Browsing Helix People

9 October, 2017 | Awards, Helix People, Leadership

Q&A with Erika Moody, IIDA Mid-America’s Vision Award Winner + 2017 Class of KCBJ Women Who Mean Business

In addition to recently being selected for the Kansas City Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business 2017 class, Helix principal Erika Moody was honored with the Vision Award at Thursday night’s International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Mid America ELEVATE Awards. The Vision Award is the highest award given to an individual who exemplifies notable qualities in leadership, design, and mentorship.

As a principal and owner at Helix, Erika leads the firm’s corporate workplace practice, which includes top Kansas City employers such as Cerner, DEG, Blue KC, McCownGordon Construction, and Olsson Associates. In addition to her role within the workplace practice, she oversees key aspects of practice management, including strategic direction and planning as well as attracting top talent to the firm.

As an active member of Kansas City’s civic and philanthropic community, Erika’s leadership extends beyond the firm. She is a 2009 graduate of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Centurions Leadership Program and served as the president of the Kansas City chapter of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). Having a strong belief in supporting the education of designers and architects, Erika has served on the Board of Interior Design at the University of Arkansas and on the Board of Interior Architecture at Kansas State University, her alma mater. She has also served three consecutive terms of the Board of Directors for Synergy Services, an organization she was introduced to while working on their Synergy House and Youth Resiliency Center.

We asked Erika to share a bit more on her role as a leader in our firm, the design industry and throughout the Kansas City community:

Goal as a firm leader

“I don’t just want Helix to be a great place to work, I want it to be the best place to work. It’s been a priority of mine to create an environment for our team members, both women and men, that offers flexibility for different stages of life. Our industry loses a lot of talent because we haven’t historically made it easy for people to juggle work and family. I want to provide a framework for all of our team members to feel successful, valued and proud of their role at work and at home. At Helix we’ve made it a priority to tailor roles to each team member’s individual needs. We’re lucky that our size and tight-knit management team allows us to do that.”

 

Biggest career accomplishment to date

“Starting Blackbird Design Studio was one of the most challenging but rewarding experiences of my career. I left the security of an established firm where I was a principal to create a successful venture that tripled in size over three years. While growing Blackbird, we completed notable projects, like Corrigan Station, Synergy Services Children’s Center and Olsson Associate’s corporate headquarters. Our quality work helped us draw the admiration and attention of a firm with whom we ultimately merged with, Helix Architecture + Design. Building Blackbird not only shaped the course of my career, but also taught me a lot about how businesses work. Starting a business from the ground-up is no easy feat, but one of which I’m incredibly proud.”

 

Community organization she’s passionate about

“Approximately eight years ago, I began working with Synergy Services. This incredible non-profit organization helps victims of family violence find the safety, support, strength and skills needed to change their lives. In our first project for Synergy House and the Youth Resiliency Center, we were able to double bed capacity and improve an existing facility, bringing it up to a new standard. I developed such a deep connection with the organization that I joined the board after our first project completed and have remained involved with Synergy ever since. We had the opportunity to work with them again on the newly completed Children’s Center, which included the renovation of a 100-year-old farmhouse and addition of a new building. The project allowed them to expand their programming and double the number of children they can serve.”

 

Championing women

“As an owner with Helix, I have been a champion for diversity and am extremely proud that our firm currently has a balance of seventeen women to thirteen men. In an industry where many women leave once they’ve had children we have created an environment that offers flexibility and mentorship to help them create a path that allows them to balance work and family commitments.”


“Also, as president of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), I helped to bolster our mentorship program, building networks among members. In the past, more experienced professionals phased out of the organization, leaving those who were just beginning their careers to make up the majority of the group. To mitigate this, we created a “principal roundtable” event and developed a new mentorship program. In fact, I am currently mentoring two, female designers from IIDA this year.”

You can read more about Erika’s “advice to her younger self” and the “philosophy she lives” by in this feature article from the Kansas City Business Journal.

Congratulations, Erika!  


14 September, 2017 | Helix People, Recognition

Ellen Hailey, AIA

Ellen Hailey
We are excited to announce Ellen Hailey is officially a licensed architect. She has passed all seven of the Architectural Registration Exams (ARE), logged the required Intern Development Program (IDP) hours, and can now formally call herself an architect.

A New Orleans native, Ellen graduated from Tulane in 2012 and joined Helix in 2017. Over the last year, she has been working with clients, such as BicMedia, DEG and Copaken Brooks. We asked Ellen to share her secrets to success and how she plans to celebrate.

Q: Any weird study habits?

A: Keeping my headphones in with no music playing. I was reading a lot of dense material, so I couldn’t always listen to music, but having the headphones in seemed to help me focus.

 

Q: While taking the exams, did you find you have a favorite subject matter?

A: I actually found the vignettes to be sort of fun. This is the drawing section of the exam, using the NCARB software. Each ARE has at least one. Some as many as three. You get a problem to solve (like designing a stair and ramp or laying out a building) with a limited time to draw your solution to satisfy code and ADA standards. I enjoyed the problem solving aspects, and there is usually little time left to overthink your solution!

 

Q: Any favorite pump up music or playlists?

A: I found this song My Only Swerving by El Ten Eleven in Spotify’s Focus playlists section. I think I listened to it a million times..

 

Q: What do you plan on doing with all your extra free time now that you aren’t studying for your exams?

A: Enjoying my weekends a lot more!

 

Q: What was your first thought after finding out you passed your last exam?

A:  Total relief! I took my last four in about six months, so I was constantly studying. After I passed the final one, it was weird to realize I didn’t need to jump to the next and could just relax.

 

Q: How did you celebrate?

A: I went out to see a band called We Are The Mummies at Knuckleheads. They are a funk band that performs completely dressed as mummies. It was a strange and good ending to a stressful month.

 

Q: Any words of encouragement for other architects who are currently studying for and/or taking their AREs?

A:  Always sign up for another one! I had trouble making time to study unless I had set a test date. I tried to sign up for my next exam right after I finished one – even before I knew if I had passed. I still gave myself some time between to relax, but wanted to push myself to keep moving forward.

 

Congratulations, Ellen! We are so proud.


28 June, 2017 | Helix People, Recognition

Congratulations to newly certified interior designer, Kate Phillips!

We’re proud to announce our newest certified interior designer: Kate Phillips! Kate joined Helix in 2016 and has since worked with clients such as Academy for Integrated Arts, DEG and The University of Kansas Medical Center. When she’s not improving workplaces around Kansas City, she’s busy planning the next big office party. 

NCIDQ Certification is the highest level of certification in the interior design profession. The exam is taken in three sections, all of which candidates must pass to become certified.  We thought we’d take this opportunity to hear about Kate’s secret to success:

Q: When studying for your exams, what rituals did you have? Any pump-up music or favorite snacks?
A: During the summer I enjoyed “multi-tasking” by laying out at the pool while reading through my textbook. However, studying for the Practicum in the winter was far less exciting. My dining table disappeared under piles of trace paper, post-its, and practice tests. I also listened to a lot of alt-J and The Japanese House in those months.

Q: Did you find a particular favorite subject matter?
A: I really enjoy puzzling together a space plan.

Q: Now that you’ve passed exams, how do you plan on celebrating?
A: A bottle of Veuve and a nap.

Q: What advice would you give any designers out there studying for their certification?
A: Practice tests are key! You not only have to learn and memorize the material, but I found it was just as important to know how the test was formatted. Also, make a study schedule and routine that works for you and stick with it.

From your Helix family — Congratulations, Kate! We’re celebrating with you on achieving this incredible accomplishment.


Helix Principal Takes Home Top Honor with IIDA

Alissa Wehmueller, Principal, was presented with the International Interior Design Association’s (IIDA) 2017 Member of the Year award at their Annual Meeting in Chicago on Sunday evening.

This award is given to an IIDA member whose commitment to the industry is visibly demonstrated through extensive volunteer efforts and dedication to the organization’s mission of advancing interior design and advocating for its excellence. The recipient receives $7,500, as well as a complimentary 2018 IIDA membership.

Alissa has served in various leadership roles within the IIDA Mid America Chapter, including Chapter president. She was also instrumental in helping the Chapter win two Chapter of the Year awards. Under her guidance, the Chapter has added mentoring opportunities, provided preparation for interior design licensing exams and advocated for statewide registration of the interior design profession.

“Every IIDA chapter needs and wants an Alissa Wehmueller. She celebrates accomplishments and then, asks what’s next. The Mid America Chapter has clearly benefited from her vision and ability to share it well.” said Erika Moody, Principal, Helix Architecture + Design.

Alissa’s work with Helix includes (top left going clockwise) the Boulevard Tours & Recreation Center, Blue Cross Blue Shield KC headquarters, Olson Performing Arts Center at UMKC and Service Management Group’s headquarters.


In addition to her service with IIDA, Alissa was also selected for this honor, because of her commitment to uniting the Kansas City design community. She co-chaired Kansas City Design Week  on behalf of IIDA from 2013-2015 and collaborated on the creation of the Center for Architecture and Design, which brings together design professionals across the city.

“My involvement with IIDA has truly been one of the most impactful things I’ve done in my career. The skills I’ve learned, the resources I’ve found, initiatives I’ve been able to see through and the relationships I’ve made in Kansas City, as well as within the national design community, are invaluable,” said Alissa.

Watch the IIDA 2017 Annual Meeting in which Alissa was awarded (1:20:00 mark):

Congratulations Alissa! We’re proud to work alongside you and look forward to what’s yet to come.


1 June, 2017 | Culture, Helix People, Recognition

Helix Employees Celebrate 5 Years with the Firm

We’re pleased to share three Helix employees are celebrating their five-year anniversary with the firm. In that group, you’ll find our resource librarian, Marcie Miller Gross; interior designer, Erin Stork; and our office concierge, Nina Grimes.

To thank them for their service and mark the milestone, they received a $1,000 voucher to be used for travel of their choice. These are given to team members for every five years of service. We capped off the festivities with a new tradition –  a celebratory lunch.

Thank you to Marcie, Erin and Nina, for your contributions, dedication and friendship. Helix greatly benefits from the gifts and talents each of you bring.


9 May, 2017 | Helix People, Leadership, Press

Helix Adds New Talent to the Executive Team

Several years ago, the Helix executive team met to discuss what was next for the firm. They discussed a wide range of options, floating new ideas by one another. Then, big things started to happen.

The first step was announced in August of last year. We merged with the talented designers and architects at Blackbird Design Studio. We knew we were on the right track when we were named AIA Kansas City’s Firm of the Year in December. Now, we’re continuing that growth by adding a respected, local architect as a new partner.

STOCKMAN_Doug04

We’re pleased to announce Doug Stockman, a former founding principal of El Dorado, Inc., will be joining Helix. Doug brings over 23 years of design experience to the firm. Over the course of his career, he’s accumulated an expansive portfolio with work not only in Kansas City, but also throughout the Midwest.

I wanted to be part of a group comprised of thought provoking leaders and designers focused on elevating the human experience through architecture. I have known the leaders of Helix for many years and have the greatest respect for their work within the community. The decision to join Helix was easy,” said Doug Stockman, Principal, Helix.

His background and extensive portfolio complement ours. Doug has been recognized nationally by the American Institute of Architects for his design of the Girls Scouts’ Camp Prairie Schooner Trail Center. In the last decade, his work has primarily focused on mixed-use projects within the urban context. Most of which are multi-family apartments with retail and workplace as a component of the overall project. Ongoing projects nearing completion include new fabrication labs at Kansas State University’s College of Architecture, Planning and Design, as well as a new modular apartment building at 3435 Main Street in Kansas City, Missouri.

Active in the community, Doug has served on a variety of boards and committees: the Kansas City Free Health Clinic, Christmas in October, the MS Society, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Girl Scouts of Northeast Kansas & Northwest Missouri. Since 1999, he has also served in numerous capacities for the Kansas City Downtown Council (DTC). He currently sits on the DTC’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors as Chairman and the Dean’s Advisory Council at Kansas State University’s College of Architecture, Planning & Design. He is also a board member of Planet Play.


9 February, 2017 | Culture, Helix People

Celebrating 25 years: A Love Letter to Kansas City

Helix 25h Anniversary PartyThank you, Kansas City.

Twenty-five years ago we were a bunch of young buck architects that optimistically saw opportunity where there were dilapidated buildings and empty parking lots. We took a risk, left our jobs and struck out on our own. We opened up shop at 9th + Baltimore, moved to 10th + Broadway and eventually landed at 16th + Walnut – where we are today. We hoped that there were others that shared our passion for revitalizing our city. At least enough to help keep our lights on.

You have delivered.

What you have become, what we have been able to be a part of over these last 25 years is inspiring.

When we talk about our city’s entrepreneurial story, this is it. It’s not all fast-growth tech startups (although they are terrific). It is small businesses coming together each day to support one another. It is the support of extraordinary clients and committed partners. And it is an ecosystem of programs (like HEMP) that nurture the passion to build something great and provide the framework for success.

Thanks to you we have been a part of something meaningful. Great work. Our life’s work. We have been able to restore some of the city’s greatest architectural treasures and add new life to the streetscapes we walk each day.

Your investment, your commitment makes our work possible. Because of you, we get to spend our days doing what we love. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all are striving for?

And while one can’t help but reflect when crossing any major milestone, our attention is focused on the next 25 years. Not only what is next for our firm, but also our industry and most importantly, for you – our city. How do we steer Kansas City’s growth in the right direction and create spaces that we will be proud of 25 years from now? How do we create places that will attract talent so that we can continue to grow as a city?

These are the questions that drive us and our work each day.

As we look towards the next 25 years, we remain committed to the principles and passion we were founded on – advancing our community through great design and civic engagement, maintaining exceptional quality in all that we do, supporting the arts, preserving our historic structures, and most of all placing the human experience at the center of everything we do.

We look around at the young talent that fills our office, the new energy they bring and fresh perspective on what this city can continue to become. They bring dreams and ideas beyond what we could have imagined 25 years ago. They challenge us. They inspire us. And we are proud to work side by side with them to design and dream and build our city for the next 25 years.

So thank you, Kansas City. We are proud to be part of your story and hope you are proud to be part of ours.

Fondly,
Helix


2 December, 2016 | Helix People, Leadership

Announcing Helix Promotions

Helix is pleased to announce Evan Fox, AIA has been elevated to principal status and Miranda Groth, AIA has been named an associate.

Miranda Groth, Evan Fox

Miranda Groth is a project manager and market leader for Helix Architecture + Design’s higher education practice. Throughout her career she has developed a specialized focus on academic facilities and is recognized for her ability to deliver complex projects on schedule and within budget. Since joining Helix in 2013, she has managed nearly 150,000 square feet of projects for Kansas City University, including the complex adaptive reuse of Weaver Auditorium into the new KCU Academic Center.  Most recently Miranda is managing the renovation of Hill Hall at Missouri State University and just completed the adaptive reuse of a 1950’s Bowling alley into a new home for the Academy for Integrated Arts charter school.

Evan Fox is a project manager and senior project architect with over 12 years of experience. His ability to guide high-profile projects, such as AMC’s Theatre Support Center and the Corrigan Building Renovation, from inception to completion makes him an incredible asset to the firm and our clients. Evan is known for  his well-rounded  capabilities with design detailing, consultant coordination, construction management and technical programs. Prior to moving to Kansas City he worked in Chicago on corporate headquarters and high-rise residential projects. Evan is also a leader in the local design community and an active AIA member — serving as AIA KC Design Awards Co-Chair and the AIA KC Pillars Steering Committee Chair.

blvd_evan_miranda

The Helix leadership team at our semi-annual company meeting, held at the Boulevard Visitor’s Center.

We asked Miranda & Evan a few questions to help you get to know these two key leaders a bit more.

Q: What made you choose a career in architecture? 

E: I have always loved building things. Even more so, I like the process of figuring out how you start from scratch with an idea and turn it into a building. Because building stuff is cool, but telling people how to build stuff is even cooler.

M: The influence of a grade school art teacher who noticed that I always wanted to draw rooms and buildings instead of objects or people. Her willingness to share books on the works of Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan made me consider architecture a possibility.

Q: What’s your design philosophy? 

E: Work with good designers.

M: No fuss. I prefer everything has a purpose and a place.

Q: What brought you to Helix? 

E: The people. You have to care about what you do and who you work with. Otherwise, why do it?

M: Helix provides me the opportunity to share and develop my passions – restoration of old and historic buildings, Kansas City community involvement and desire to make a positive impact on the places people learn, work and live.

Q: Do you have any hobbies? 

E: My hobbies include BBQ smoking, playing golf and raising a pretty awesome kiddo.

M: My husband and I have made restoring our 90-year-old house our hobby. When we’re not slinging hammers or plastering, I enjoy baking, gardening, crafting and most any other “old lady” hobby as my profile suggests!

Q: What’s a guilty pleasure of yours?

E: Listening to too much Journey, Chicago, REO Speedwagon, STYX, Boston, Foreigner, etc.

M: My celebrity crush is Jeff Goldblum!


We are beyond thrilled to have these two exceptional professionals as a part of the Helix leadership team, and we congratulate both of you on your many accomplishments. Cheers to Miranda and Evan!


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.


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