Shepherd Residence, Olsson Associates headquarters, Corrigan Station, Synergy Services Children’s Center.

As Helix and Blackbird merge operations, these niches fit together well, each expanding upon the experience and expertise of the other. Culturally the two firms were a natural fit as well. Within both design shops, passion and humor go hand in hand.

“We love what we do; we take our work seriously but not ourselves,” said Hoiland. “We recognize that our clients are trusting us with a significant investment; they are letting us help shape not only their physical environment but their culture, their vision and their brand. We want the end result to be special but also make the process enjoyable along the way.”

Both firms also share a similar philosophy that leadership within the community is a key component of their business. Each of the firm’s principals and many of their staff invest significant time on behalf of civic and non-profit organizations.

“We believe that investing in the arts, education and a strong urban core is central to the vibrancy of our city,” said Jay Tomlinson, founding principal of Helix Architecture + Design. “Design is a key component of our commitment but equally important is our engagement in the broader issues that are impacting our community.”

The firm will consolidate operations into Helix’s existing headquarters in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District. Existing Helix leadership comprised of Wiedeman, Tomlinson, Michael Heule, Bryan Gross, Kristine Sutherlin and Alissa Wehmueller will expand to include Blackbird principals, Moody, Hoiland and Evan Fox. The firm will continue to operate under the Helix Architecture + Design name but launched a new brand identity in tandem with the merger.


Helix’s Erin Stork wins MADA ELEV^TE Award

Every other year the IIDA Mid America Chapter honors design professionals that are leading the way in the region at their MADA ELEV^TE awards. We are incredibly proud that Helix’s own, Erin Stork was honored with the Aloft Award, which recognizes an emerging designer who has shown a fresh, artistic and thoughtful approach to interior design.

Erin Stork, 2016 MADA Elevate Award Winner

Anyone that has met, Erin knows the passion she exudes for design, but those of us who work alongside her get to see how that passion is applied to elevating how people experience the spaces around them. It is evident that for her, everything is about people. Not just how a space looks, but how it makes a person feel. She puts herself in the shoes of the user and completely immerses herself in the experience of each space.

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Erin’s ability to communicate spans multiple mediums. She is adept at the latest technology but always fleshes ideas out by pen and marker first, creating extraordinary hand sketches that resonate with clients and help them understand how the vision translates through to each detail.  Her enthusiasm is contagious to clients and coworkers alike.

Erin Stork Sketches

As Helix principal, Jay Tomlinson shared, “Erin has an incredible eye. It is one of those innate traits in great designers that cannot be taught or trained – you either have it, or you don’t. Erin has it. She sees the world through a lens of beauty that is both refined and raw and has the unique ability to translate that in a way that brings others along for the ride. As she continues to grow as a designer she consistently applies her skills and passion in new ways. I am excited to watch her continue to grow into one of our city’s most brilliant designers.”

2016 MADA Elevate Awards

Erin is also committed to elevating the design community as a whole, which is reflected in her extensive involvement with IIDA. In her current role as the Communications Chair for the City Center Board, she has led graphic design and marketing for the organization’s recurring events, helping to create new identities that will make it easier to promote them from year-to-year.

KCU Admin Building | Helix Architecture + Design | JE Dunn | Henderson Engineers

Even prior to joining the board Erin was an active volunteer and committee member for some of IIDA’s largest events, including Color + Couture, the annual 5K, and Portfolio + Professionals.  Erin also donated her time and design talent to assist local non-profit Live KC with the transformation of Barney Allis Plaza into “The Backyard” a hub of outdoor activity in the heart of downtown Kansas City.

Erin believes in the power of design to improve people’s lives and is a passionate advocate for the role it can play in elevating every aspect of our daily experiences. She brings this enthusiasm to her clients, our community and to our office each day. We are unbelievably lucky to have her as part of the Helix team.

Congratulations, Erin! This honor is well deserved.


5 April, 2016 | Design, Helix People

Kansas City Design Week 2016 | April 7 – 16

Thursday kicks off Kansas City Design Week 2016! Get ready to experience everything from the Design Olympics to lectures on creative failure. We got the inside scoop from Helix’s own Sam Loring, AIA, who is co-chair of the event for the second year in a row.

Sam Loring, Co-Chair of KC Design Week

“Design Week is about celebrating all things design in Kansas City. It showcases our incredible local design talent, allows designers in different professions to meet each other and experience various design viewpoints – all in a fun, festive atmosphere!”

The week is centered on the convergence of ideas, information-sharing and inspiration from designers from across the architecture, graphic design and interior design industries. 

“There are several events that are specifically for architects. One is a working session on the 3-D modeling software, Dynamo. This software could help revolutionize the way that architects design buildings,” Loring says. One of three co-chairs, he explains each one represents the three major local design organizations: AIA, AIGA and IIDA.

It’s clear to see the value of designers sharing ideas across industries, as processes, challenges and successes often follow similar patterns. As the website states, the week is a good way to keep up with “constantly changing perceptions, share ideas and coming together to make things beautiful and functional.” …Music to our ears.

Debbie Millman

One of the highlights of the week will be Thursday’s Debbie Millman On Rejection: How the worst moments of your life can turn out the be the best. She was named “one of the most influential designers working today” by Graphic Design USA. Millman is also an author, educator, brand strategist and host of the podcast Design Matters.

So what event (of the many) is Loring most excited about attending?

“I am excited about the Bread and Butter Concepts on Designing an Empire presentation. It will be fascinating to see how the entire branding and design process works for a restaurant. Every element from the way the menu is planned, to the interior space design, and how it all comes together to create one brand. I’m also excited to eat some Republica food!”

Join us at Helix on Friday night as we host one of many Open Studio Night open houses! We’ll be sharing a behind-the-scenes look at our design process for the Boulevard Visitor’s Center. Plus, what Boulevard party would be complete without yard games, beer and popcorn? You won’t want to miss it.

There are still tickets available for many events – so join in on the fun at kcdesignweek.org


8 December, 2015 | Design, Renovation, Workplace

What does it take to successfully renovate one of the largest office buildings in Kansas City?

We recently celebrated a monumental milestone — the rededication of the 1.2 million-square-foot Richard Bolling Federal Building in downtown Kansas City. Its complete modernization took four phases spanning 15 years, all while the building remained occupied.

Our work on the $280 million project, which was rededicated Nov. 6, drew praise from Jason Klumb, U.S. General Services Administration Regional Administrator for the Heartland Region. He wrote this in a letter to our design team:

“Helix Architecture + Design has given the American taxpayers and GSA a public space that we are very, very proud to serve in. Throughout the project, your leadership and coordination was paramount to the success of the renovation. … Your work ensured we received the most professional and appropriate design services, you were diligent in meeting deadlines, and you maintained sensitivity to the budget that respected the investment of taxpayers. … Your team made the process very smooth and was always there when we needed you. … It was a job well done, on budget, and ahead of schedule.”

The project, designed under the GSA’s Design Excellence Program, aimed to improve the workplace environment for the building’s 2,800 occupants while improving energy efficiency, upgrading security and abating environmental issues.

Constructed in 1962, the 18-story Bolling Building is an exceptional example of Mid-Century Modern architecture. As architects, there is an inherent thrill in working on a structure of this magnitude, but first and foremost this project was about people — thousands of people whose lives are impacted by this building every day, and whose work experience is enhanced by this renovation.

We created progressive, high-performance workplaces tailored to modern employees and to the culture of each organization that uses the building. Alternative office spaces — such as lounge areas, small team rooms, and conference rooms — accommodate a variety of work styles. We also made the space capable of adapting to continued growth.  And when designing shared spaces within the building — the café, the fitness center, conference rooms, the health clinic — we sought to provide opportunities for interaction across departments and agencies.

GSA’s leadership on this project also reflects its commitment to the environment. Since the renovation began, the building’s energy use has decreased by 40 percent. In addition, two green roofs and two underground cisterns can capture up to 110,000 gallons of rainwater to irrigate the two-city-block site. Phase 3 achieved LEED certification, and Phase 4 is slated to achieve LEED Silver certification.  

We had an incredible team of partners — GastingerWalker&, JE Dunn Construction and our engineering consultants — that were instrumental to successfully delivering such a complex project on budget and ahead of schedule.  We are proud to be part of such a monumental project and an exceptional team.

Photos credited to Michael Robinson Photography


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…

Baltimore Club2

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.

Helix Architecture + Design, Baltimore Club

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

Helix Architecture + Design, Baltimore Club

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.


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.

Helix_KCPDHQ_11514 1_LR

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.

Helix_KCPDHQ_ExtDet_0264_LR

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.

Helix_KCPDHQ_11446_LR

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.

Helix_KCPDHQ_11347_LR

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

 

 


16 July, 2015 | Design

Placemaking at Barney Allis Plaza

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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.


23 September, 2014 | Art, Awards, Design, New Construction

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 | Design

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

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