Browsing Hospitality

8 May, 2018 | Hospitality, Renovation

The Sundry Shares Sustainable Vision with Local Entrepreneurs

The Sundry  recently opened the doors to its new, 3,300-square-foot home in the annex building at Westport Commons, one of Kansas City’s latest co-working spaces. The Sundry owner, Ryan Wing selected the location for its proximity to like-minded entrepreneurs and partnerships that can help them expand their business.

As Wing shared with Startland News:

“Our goal is to scale up the availability of sustainable and local food, so that means we need to work with a lot of partners to make it happen. The more people you get in the space together, the more ideas enter the door.”

Having designed The Sundry’s original location in the Crossroads, Helix Architecture + Design was asked to lead the design of their new location. A local gathering space, The Sundry sells groceries, food and drinks to those working in the building as well as the surrounding neighborhoods. At The Sundry, guests have access to a full coffee and cocktail bar perfect for meetings or unwinding with friends. They can also take advantage of made-from-scratch, prepared meals at the on-site market.

The focal point in the new space is a open kitchen and bar, reflecting the company’s vision of transparency and commitment to local, sustainable food. Custom shelves suspended over the cooking area provide additional storage and allow guests to see ingredients on display. A large bar, traditional tables and lounge area offer seating for 100. To gain additional seating, Helix designed a lofted area above the private dining room.

In addition to serving restaurant goers, The Sundry has expanded their offerings with the new space. With direct access to a wide-range of entrepreneurs, they have already seen an increase in catering business and are planning future partnerships with other organizations housed within Westport Commons.

19 April, 2018 | Design, Hospitality

Caffetteria: Creating a New Hospitality Experience From Concept to Opening

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Professional photography by William Hess.


From Burlesque to Bulldozers: The History of Kansas City’s Folly Theater

The Folly Theater, Kansas City’s oldest standing theater, recently kicked off fundraising and plans to renovate their lobby and Shareholders lounge. In order to completely upgrade the theater’s hospitality experience, the Helix design team is re-opening the original connection between the second floor lounge and the lobby below, as well as reconfiguring the lobby to improve patrons’ flow throughout the space.

Original Standard Theater and program circa 1901.

Although Helix has renovated several of Kansas City’s historical theaters, the Folly’s history is unique among its peers. Opened in September 1900 as the Standard Theater, the venue first opened featuring Vaudeville. This entertainment genre was incredibly popular at the turn of the century and can be likened to an early version of a variety show, often featuring several acts including musicians, trained animals, comedians, acrobats, one-act plays and burlesque. The $250,000 building was designed by Kansas City architect Louis S. Curtiss (who is also known for his work on the Boley Building, home of Helix client Andrews McMeel Universal). A year after Standard Theater opened, the nearby Coates Opera House caught fire, and all opera and comedic opera performances were relocated to the theater, under its new name – Century Theater.

From top left, going clockwise: Architect Louis S. Curtiss, original architectural drawings, various vaudeville performance examples.

By 1922, vaudeville popularity had declined and the theater was closed, only to be re-opened the following year by the Shubert Brothers. The Schubert family is responsible for the establishment of the Broadway district in New York City and by 1924 they owned eighty-six theaters in the United States. Re-named (again) Shuberts Missouri, the new owners hired architect Herbert Krapp to renovate the balconies, reinforcing the wood structure with concrete, and began featuring theater productions throughout the mid 1920’s. Acts included The Marx Brothers, Shakespeare and O’Neill plays. The Shuberts subleased the space in 1928 to a burlesque troupe and in 1932 the theater was again closed.

From top, going clockwise: The Folly Theater circa 1941, a movie poster for the 1962 film Gypsy, the real Gypsy Rose Lee performs on stage.

The Folly Theater was born in 1941, and featured burlesque through two decades. Iconic burlesque dancer and entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee, whose memoirs were the basis for the stage musical and film Gypsy, is said to have taken the stage for the first time at the Folly. In 1958, ownership introduced movies to burlesque stage shows.

Finally in 1973 the theater closed and was slated for demolition. At this time, a local group of historic preservationist activists formed a non-profit, Performing Arts Foundation (PAC), led by Joan Dillon and William Deramus III. The group successfully saved the theater, with the City Council passing a demolition delay ordinance in March 1973. The theater was placed on the National Register of Historic Places the following year and purchased by PAC.

Images of the Folly Theater during renovations during the 1980’s and various members of PAC.

For nearly ten years, the theater underwent extensive renovations, including considerable cleaning efforts, plaster repair, window restoration, roof repair, new M/E/P, updated HVAC systems and the addition of a new wing. The theater re-opened in 1981 with a staff of eight, featuring the comedy “Room Service.” Since the grand rehabilitation of this historic gem, the Folly has gained a reputation in town for their niche market. The acoustics inside the theater have been compared to Carnegie Hall, attracting musical acts from blues bands to chamber ensembles.

New renderings of the downstairs lobby and upstairs Shareholders lounge, provided by Helix.

As the Folly embarks on this latest renovation, the Helix design concept aligns with the character and history of the original structure. The project is the centerpiece of a $1.55 million campaign, which has already made major strides with a $775,000 donation from the Kemper Foundation.

The design revitalizes the lobby and shareholders lounge through finishes, furniture and lighting, while dramatically improving the functionality. A new curved bar area and ticket counter will be the highlight of the first-floor space. The curves of the bar, inspired by design details in the original lobby and theatre, will extend upward in the curvature of the columns. New floor tile, reminiscent of the early 1900’s, will continue into the original lobby, tying both spaces together seamlessly. The updated layout of the ticket counter, bar and lobby restrooms will allow patrons to flow through the space more comfortably. A new stair will invite guests to visit the second-floor lounge both before and after the show. Similarly, the addition of an elevator will allow this space to be easily shared by everyone. Lastly, the addition of a small kitchen on the second floor will allow for events to be catered more easily.

We’re thrilled to be working with such a fantastic client on such a beautiful piece of Kansas City’s rich and colorful history. Head over to Folly Theater’s website to view their list of upcoming events.

15 March, 2018 | Hospitality, Renovation

Coffee + Cocktails for the Adventurous Spirit

Helix’s experience with hospitality design has provided the opportunity to work on some hidden gems throughout Kansas City. One of the latest to open is Nomads Coffee + Cocktails along 39th Street’s restaurant row.

Formerly the home of dive bar D.B. Cooper’s, the new Nomad’s Coffee + Cocktails was completely transformed by a local couple whose love of adventurous travel inspired the name and decor. A new wall of floor-to-ceiling windows make the warm wood tones and deep blue walls seem simultaneously bright and cozy.

Feast Magazine shared their take on the renovated space in their review of the new establishment:

“Now, the space has been entirely re-imagined as Nomads, a sleek coffee and cocktail bar with big windows, bright light and even cheese plates…The only familiar aspects from Nomads’ former dive days are the small ramp that leads you inside and a bar, which is in the same location as the last. But that’s where similarities end. The drop ceilings are gone, which makes the space feel considerably larger, and the walls are painted a cool, deep blue. Large-format adventure and travel photography follows the nomad theme, while floor-to-ceiling windows, which can be partially opened during periods of good weather, let light pour into this prime 39th Street location. A bar with eight seats lines the street-facing windows, and a tufted bench occupies the east wall where D.B.’s booths once sat. The rest of the space is filled with small wooden two-tops, ideal for sipping coffee or a glass of wine and working during the day.”

Nomads was the vision of husband-and-wife team Dr. Andrew Park and Dr. Megha Ramaswamy. Both Park and Ramaswamy are doctors at the University of Kansas Medical Center, just a few steps away. The Nomads name comes from the couple’s love of travel and photos featuring some of their trips line the walls. We loved working side-by-side with this entrepreneurial duo to bring their vision for the space to life.

The whole Helix team popped in for happy hour soon after the opening and can attest to the facts that the cocktails are as lovely and thoughtfully crafted as the space itself.

Photography by Bob Greenspan.

15 November, 2017 | Awards, Hospitality, Renovation

Boulevard Brewing Co.’s Tours & Recreation Center Wins ‘Professional’s Choice’ at AIA KC’s annual Design Excellence Awards

Each year the Kansas City architecture community gathers to celebrate the latest and greatest design within our city at AIA Kansas City’s Design Excellence Awards. We are honored that one of our projects – the Boulevard Tours & Recreation Center – was selected by our peers for the “Professionals Choice” award.

Helix worked with Boulevard Brewing Co. to transform a 1920’s-era warehouse into a destination for tours, tastings and experiencing Boulevard Brewing Company’s culture. The concrete frame and masonry skin of the building were in exceptional condition but the interior had been turned into office space in the ‘90s. The design team stripped the interior down to its raw, industrial roots revealing beautiful exposed concrete and original brick walls.

The program demanded openness and connectivity throughout the facility to enhance traffic flow and to maximize each visitor’s experience. While the existing building presented constraints, the design concept integrated two large perforations up to the second floor to create a new circulation path and provide clear flow throughout the building.

Boulevard’s unwavering commitment to authenticity, sustainability and craftsmanship was expressed through the selected materials as well as numerous collaborations with local craftsman, who created custom installations in almost every aspect of construction. As a zero-waste company, special attention was giving to employing recycled and repurposed materials, strategies for energy efficiency, reduction of water use and construction waste recycling.

The project has been an overwhelming success, attracting out-of-town visitors and locals, alike. In addition to being recognized by AIA Kansas City, the project has also received a Gold Award in the Hospitality Category at the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Mid America Design Awards (MADA), a Capstone Award from the Kansas City Business Journal and a Cornerstone Award from the Kansas City Economic Development Corporation.

Design, engineering and construction partners included: Carpenter Collective, Crossland Construction, BGR Engineers, Bob D. Campbell, Santee Becker, Walter P Moore Civil Engineering, Palomino Woodworks, Hammer Out Design and KC Structural Steel.

Take a look at the new Tours & Recreation Center in this walk-through video:

29 July, 2016 | Academic, Art, Hospitality, Renovation

Designing Spaces that Nurture the Arts: Renovation of the Olson Performing Arts Center for the KCRep & UMKC

There is a reason that Kansas City consistently ranks among the top cities in the country for the arts; as a city, we invest in the people and places that are nurturing creative talent. At Helix, we are proud that we have been able to work with some of the city’s top arts and cultural organizations to create spaces that inspire, serve and engage patrons and artists alike.

Helix, KC Rep, Kansas City MORecently, this includes the $6.5 million renovation and expansion of the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center for the Kansas City Repertory Theatre and the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC). Located on the UMKC campus, the newly renovated building gives both organizations a home that showcases the talented artists that it serves.

“We’ve really made it into one of the most beautiful (regional) theaters, from what had been a really dated 1979 building,” Eric Rosen, the Kansas City Rep’s artistic director shared with KCUR at the building’s ribbon cutting. “Now we have a building that matches the quality and caliber of of the national work that we put on our stage here at Spencer.”

Helix, KC Rep, Kansas City MO

The Helix design team placed a strong emphasis on not only technical needs for the theatre itself, but the overall patron experience. The renovation included an expansion of the lobby, substantial improvements to the Spencer Theatre performance space, an expanded patron lounge, new ADA compliant restrooms and expanded concessions.

If you haven’t been to a performance in the new space yet, here’s a sneak peak at the transformation.

Spencer Theatre Improvements at UMKCImprovements within the performance space, including a new stage, lighting, acoustics and seats, enhance the experience for both patrons and performers.

Before & After of the Olson Performing Arts Center at UMKC Lobby

The expanded lobby features a centrally located bar, a variety of seating options and additional space for patrons to socialize before shows and during intermission.

Before & After of Olson Performing Arts Center at UMKC

Exterior renovations and the expanded lobby creates a stronger identity for UMKC and the KCRep while enhancing the building’s presence on campus.

The outcome is an environment that celebrates the arts while setting the stage for an experience that is much more than just a show. We highly recommend experiencing the space yourself at an upcoming performance. The KCRep’s 2016-2017 season starts September 9 with “Evita.” UMKC’s theatre department posts their full season of shows on their website.

Photography by Michael Robinson.

4 February, 2016 | Hospitality, In Progress, Renovation

Boulevard Brewing Announces New Visitor Center

Helix could not be more thrilled to share the news that we are working with Boulevard Brewing Co. on the design of their new Visitor Center. “We’re honored by the chance to work with one of Kansas City’s most cherished companies,” said Jay Tomlinson, principal with Helix.

Boulevard Brewery Visitor Center Rendering

When Boulevard opened its doors in 1989 it began welcoming those interested in touring its brewery and tasting its beers. For years the company offered just one tour a week, often attracting 15 or 20 people. As the company grew in size and stature, so did demand for its tours, recently ranked by national publications as among the best in the country. In 2015, Boulevard hosted almost 60,000 visitors on some 2,300 tours, turning away thousands more due to lack of space. “People tell me it’s a good problem to have, but it’s still a problem,” said Jeff Krum, Boulevard’s vice president of corporate affairs. “Now we think we’ve found a solution.”

As the company announced in a press release this morning, they recently acquired a four-story building at 2534 Madison, immediately adjacent to the brewery campus. The two lower levels of the red brick structure, built for the Skelly Oil Company in 1929, are being converted into a spacious visitor center. The first floor will consist of an “Experience” area with exhibits about beer and Boulevard, an expanded retail shop and a much larger tasting room. The 10,000 square foot second floor will be devoted to a Beer Hall featuring the brewery’s beers and offering a limited selection of food.

Boulevard Brewery Visitor Center Entry Rendering

“It’s humbling to see lines of people waiting for a chance to tour the brewery, and we’re proud of what we’ve done with limited space,” said Amber Ayres, Boulevard’s Director of Tours and Recreation. “But we’re really excited by this opportunity to re-imagine and radically enhance the experience. We hope it will become a destination for locals and visitors alike.”

The Helix team has been working closely with Boulevard to bring their vision to life. “The Boulevard team has an amazing vision for the experience they want to create,” said Alissa Wehmueller, director of interiors for Helix. “There’s a true sense of excitement and pride throughout our office that we have the opportunity to help create such a special spot for KC.”

Boulevard anticipates a grand opening by the end of June. More details will be posted on the company’s website as they become available.

Special thanks to our Helix team members that have been working to make this project a reality – Erin Stork for her talent in creating places that people love to gather, Cale Sadowski for his diligence in seeing every detail through completion and Annie Nutsch for our beautiful renderings.

We can’t wait to share that first “cheers” from the new space overlooking the brewery and our favorite city!

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.

19 December, 2013 | Helix People, Hospitality, Workplace

“We Care” 2013

In the midst of sickness and sluggishness that cold weather brings, a contagious case of holiday cheer recently spread through the Helix office. A large group of Helix employees eagerly participated in the annual “We Care” event this year and subsequently transformed our resource library into something resembling an elf’s workshop. “We Care,” hosted and sponsored nationally by Herman Miller, took place last week at the Thornberry Boys and Girls Club for the event’s Kansas City region. The design community came together for a joy-filled evening of creating and sharing holiday crafts with local children. Over 13 architecture and design firms participated, along with a variety of dealer partners, alliance partners and volunteer groups. By the end of the night, our industrious group of Helix elves had supplied over 125 custom-decaled scarves to appreciative children.

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