Browsing Historic Renovation

13 April, 2017 | Academic, Awards, Historic Renovation

Norrington Center at Park University wins Historic Kansas City Preservation Award

Since its founding in 1974, Historic Kansas City (HKC) has been the only greater Kansas City nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the area’s heritage, neighborhoods and historic built environment. Two weeks ago at their annual Preservation Awards ceremony, HKC celebrated the people – developers, building owners, architects and preservationists – that have demonstrated exceptional leadership in historic preservation across our city.

We are honored that our work on the renovation of Park University’s Norrington Center was among those honored for its preservation and reinvestment in the last remaining Carnegie Library on a college campus in the State of Missouri. The Norrington Center received an Excellence Award in the Contemporary Design in a Historic Context category, which is given to a project that displays innovative contemporary design in a historic context.

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The Carnegie Corporation of New York built 35 public and academic libraries in the state of Missouri between 1899 and 1917. Only one of the academic libraries is still remaining today and that is Norrington Hall on Park University’s campus. Built in 1908, Norrington Hall originally served as the campus library until those services were relocated in the 1980’s. At that time the interior was converted into office and classroom spaces. In 2015, Park University initiated a renovation to return the building to its original roots as a 21st century state-of-the-art library and academic commons.

Norrington Before & After

The majority of the historic character on the interior of the building had been removed during previous renovations but the Helix design team preserved those most defining of the building, including the grand open entry stairwell that connects the first and second floor, the stained glass window in the stairwell landing, ornamental guardrails, wood handrails, stone wall cladding and terrazzo floor finishes in the entry hall. The interior environment was transformed into modern academic and study spaces that will serve the university and make the building viable for years to come.

Norrington Beforehelix_norrigntonhall_1552_lr

The three-story steel and glass floor library stack spaces were inaccessible and unusable for today’s modern academic library. It was removed and the second floor was expanded to create a gallery space with access to restrooms while the first floor was converted into a coffee shop and study space. The design solution increased the functionality of the space while preserving the original windows that spanned the first two floors.

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In order to provide ADA accessibility without altering the historic front entry facade of the building, a new ADA accessible entry vestibule was designed on the rear of the building along with an open patio to create a welcoming secondary entry point along a primarily pedestrian circulation route between the historic Norrington Center and the campus’s historic and iconic administration building, Mackay Hall.

Park University’s investment ensures people will continue to experience the beauty and craftsmanship of this historic structure for years to come.

For those of you that love old buildings as much as we do, Historic Kansas City hosts events throughout the year. You can check them out, along with a full list of award winners on their website.


2 March, 2017 | Historic Renovation, Renovation

$65 million restoration of Historic Pickwick Plaza is nearing completion

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One of Kansas City’s earliest and largest mixed-use developments, Pickwick Plaza has a rich history as a downtown destination and transportation hub. Although the structure was substantially underutilized throughout the late 20th-century, its restoration to its former glory is nearing completion.

The large mixed-use complex, located at 9-10th & McGee streets, originally housed the Pickwick Hotel, an office building, a parking garage and one of the largest bus terminals west of the Mississippi. Designed in 1929 by Wight & Wight, the building is one of many prominent civic buildings designed by the Kansas City firm – including City Hall, the Jackson County Courthouse and the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.

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The mixed-use nature of the original building, including the hotel, office spaces, the bus terminal, retail — all within close proximity to the major governmental Kansas City buildings, anticipated a much greater future trend in mixed-use developments. The complex served business and government officials, locals and visitors, with many amenities all under one roof and a cohesive streetscape and exterior presence. In 1930, prominent radio stations KMBC and WHB relocated their operations into 11th floor penthouse addition atop the hotel building – broadcasting from that location until 1968.

The Pickwick Hotel was considered the place to stay when conducting business downtown or with government officials and was most notably known as a frequent retreat of Harry S. Truman during his early career with Jackson County government. His time in the hotel was largely spent writing what would later be known as the “Pickwick Papers” — a biographical mix of personal and political thoughts. The hotel remained operational throughout both World Wars and aided in Kansas City’s growth. During that period from the 30’s-50’s, the bus terminal saw nearly 5,000 bus departures per month.

Before_Shots_PickwickThe historic Pickwick Hotel lobby as it was in 1930, and the existing conditions at the beginning of our renovation & restoration process.

Many downtown buildings were torn down during the 1950-70’s, but luckily much of the exterior and primary interior spaces of Pickwick Plaza remained untouched. Following suburban flight and the national decline of downtown dwelling and public transportation in the 1960’s, the building was converted into subsidized housing in 1972. The 233 units were often under-occupied and eventually left empty until a fire took a toll on the building in 1996.

The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001 and ultimately purchased by Gold Crown Properties in 2013 with the intent of converting it into 260 market-rate apartments with amenities and rental rates that would attract young professionals.

Renderings_Pickwick

Helix partnered with Rosin Preservation to restore historic elements throughout the building. The lobby was restored to its original two-story height, allowing natural daylight to infiltrate the space. Large, historic windows maximize natural daylighting, reducing the need for artificial lighting in the units. To maintain consistency with the original character of the building and bring vibrancy to the surrounding area, Helix re-introduced street-side retail space, which has recently signed tenants such as UPS, a wine bar + restaurant and CityGym.

Construction on the redevelopment was completed in December on the north tower of East 9 at Pickwick Plaza apartments, which are currently available for lease. The new apartments feature a combination of traditional and unique amenities that are targeted towards downtown dwellers: a workout facility, a salt-water pool (located where the bus depot once was), garage parking, an office center, community room, on-grade retail, rooftop green space, high-efficiency appliances, washer/dryer hook-ups and walk-in closets. In line with the current “sharing economy” trend (think Uber and Airbnb), the City of Kansas City and developers have partnered with Zipcar — a national car-sharing company, allowing tenants to pay a monthly fee for usage of shared cars.

When it is completed this spring, the building will once again be an anchor development within the government district. We are proud to work alongside visionary developers like Gold Crown Properties to restore this historic landmark and continue to propel downtown Kansas City’s redevelopment.


15 December, 2016 | Historic Renovation, Renovation, Workplace

Corrigan Station Renovation Brings Historic Tie to the Kansas City Streetcar Full Circle

Today marks the long-awaited opening of the renovated Thomas Corrigan Building at 19th & Walnut. The project, which began in April 2015, is just the latest completed project in Helix’s longstanding experience restoring historic buildings in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District.

Historic Thomas Corrigan Building, Kansas CityPhotos of the historic Thos. Corrigan Building, taken in 1981 for the building’s National Register of Historic Places application.

The 10-story Thomas (Thos.) Corrigan Building, completed in 1921, was originally developed by the Corrigan family and designed by Keene & Simpson architects. The four brothers, often referred to as the “Corrigan boys,” came to Kansas City from Canada in the late 1800’s. The family, and especially Thomas, would play a major role in developing Kansas City’s street railway lines, first with mule-drawn cars in the 1870’s, and then later electrical cars in the 20th Century — creating the city’s first streetcar franchise, the Metropolitan Street Railway Company. The historic connection between Kansas City streetcars and Thomas Corrigan makes the KC Streetcar stop outside of the new Corrigan Station come full circle back to its namesake. The original building was reportedly built for Corrigan’s four daughters, and was managed by his grandson Colonel Thomas C. Bourke for many years.

From Left to Right: Initial mule-drawn carriages in Kansas City in 1870. 12th & Walnut, populated with streetcars in 1930. Thomas’ brother and partner in railway development, Bernard Corrigan.From Left to Right: Initial mule-drawn carriages in Kansas City in 1870. 12th & Walnut, populated with streetcars in 1930. Thomas’ brother and partner in railway development, Bernard Corrigan.

The building’s primary tenant from 1921-1931 was the Gateway Station Post Office — hence the choice of Corrigan Station for the development’s new name.

In the 1930’s and 40’s, the Donnelly Garment Company occupied the building. The brand was founded in 1919 by Nell Donnelly Reed (Nelly Don) and quickly became known for its ready-to-wear dresses that were as beautiful as they were functional. She was quoted by the New York Times stating a goal to “make women look pretty when they are doing the dishes.” The company would later become the largest manufacturer of women’s clothing worldwide in the 1950’s and one of the most famous companies in Kansas City.

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The factory operated out of Corrigan station during it’s prime production years.

corrigan_loom_renderingsAs the most notable tenant in the history of the Corrigan Building, the Nelly Don dress company occupied the building from 1927-1948. The brand was the inspiration for a large wooden wall installation in the main lobby. The installation, fabricated by Hinge Woodworks, is an abstract take on a loom, the device used to weave cloth. The ‘loom wall’ creates visual interest and imitates the appearance of thread being manipulated through the wooden fins. The piece is meant to appear as though you’ve caught a loom in action, with the ‘threads’ moving up from the floor to the ceiling.

By 1947, Nelly Don outgrew the building and was replaced by the Veteran’s Administration – who leased the entire 123,000 square foot building for over 10 years. At that time, Col. Bourke was still managing the property and made several updates the structure, developed site parking to the west and eventually sold in 1977. In 1981 the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places by it’s then owner, Alan J. Bronfman, president of Distributors, Inc.. From that time — on with very few short-term tenants — the commercial use of the building gradually declined until it was purchased in 2013 by co-developers Copaken Brooks and 3D Development.

19th-and-Main-Exterior_WEBcorrigan_renderingsThe renovation features 9-stories of office space and a 1-story of ground level retail space. The design team worked to preserve the historic character of the building in accordance with National Park Service preservation guidelines. We imagine the Corrigan family would be extremely proud to have their 100-year-old building restored — and with excellent connectivity to downtown Kansas City, via the new streetcar stop located within steps of the doors.

In addition to renovating the existing 123,000-square-foot structure, Helix designed the adjacent three-story structure. Once constructed it will provide additional retail space and covered parking on the first floor and expanded floor-plates of 25,000-square-feet on the second and third floor for office tenants. An event space was added on the rooftop to serve building tenants and host special events.

What an extraordinary project for the Main Street corridor and the continued revitalization of downtown Kansas City!


23 November, 2016 | Awards, Historic Renovation, Recognition

Kansas City Police Headquarters Named “Project of the Year” at AIA Kansas City’s 2016 Design Excellence Awards

As a firm that focuses on people-centered design, we measure our success on the impact a building has on the people it serves – how it functions and the experience it creates. At Helix, we are perpetually in search of these opportunities to go beyond the functional need of a space and create an exceptional environment and experience.

One such project is the renovation and expansion of the Kansas City Police Department Headquarters, which was recently named “Project of the Yearand received an “Honor Award” in the Architecture category at AIA Kansas City’s 2016 Design Excellence Awards.

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The renovation and expansion of the KCPD Headquarters was designed to re-position the facility for another 70-years of service to the community while respecting the character of the historic structure. An important goal of the project was to increase transparency and expand police interaction with the community. This involved extensive changes to the first floor including the addition of a community room, which allows the public to engage in the Board of Police Commissioners meetings and serves as a venue for Police community outreach programming. The pattern of the concrete structural roof system in the new addition is adapted from Art Deco details that are found throughout the historic Police Headquarters building in both ornamental and functional roles.

“The headquarters renovation was a daunting project at the onset. Several of the 8 floors had not been updated since they were built in 1938.  With the vision of Helix Architecture and the dedicated work by JE Dunn, the end result has been nothing short of amazing.”

–  Major Sharon Laningham, Kansas City Police Department

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The 2016 AIA Kansas City Design Award jury was comprised of nationally recognized designers, including Luis Bernardo, principal with Design Collective, Inc.; Luanne Greene, president of Ayers Saint Gross and Steve Ziger, partner with Ziger/Snead Architects. Jury comments included:

“The Kansas City Police Dept. project says everything that’s right about how a police department relates to its community. They took a limited program and communicated a welcoming civic presence that communicates that the police are an integral part of their community. This is civic architecture at its finest.”

-Steve Ziger, AIA, partner with Ziger/Snead Architects

“This one as soon as I opened up the file it was like, whoa, this is a winner this is probably going to be the grand winner. It was such a powerful and strong statement right from the get go… The program was really just bathrooms, a fire stair and a small meeting room. But what they did with that and how they took the details of the building and transformed that into this whole new ceiling structure that just comes alive at night with light, the incorporation of public art, it really spoke to what a public building can be. And in these times for it to be an addition to the police headquarters, of course, is a great moment for the community. It was everybody’s number one project.”

-Luis Bernardo, FAIA
, principal with Design Collective, Inc.

“The Kansas City Police Department Headquarters was such a beautiful project in many ways but really poignant and timely for us. The day that we got together and reviewed all the projects was a day that the news cycle was completely dominated by communities and struggles, frankly, with their police departments. At a time when our country is really struggling with these complex issues it was really wonderful to see a project where such an important civic institution as the police department headquarters project really spoke to the strength and spirit of community for Kansas City.”

-Luanne Greene, FAIA, president of Ayers Saint Gross

You can watch the full video of jury comments here:kcpd-video-screen-capture

Congratulations to our clients at the Kansas City Police Department, our construction partners at JE Dunn Construction, our engineering partners and all of our Helix design team members. Successful projects are only achieved through strong relationships across all team members and these awards belong to all of you.


23 September, 2016 | Academic, Historic Renovation, Renovation

Renovation transforms Norrington Hall into a high-tech library and academic commons for Park University

Park University students started the school year with a new (old) addition to campus. Norrington Hall, the only functioning Carnegie Library on a college campus in Missouri, underwent a dramatic renovation to transform it into a new academic commons focused on access to information through technology.

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Located in the heart of Park University’s campus, next to iconic Mackay Hall, Norrington Hall has housed various uses since the library relocated to a new location on campus in 1988. Park University, under new leadership, strategically proposed the library return to its original home in Norrington Hall and become a state-of-the-art academic commons.

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As an academic commons, the design features a variety of spaces to support on site as well as distance learning and foster a sense of community between students, faculty and staff. Key spaces include collaborative and private study areas, a technology-rich classroom featuring mobile furniture and white boards (even on the desk tops), and a centralized coffee shop located just inside the new main entry that will create a destination on campus for students, faculty and staff to study and socialize.

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The coffee shop also offers outdoor seating on a new terrace overlooking improved pedestrian-friendly grounds. This outdoor space links Norrington and Mackay Hall and creates a new campus quad with centralized greenspace for assembly and play, right at the foot of these historic and iconic campus structures.

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A new special event venue, the Campanella Art Gallery, will feature student and professional art exhibits.

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Now that the fall semester is in full swing you can find Norrington Center filled with activity. Although much has changed since Norrington was first built as a Carnegie Library in 1906, we are incredibly proud of being part of the team that returned the building to a place of knowledge-sharing and learning.  #ParkProud

All images by Michael Robinson Photography


10 Kansas City Buildings Celebrating 100 Years

Here at Helix we love old buildings, so it’s no surprise that our own office has quite a history. It was built in 1916 as the Exide Battery Factory and officially turns 100-years-old this year. We shared a blog post last week about the history of our own building and it made us curious what other buildings in Kansas City share a similar history. Here are some of our favorites!

1. Exide Battery Depot (Helix Architecture + Design), 1916

Located in the heart of the Crossroads at 17th and Walnut, the Exide Battery Building is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of thirteen buildings that are part of the historic Walnut Street Warehouse and Commercial Historic District. It was originally designed by architect Herman Stroeh and built by Fogel Construction.

Read the full history of the Helix building from last week’s blog.

Historic Exide Battery Deport photo | The interior of the Helix building before construction began. Historic Exide Battery Deport photo | The interior of the Helix building before construction began.

2. H.E. Lee Mercantile Company, 1917

This building located in the Crossroads Historic Freight District – 2019 Wyandotte – was built in the early 1900’s. It was home to the H.D. Lee Mercantile Company, simply “Lee” today.  A producer of work apparel, namely denim, the building was completed in 1917, shortly after Lee’s invention of the “Union-All” overalls. These overalls, which could quickly be pulled over work wear would become the official uniform of American Doughboys in 1917 during WWI. This manufacturing and distribution center operated until mid-century when a flood wiped out the entirety of the factory’s merchandise. Today the building is home to the Piper Lofts, but it’s history is a reminder of the creativity and hard work that our great city was founded on.

Lee's Union Alls, invented in 1913 and manufactured in Kansas City's Crossroads Historic Freight District. H.D. Lee Mercantile Company, 1917 | H.D. Lee Mercantile Building in the Historic Freight District of Kansas City, circa 1928.Lee’s Union Alls, invented in 1913 and manufactured in Kansas City’s Crossroads Historic Freight District. H.D. Lee Mercantile Company, 1917. H.D. Lee Mercantile Building in the Historic Freight District of Kansas City, circa 1928.

3. Union Station, 1914

This monumental and iconic 850,000 square foot building, located at 30 W. Pershing Road, is one of the most stunning buildings in the city. During it’s lifetime as a functioning train station, until the 1980’s when the station closed, this space accommodated hundreds of thousands of passengers. Traffic at Union Station peaked during WWI with nearly 80,000 trains passing through the station (approximately 270 trains a day)! To give an idea of scale, the three major arches on the front facade are nearly 90 feet in height. Most recently it was the location of the biggest rally Kansas City has ever seen- the celebration of the Kansas City Royal’s World Series Championship. Reminding the city that, even at 100 years old, she still knows how to party.

Union Station during construction in the 1910's & Union Station last fall during the Royal's Celebration rally. Union Station during construction in the 1910’s & Union Station last fall during the Royal’s Celebration rally.

4. Coca-Cola Building (Western Auto Building), 1914

You may know this uniquely shaped 12-story building on 21st and Grand as the Western Auto Building, but this 100 year old treasure was once the regional headquarters of Coca-Cola in Kansas City. Built in 1914, this building was designed based on the pie-shaped plot of land it was to be built on. The building was later sold to Western Auto in 1948, and it’s iconic “Western Auto” sign was placed on top of it in 1952. This building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988 and is now is home to residential loft condos. From Coke to cars to condos, this pie in sky is a great slice of KC history.

Coca-Cola Buiding, built by the Candler family (owners of the soda company) and designed by Arthur C. Tufts. With the curved facade of the building, it may be one of Tufts most unique designs. | An original plan of the building, part of the building's 1988 submission for the National Register of Historic Places. Coca-Cola Buiding, built by the Candler family (owners of the soda company) and designed by Arthur C. Tufts. With the curved facade of the building, it may be one of Tufts most unique designs. An original plan of the building, part of the building’s 1988 submission for the National Register of Historic Places.

5. First Children’s Mercy Hospital (Kansas City University), 1915

Construction on Children’s Mercy Hospital’s first hospital building was completed in 1915 at 1750 Independence Avenue. That hospital would eventually become the home of Kansas City University‘s administration building in 1921. In 2015 that building, as well as their academic center were renovated  in partnership with Helix to ensure their students can utilize it for the next 100 years. Interestingly enough, although the school and building both had their starts separate of one another, they are both celebrating their centennial in the same year. Congrats KCU on 100 years!

The former Children's Mercy Hospital, now home to Kansas City University's Administration Building, was recently renovated by Helix. The former Children’s Mercy Hospital, now home to Kansas City University’s Administration Building, was recently renovated by Helix.

6. Federal Reserve Bank, 1914

The first Federal Reserve Bank building in Kansas City, located at 928 Grand, opened in 1914, as a temporary home, until the official building across the street, at 925 Grand, could be built and opened in 1921. That building, was home to President Harry S. Truman’s office following his return from the White House in 1953 until the Truman Library opened four years later. Pictured below is the location at 925 Grand in the historic Financial District of KC; the bank announced its relocation to 29th & Main in 2002, just south of Liberty Memorial, where it houses The Money Museum. There you can see billions of dollars in the vault, hold a 27 lb. gold bar or explore President Truman’s impressive coin collection.

Federal Reserve Building building on 9th & Grand circa 1928, and now in present day. Federal Reserve Building building on 9th & Grand circa 1928, and now in present day.

7. Rockhurst College (Rockhurst University), 1914

Construction of Sedgwick Hall, located on the westside of Rockhurst‘s campus (53rd & Troost), was completed in 1914. Thus began many young men’s high school education. The 25 acres of land had been purchased by Reverend Michael Dowling, the founder of the college, in 1909. College courses were first offered in 1917 and today this campus educates roughly 3,000 students. Today, Sedgwick Hall houses Mabee Theater, classrooms and several faculty offices.

Sedgwick Hall, built in 1914, was the first building on the Rockhurst University campus. First graduating class at Rockhurst College. Sedgwick Hall, built in 1914, was the first building on the Rockhurst University campus. First graduating class at Rockhurst College.

8. Paseo YMCA, 1914

Built in 1914 after Julius Rosenwald pushed residents of the city to raise $80,000, this YMCA was the first civic center in KC built to serve African Americans. However, the building’s most significant historic value lies in the year 1920. That was the year eight independent black negro baseball team owners met over lunch in this very spot. They formed the Negro National League and later the Negro Leagues. Just a short walk down from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the space was just recently converted into the Buck O’Neil Education & Research Center, the latest addition to the museum. This historically and culturally rich building is an important part of Kansas City past. Seeing it restored and used today brings so much to the 18th & Vine district.

The Paseo YMCA was a large community effort that successfully resourced the neighborhood with the YMCA's facilities. The Paseo YMCA was a large community effort that successfully resourced the neighborhood with the YMCA’s facilities.

The north side of the Paseo YMCA building, today the Buck O'Neil Education & Research Center, is home to these murals depicting the Kansas City Monarchs. The south side of the Paseo YMCA building, today the Buck O’Neil Education & Research Center, is home to these murals depicting the Kansas City Monarchs.

9. Muehlebach Hotel (Marriott Downtown), 1915

The son of Muehlebach Beer Company‘s founder, George E. Muehlbach Jr., bought the former First Baptist Church on the southwest corner of 12th & Baltimore in 1913. After demolishing the building, he completed this 12 story hotel for $2 million dollars in 1915. The hotel went onto be visited by every President from Theodore Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan, and celebrities such as Helen Keller, Ernest Hemingway, Babe Ruth, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and The Beatles. After changing ownership several times from 1960 until 1996, Marriott Hotels bought the building and made it into an extension of their existing downtown location. The original lobby and ballrooms have been restored and are used today as banquet halls.

Historic Muehlebach Hotel as it was in 1915 seen in this promotional post card. The State Suite was the location that the Muehlebach's finest guests would have stayed - including many U.S. Presidents. The Plantation Grill inside historic Muehlebach Hotel. Historic Muehlebach Hotel as it was in 1915 seen in this promotional post card. The State Suite was the location that the Muehlebach’s finest guests would have stayed – including many U.S. Presidents. The Plantation Grill inside historic Muehlebach Hotel.

10. Firestone Building, 1915

Built in 1915 by Firestone Tire & Rubber, this building was the largest investment the company had made to date: $300,000. Harvey S. Firestone chose Kansas City mainly for its “good roads,” and its central location to many farming communities and business opportunities – knowing the farming industry would be a key to the success of his company.

At the southeast corner of 20th & Grand, this site was considered midtown 100 years ago, but today it is a part of the Crossroads Arts District. Currently the first and eighth floors are used as an event space with other commercial tenants occupying the other floors of the building. If you look closely when driving by, you can still see the glowing historic Firestone letters in the windows – one letter on each floor.

The Firestone building today, with historical sign lettering, used as an event space. This image of the elevations were a part of its submission for the National Register of Historic Places. The Firestone building today, with historical sign lettering, used as an event space. This image of the elevations were a part of its submission for the National Register of Historic Places.


From Battery Depot to Design Laboratory – 100 Years of History

One-hundred years ago the the Electric Storage Battery Company opened a new Exide Battery Depot at the corner of 17th and Walnut Streets in Kansas City, Missouri. Today, that building is home to the Helix Architecture + Design team. As we celebrate this milestone occasion, it seemed appropriate to dig a bit deeper into the history behind these four walls.

Designed in 1916 by German-born Kansas City architect Herman Stoeh, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of thirteen buildings that are part of the historic Walnut Street Warehouse and Commercial Historic District. According to National Park Service records, “the introduction and ensuing success of the cable car and electric trolley had much to do with the overall development of the Walnut Street Warehouse and Commercial District area.”

Exide HistoricHistoric image of 1629 Walnut / The original newspaper announcement for the building in the May 13, 1916 issue of Electrical Review and Western Electrician Magazine.

Innovative Beginnings

The Electric Storage Battery Co. had it’s start and major boom in business growth in the late 1800’s. The batteries – or “Chloride Accumulators” as they were called – were on the cutting edge and as soon as their usefulness caught on, demand picked up. Their first big break into the automotive industry was an order for 13,000 cells to power six new electric streetcars in Philadelphia. This shift in demand forced the company into larger facilities. From there, the company moved onto luxury railroad cars, small batteries for fans, sewing machines, telephone exchanges and phonographs, and then in 1898, the first submarine in the U.S. This same technology was even used to transmit the first transcontinental telephone service and wireless telegraph transmission.

Exide Battery BrandHistoric Exide battery advertisements throughout the years

In 1910, the company developed it’s first new battery used in electric taxicabs with greater energy capacity and less weight. These models bore the “Exide” brand name for the first time. From that time on, the company was pioneering automobile battery technology. The Exide Battery Depot at 17th and Walnut was one of many locations that manufactured, stored and sold these innovative new batteries.

A Second Life

As with many buildings in the Crossroads, the Exide Battery Depot sat abandoned for many years before Helix renovated the two story structure into our offices in 2003.  We retained the historic integrity of the building while transforming the empty interior space into a people-centered design laboratory dedicated to building community and inspiring collaboration. From within these walls our talented team has impacted the lives of thousands of people who live, work and play in the spaces we design.

Helix Before1629 Walnut before Helix renovated the building

Fifty percent of the building is a community gathering space, which we have used to host a wide variety of social events and arts performances. A modern fireplace serves as the literal and figurative heart of the building. Open workstations, quiet alcoves and standing-height meeting spaces fill the design studio upstairs. Throughout the entire office there are boards lined with sketches, inspiration images and plans for buildings that we are bringing to life. 

Helix events

helix after

With solar panels on our roof and Electric Vehicle charging stations out back, our building has also become a test bed for sustainable technology. From automobiles to architecture, we’re proud to know that those who went before us were pioneering in their field and we look forward to carrying the torch from here!

Sources:

http://www.exide.com/Media/files/The%20History%
20of%20Exide%20Technologies.pdf
http://dnr.mo.gov/shpo/nps-nr/99001158.pdf
http://www.exide.com/en/about/locations.aspx


Preserving Kansas City’s historic landmarks for future generations

Since its founding in 1974, Historic Kansas City (HKC) has been the only greater Kansas City nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the area’s heritage, neighborhoods and historic built environment.

Last night at their annual Preservation Awards ceremony, HKC celebrated the people – developers, building owners, architects and preservationists – that have demonstrated exceptional leadership in historic preservation across our city. Three Helix clients, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, the owners of the Brass on Baltimore and the General Services Administration were among those honored for their preservation and reinvestment in significant landmark buildings.

Preserving these structures for future generations retains an important piece of our history and  identity as a city. It was an honor to work alongside the leaders at each of these organizations to breathe new life into these monumental buildings.

Kansas City Police Department Headquarters Renovation & Expansion | Excellence Award | Innovation
The renovation and expansion of the Kansas City Police Headquarters re-positions the facility, originally built in 1938, for another 70 years of service to the community while respecting the character of the historic 100,000-square-foot structure. This included a full renovation of the historic structure for modern police use, as well as a significant investment on the ground floor to increase transparency and improve police interaction with the community.

KCPD Before + After

Helix’s design of the community room addition takes cues from the existing Art Deco headquarters and adjacent Brutal­ist Municipal Court buildings. The Art Deco pattern of the concrete roof structure is found throughout the original Police Headquarters in both ornamental and functional roles.

KCPD Ceiling Inspiration

 

Brass on Baltimore | Merit Award | Preservation Practice
The renovation of the historic Kansas City Club building at 13th and Baltimore in downtown Kansas City restored the buildings historic character while inserting modern amenities. Recently renamed the “Brass on Baltimore”, the building houses 67 lofts and 9 unique event spaces across 15-floors. Appearing on the National Register of Historic Places, the historic building is a stunning example of elaborate, gothic Tudor detailing and old-world craftsmanship.

Brass on Baltimore Before + After

Built in 1920, the 15-story building was originally built as the home of the Kansas City Club, a private gentlemen’s club established in 1882. Helix’s renovation of the luxury event spaces on the 1st-6th floors, included restoration and updates to the original grand lobby, Press Room, Tudor Room, Walnut Room, and library. The project also included the complete renovation of the 15th floor, which had been converted to apartments in 2002, and the addition of an outdoor terrace that offers 180-degree views in downtown Kansas City.

Brass on Baltimore Interiors Before + After

 

Richard Bolling Federal Building Modernization | Excellence Award | Contemporary Design in a Historic Context
Encompassing two full city blocks in the government district of downtown Kansas City, the 18-story Richard Bolling Federal Building is a landmark on the city skyline. Built during the Great Society period in the early 1960’s, the tower stretches East and West across the two-block site, interrupting Cherry Street in the downtown street grid. At more than 1.2-million-gross-square-feet it’s one of the largest high-rise office buildings in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Richard Bolling Federal Building Site Before + After

The modernization of the Richard Bolling Federal Building, led by Helix Architecture + Design, GastingerWalker& and JE Dunn Construction, transformed the existing structure into a high-performance building and Class A work environment for 2,800 federal employees while preserving the historic Mid Century architecture. The renovation was completed in 4-phases over 15-years and officially celebrated its re-dedication in November 2015.

Richard Bolling Federal Building Interiors Before + After

Each of these buildings offers a rich history of people that have passed through the front doors – people who shared their workday, their passion for serving their community, their milestones and their celebrations. Thanks to the investment of our clients, people will continue to experience their beauty, their craftsmanship and iconic presence in our community for years to come.

For those of you that love old buildings as much as we do, Historic Kansas City hosts events throughout the year. You can check them out, along with a full list of award winners on their website.


KCU Administration Building Renovation

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

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

We are excited to announce the completion of another successful project with Kansas City University of Medicine & Biosciences (KCU). Originally home to the first Children’s Mercy Hospital, the 100-year-old building became part of KCU in the 1970s. Today, the newly renovated building functions as both the Administration Building and campus Welcome Center.

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

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

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

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

Prior to beginning design, Helix led a team of key stakeholders through a series of visioning sessions, in which we were able to define underlying directives for the project, such as: perceived University identity, campus culture, fundamental business drivers, modern day work styles and the desired look and feel for the space.

The building serves over 1,000 KCU students and approximately 70 members of KCU faculty and staff. By opening up the floorplan we were able to make the building easier to navigate, while introducing hospitality areas, progressive workplace solutions, and expanded A/V capabilities to address the evolving needs of students and staff, alike.

By transitioning administrative space to an open office environment the space enhances inter-department communication and improves access for students. This strategic shift in culture also increased shared social spaces directly adjacent to major circulation paths to give an open, welcoming appeal.

KCU_Admin_Building_ImagesThe completion of the Administration Building serves as the kickoff event for KCU’s 2016 Centennial celebration. This preservation and modernization of the building reflects KCU’s past, and celebrates a future of continued collaboration, research and service to the communities it serves.

In line with KCU’s commitment to sustainability, Helix developed a building renovation concept that re-used the existing structure while re-configuring and modernizing the space to better serve the university’s needs. Slated to achieve LEED Silver Certification, the project incorporated high efficiency building systems, improved the indoor environment for building users and repurposed existing materials to the fullest extent possible.

Congratulations to our partners at KCU on this milestone for the university and our project team on a beautiful space that blends academic services and workplace design seamlessly into a historic building!

Images by Michael Robinson Photography


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