Browsing Historic Renovation

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


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

 

 


A New Addition to Kansas City

Two hundred people showed up for the ribbon cutting and grand “re-opening” of Kansas City’s newly refurbished downtown Police Headquarters designed by Helix.  The afternoon offered rare behind the scenes tours of the project to the general public and an exhibit on the history of the police department.

The original building was designed by prominent Kansas City architects Wight & White  (also designers of the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art).  Police Headquarters along with City Hall and the Jackson County Courthouse buildings form a civic plaza in the heart of the government district downtown.  Work is concluded on the first full renovation of Headquarters since it was constructed in 1938. The $28 million remodel was funded by the quarter-cent public safety sales tax approved by voters. The renovation provides adequate space and up-to-date facilities for administrative and investigative employees of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department. It includes the addition of a tower on the north side of the building and a spacious community room. Police Headquarters is now compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Visitors will be able to view the numerous historical artifacts and photos on display from the KCPD’s 140-year history, thanks to the Kansas City Police Historical Society. To read more, check out the latest article in The Kansas City Star!


Award Season

Award Season is upon us, and Helix-designed projects have been taking the stage- and in some instances- dominating it!  This month we are celebrating the success of 18th &Vine’s Highland Place re-development, as it has proven deserving of the state’s Preserve Missouri Award and Historic KC’s Preservation Award under “Best Preservation Practices.”  Last Friday’s Capstone Award Ceremony recognized three Helix projects: The Richard Bolling Federal Building (with 1.2 million gross sf), Webster Garage in Kansas City’s Crossroads, and Sporting Innovation’s renovation of the historic Lowe and Campbell Building (which also received a Historic KC Award, under “Contemporary Design”).

We want to thank everyone who contributed to the success of these projects!


The Green Screen

Click for larger image

The Green Screen at the Reeves Wiedeman Company HQ on Main Street is growing strong.  The screen, half covered in the middle of the seasonal growth period, exemplifies the steps people can take to reduce their impact on the earth.  Helix implemented this design feature to help the project reach LEED Gold certification.


Helix Renovates Police Headquarters

Photo Credit: Keith Myers

The $21 million renovation and expansion of the Kansas City Police Headquarters was featured in the Kansas City Star today.

“We’ll bring it back to the original, and the ornamental crown molding on the ceiling will be restored,” said Reeves Wiedeman, a principal at Helix Architecture & Design, the project architect. “All will be restored to the original design.”


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