Browsing Leadership

12 December, 2016 | Awards, Leadership, Recognition

Helix Architecture + Design named ‘Firm of the Year’

On Tuesday evening, Helix Architecture + Design was named 2016 Firm of The Year by AIA Kansas City. The award is given annually to one member firm that has shown extraordinary leadership in advancing the cause of architecture and its role in improving the quality of the built environment.

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AIA president, Dale Duncan cited the success of Helix’s merger with Blackbird Design Studio, recent local and national design awards and the firm’s leadership on key high-profile projects, such as the Kansas City Police Department’s Leon Mercer Jordan East Patrol Campus, as reasons for selection.

“Helix recently led design of the Leon Jordan East Patrol Campus, a transformative project in a depressed neighborhood on the east side. Helix set a higher standard for minority and women-owned business participation for the design team on that project and exceeded all goals, with a team of diverse architects, consultants and engineers in our community,” said Duncan. “Helix’s leadership is representative of the intent of our members to provide more equity in the way that we practice, and to raise the bar of diversity for the future of our members and our profession. It is quite remarkable what was accomplished.”

leon-mercer-jordanThe Leon Mercer Jordan East Patrol Campus includes a gymnasium, computer lab and meeting room that are available for community use.

AIA Kansas City accepts nominations for Firm of the Year from the general membership and selection is made through consensus by the entire board. The award was announced at AIA’s annual holiday party with over 200 local members in attendance.

“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by our peers,” said Reeves Wiedeman, founding principal of Helix Architecture + Design. “Helix was founded on a commitment to design excellence and community leadership nearly 25 years ago. This award is acknowledgement that remaining true to your core values and surrounding yourself with extraordinary people, both clients and staff, who share those values is the foundation for success.”

The award caps off a banner year for Helix, which has included the successful merger with Blackbird Design Studio, recognition by Architect magazine as one of the Top 50 architecture firms for design in the country and receipt of the Project of the Year award for the Kansas City Police Headquarters Renovation at AIA Kansas City’s Design Excellence Awards.

“We are proud of the accolades we have received this year but what truly energizes us is the development we see happening throughout our city,” said Jay Tomlinson, founding principal with Helix. “With each building we renovate, each block our clients infuse with new investment, we are adding to the momentum of Kansas City. We are proud to play a role in not only shaping the built environment but also how residents and visitors alike experience our community.”

completed-projects-2016A selection of the Helix projects completed in 2016

Helix has celebrated the completion of projects throughout the Kansas City region in 2016, including the Boulevard Brewing Co. Visitor Center, Corrigan Building renovation, Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences Administration Building, the International Apartments, Synergy Services Children’s Center, East 9 at Pickwick Plaza North Tower, Park University’s Norrington Academic Center, Academy for Integrated Arts new charter school, Kansas City Young Audiences midtown location and the adaptive reuse of 1700-1710 Wyandotte.

AIA Kansas City also recognized two of our clients with awards; Eric Bosch, City Architect with the City of Kansas City, Missouri received the Architect of the Year award and the Kansas City Police Department received the President’s Award. Other individual AIA members were recognized for their contributions to the profession, the community and the built environment.

Congratulations to the entire Helix team and all who were honored. We are proud to work among individuals with such talent and commitment to advancing our community!


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.

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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.


The Power of Workplace

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A ROOM FULL OF CORPORATE RECRUITERS GET TO DESIGN THEIR IDEAL WORK ENVIRONMENT?


Recruiters are on the front lines for corporations, and as many have experienced the workplace environment can either be a hindrance or a powerful tool. Last night, Team-KC: Life+Talent partnered with Alissa Wehmueller, workplace design expert with Helix Architecture + Design to explore the impact the workplace environment has on attracting and retaining talent. Alissa shared research on the benefits of investing in the work environment as well as best practices for how a company can achieve the greatest impact from their space.

AlissaImage courtesy of MetroWireMedia / Autumn Morningsky

WHAT IS THE VALUE OF INVESTING IN YOUR WORKPLACE?
There are a wide range of studies related to employee retention, engagement and attraction that have evaluated the benefits corporations experience when they invest in their workplace environment. A recent Work Design magazine article highlights how making that investment can enhance recruitment, lower attrition rates and increase profitability.

“A 2014 Hassell study indicated that the combination of strong overall culture and facilities actually outweighs salary and benefits when it comes to accepting a job offer. Moreover, a 2015 Chandler MacLeod study found that nearly three quarters of candidates would consider a slightly lower salaried position in a company that their friends have communicated is a great place to work.”

When you factor in the savings of employee retention — it can save a company $250,000 per employee — the financial benefits alone are a substantial payoff.

WE CAN’T ALL BE GOOGLE
As the workplace landscape shifts, there has been some backlash against the open office work environment in the media the last few years, including the widespread – Google got it wrong. Actually, Google got it right – for Google. But that doesn’t mean their environment is right for you. Ping pong tables, slides and yurts are not the key to a successful environment – understanding how your associates work and what they value is.

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SO WHERE DO YOU START?
Creating the ideal space for your organization is a balance of qualitative and quantitative data. Bringing on a workplace design expert early to guide this info-gathering phase ensures that you are starting off on the right foundation of data. This information will guide the layout, furniture and amenities to make sure your company is investing in the right choices and gaining the greatest value for your employees and the company.

WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF A PROGRESSIVE WORKPLACE?
While the best solution will vary from company to company, there are three key factors we find are consistently driving the success of progressive work environment:

  1. Choice
  2. Wellness
  3. Telling your story

Trends will come and go, but creating a flexible environment that responds to the unique needs of your people and showcases your culture will pay dividends in retaining and attracting talent to your organization.

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CHOICE: HOW DO YOU ACCOMMODATE DIFFERENT WORKSTYLES?
One size does not fit all. In fact, one size doesn’t fit
most. For the last 20 years the development of the desktop computer tethered us to our desks, but today’s technology allows us to work anywhere. This flexibility creates a tremendous opportunity to give employees the spaces and tools they need to support a variety of workstyles.

Various workstyles don’t just accommodate different individuals, but also the different tasks one individual might do throughout their day.

Day in the Life

And it’s not just about millennials.

“In 2015, the U.S. workforce was composed of 5 generations:

2% Traditionalist
29% Baby Boomers
34% GenX
34% Millennials
1% Post Millennials”

– Pew Research Center

Creating an environment that supports mentoring, collaboration and knowledge sharing across all of the generations in the workforce elevates the entire organization.

Workplace Wellness

WELLNESS: CAN YOU LEAVE YOUR OFFICE HEALTHIER THAN WHEN YOU ARRIVED?
Is it possible to create a space that reduces stress and helps promote physical well-being?
Employers have increasingly recognized the benefits of investing in initiatives that help improve the health of their associates. The loss of productivity and revenue that companies experience due illness can have a tremendous impact on a company’s bottom line.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reports that poor employee health accounts for some 45 million avoidable sick days each year and lost annual revenue of between $1,900 and $2,250 per employee.

This is particularly relevant to the design of work space because of the amount of time we spend at our offices each day and the impact that our environment has on our physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Some of the ways you can positively impact your associates include:

  • Develop a space layout that encourages physical activity
  • Select ergonomic furniture to promote good posture
  • Provide a connection to the outdoors
  • Integrate spaces that offer refuge from distractions
  • Provide amenities that help foster relationships

These strategies contribute to health, engagement, happiness and overall job satisfaction.

Andrews McMeel Universal Lobby

TELLING YOUR STORY: DOES YOUR SPACE ALIGN WITH YOUR BRAND?
If you took your logo off the wall would visitors know who you are? What does your physical environment communicate about your culture?

“Out of 3,000 workers surveyed, only 41% say they know what their company stands for and how it differs from their competitors.”

Gallup’s State of the American Workplace

Using your space to communicate your mission, vision, values and company culture is a powerful tool for employees, clients and potential candidates. It clearly communicates that your company is “walking the walk” and investing in their culture.

KCADC TeamKC Helix Event

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR IDEAL ENVIRONMENT?
We wrapped up the evening with an interactive exercise that allowed teams of recruiters create their own company and design their ideal workplace environment for potential new hires. There were some fun elements (who wouldn’t want to work for a “Technology Party Planner”!) alongside some really well thought out solutions.

Does your sales team love to golf? Incorporating a putting green into the outdoor space can provide a break in the workday and help them keep their short game on point.
Are children your clients? Create a fun, kid-sized entryway that makes your space memorable.
How can you make portions of your space feel like home? Many of us feel like we get our best “focus-work” done at our own homes so creating a quiet, comfortable space that is free of distractions can offer the same relief during the work day.

Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful questions, big ideas and insights into the solutions you’ve implemented in your own workspaces!

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
The needs of a modern workplace are constantly evolving alongside the people who work there. We would love to keep the dialog going on what is or isn’t working in your own work environment, the feedback you’re hearing from recruits or any great resources on creating an exceptional workplace for your people.

To learn more about the power of workplace, connect with Alissa on LinkedIn, send her an email or tweet us at @helixKC and @AlissaMay. To learn more about TeamKC: Life+Talent, contact Jessica Nelson.

For some additional reading check our MetroWireMedia‘s article, “Three ways to give your workplace a competitive edge” and Thinking Bigger‘s article, “A better workplace can help you attract the best workers.”


Kansas City Urban Hero Award

Each year the Downtown Council’s Urban Hero Awards recognize a select group of individuals who have had a significant impact on downtown Kansas City. This year Helix principal, Jay Tomlinson was recognized for his longstanding commitment to downtown, not only through his work but also his ongoing involvement with civic, arts and community organizations.

TOMLINSON Jay

As a downtown resident, Jay is a passionate advocate for the vibrant, walk-able experience that living in the Crossroads Arts District offers. His daily commute is approximately two-hundred steps – hard to beat!

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As an architect and business owner, Jay has worked downtown for over 30 years. His work with visionary clients who, like him, are committed to the continued vitality of the urban core has resulted in the renovation, restoration and adaptive reuse of over fifty buildings in downtown Kansas City. Many of these are notable landmarks, such as the Midland Theatre, the Webster House and Missouri Bank’s Crossroads Branch on Southwest Trafficway.

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Jay’s passion for downtown is equally matched by his commitment to supporting the arts. He has served as a board member for the Kansas City Art Institute, president and board member of the Charlotte Street Foundation and president of the Friends of Art of the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. He also co-founded the Urban Society of Kansas City and is past-president of the American Institute of Architects, Kansas City Chapter. He has held numerous civic board memberships and recently served on the Kansas City Mayor’s Economic Development Committee Advance KC and the Mayor’s Task Force for the Arts.

Other Urban Hero Award honorees for 2015 include Tysie McDowell-Ray and Dean Johnson of Crossroads Academy Kansas City, Leonard Graham of Taliferro & Brown and Harry Murphy of Harry’s Country Club.

Congratulations to all of the Urban Hero honorees. Your leadership inspires us all to continue the momentum that you have created and help make Kansas City a better place.


29 October, 2015 | Leadership

PDX + ULI: Bringing New Development Ideas Home to Kansas City

During the month of September I had the opportunity to attend the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Exchange trip to Portland and the Urban Land Institute’s Fall Conference in San Francisco. While the focus of these two events was different, I left both energized with new ideas to share with the rest of the Helix team and others in the Kansas City community who share our passion for making KC a healthy, growing, culture-filled place that people love to call home.

These are just a few of the takeaways that caught my attention and seemed to continuously appear throughout varied presentations I attended. While I view these ideas through the eyes of a designer, I would love to hear the perspectives of others. Hopefully this is just the beginning of an ongoing conversation about how we can continue to elevate our city.

We make our own luck
Many urbanists say that Portland is lucky to have the city they do today, but I say they made their own luck. 35 years ago, following state legislation that set agriculture and the environment as the two topics that are most dear to Oregonians, the people of Portland established their Urban Growth Boundary. Fast forward to today, and Portland now has the kind of city that the next generations want; dense urban places where business and culture can thrive in a setting that supports walking, biking and all forms of rail travel. If Portland was lucky, they made their own luck with their UGB. As Kansas City plans for growth we need to look beyond the current trends to what people will want in a city 30 years from now.

Culture is the new currency
Play. Work. Live. That is the order of how people adopt new places. Grand master plans are great, but the cities that nurture and support rich urban cultures, especially around the arts, will attract locals and visitors alike who want to be where that vibe exists. And, cities made up of single use districts (financial, residential, service) are going to be things of the past. It isn’t enough to create mixed-use districts; we need to create districts that put culture and experience first. If you do that housing and office development will follow. The Crossroads Arts District in KC is a prime example of this development pattern. We have so many great urban neighborhoods in KC – the Northeast, 18th & Vine, the West Bottoms – the list is too long to note them all. Where are these next pockets of culture in our community and what can we do together to help them thrive and grow?

The next MAJOR disruptor to commercial real estate
Autonomous vehicles. The world we live in today where we need several places to park our cars will be gone in  15 years. To get around we’ll simply notify the ride service that we use to pick us up and deliver us to our destinations Think of what that means? All of those parking spaces and garages that we’ve built will be ripe for repurposing. As our urban centers continue along the path of urban redevelopment we need to avoid over-building additional parking and make sure that any new structures are capable of adapting to other uses.

Tired of hearing about Millenials?
Well, Gen Z, the group following the Millenials will be in the workforce in 5 years and they are even larger in numbers than their predecessors. As the first TRUE digital natives, they look at the world differently. Because of technology they have lived their entire lives untethered so for them, ‘work’ will no longer be someplace they go but something they do. Their belief system will continue to change how and where we work.  The New York Times and Fortune magazine have published some really exceptional articles on the demographics of this generation and the potential impact they will have on the workplace environment.

What’s next in sustainable design?
For years energy use has been the primary driver behind sustainable development but water constraints will increasingly shape world-wide development patterns, and therefore our real estate. It’s also projected that 80% of the buildings we will need and occupy in 2050 already exist today. For those of us who believe that preserving existing buildings is one of the most effective ways to ensure both environmental and cultural sustainability, we couldn’t be more pleased to hear this news.

If you want to dig deeper on these two great events you can find the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce recap of the Portland Leadership Exchange HEREULI’s recap of the Fall Meeting HERE and videos of ULI presentations from the Fall Meeting HERE.

Open PhotoInsights from Helix principal, Jay Tomlinson Insights from Helix principal, Jay Tomlinson
Open PhotoMixed Use + Bike lanes. A great combo in PDX. Mixed Use + Bike lanes. A great combo in PDX.
Open PhotoFarm to table dinner with other KC leaders in PDX. Farm to table dinner with other KC leaders in PDX.
Open PhotoSan Francisco’s historic Pickwick Hotel is ALMOST as cool as KC’s. San Francisco’s historic Pickwick Hotel is ALMOST as cool as KC’s.

Helix Principal, Kristine Sutherlin Elected President of the Kansas City Architectural Foundation

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Congratulations to Helix principal, Kristine Sutherlin on being elected president of the Kansas City Architectural Foundation (KCAF) board. The organization has a tremendous impact on the Kansas City design community by granting scholarships to architectural students from the metropolitan area and hosting outreach events that educate citizens on the power of architecture to transform lives and improve the places where we live, learn, work, and play. Kristine has been involved with the organization since 2013 and recently finished a term as the organization’s vice president.

Since it was founded in 1984, KCAF has awarded more than 140 scholarships totaling over $250,000 to students from the Kansas City area. Over the next year the organization will be kicking off a capital campaign to increase the number and amount of student scholarships they provide.

Why is KCAF such an important organization for our community? We asked President Sutherlin herself.

“As college costs continue to escalate it is critical that we expand our reach within the design community. We want to make pursuing a career in architecture accessible for anyone that has a passion for this industry. Our scholarships have assisted some extraordinarily talented students and there is so much more that we can do as an industry to help support and train the next generation.”

Keep up the good work Kristine and thank you for helping to support young designers. We couldn’t be more proud to have you as one of the fearless leaders of our Helix family!


25 September, 2015 | Helix People, Leadership, Recognition

Katie’s “Magic” ARE Formula

CROWLEY Katie

Our licensed architects are multiplying here at Helix and we can barely keep up with sharing the news! We are excited to announce that another one of team members, Katie Crowley, is officially a licensed architect. What does that mean? It means that Katie passed the grueling seven-part Architectural Registration Exam (ARE), logged all the necessary Intern Development Program (IDP) hours, and can now officially call herself an architect.

Did we mention Katie is only four years out of school? She graduated from the University of Kansas is 2011 before joining Helix in 2013. Over the last year she has been working on the adaptive reuse of the 301 E. Armour building into multi-family residential apartments and the renovation of the James C. Olson Performing Arts Theater for the Kansas City Repertory Theatre and UMKC. She was also recently selected for AIA Kansas City’s 2015-2016 class of the Pillars Leadership Program. She’s a bit of a dynamo.

We asked Katie to share her secret to success and what’s next.

Q: Any weird study habits?
A:  Flashcards + Coffee = The Magic Formula.  I became a regular at many coffee shops! By the end of it I started to get a lot of looks and comments from other regulars. They were all thinking, “Really you’re studying for another one!”

Q: While taking the exams, did you find that you have a favorite subject matter?
A: Surprisingly, I got really interested in learning about contract documents and the project management side of architecture.

Q: Any favorite pump up music or playlists?
A: I think I had a different Spotify playlist for every exam.  The playlists had a mix of every genre of song you could think of (variety was the key to keeping me awake during many late nights).  But, when things got really tough I could always rely on a good old school 90’s playlist!

Q: What do you plan on doing with all your extra free time now that you aren’t studying for your exams?
A: I love to train and run half marathons so I hope to find time to do more races.  Running a race through Napa is top of my list 🙂

Q: Any words of encouragement for other architects who are currently studying for and/or taking their AREs?
A:  Just keep going!  All of the tests seem really overwhelming and are a lot of work, but it is totally worth it.

There you have it! 90’s music, flash cards, and the promise of a half marathon through Napa. Congratulations, Katie! We are so proud.

 


Centurions Class of 2017

The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce recently announced the Centurions Class of 2017 including Helix principal, Alissa Wehmueller. Anyone that has met Alissa through her involvement in IIDA, Kansas City Design Week, the Mayor’s Challenge Cabinet or her many other community activities know firsthand the passion she has for Kansas City.

Where does her love of this fine city come from? We asked Alissa.

You’re not from KC originally – what has kept you here?
Marrying a handsome KC native! Honestly, when I moved here I didn’t necessarily know if it was a long-term decision. But the growth and changes that have happened in this community in the last decade have been remarkable to see and be a part of. Kansas City is a great size – this balance between the amenities of a large city and the values of a small town. I believe your happiness in a place depends on what you put into it.

Who is a KC leader you admire?
Mayor Sly James! He’s brought an approachability and energy to City Hall that’s really special. I’ve seen him crash a table of designers at happy hour and have a quiet breakfast with friends at Union Station early in the morning – he’s present. I find myself bragging about how cool our mayor is to people outside Kansas City (not cool – frosty!) This has to be a fun time to be leading Kansas City, I’m sure it’s very hard work but I hope he’s enjoying it.

Why did you want to join the Centurions program?  
As my husband and I deepen our roots here, through our home, our careers and our family, I want this city to thrive and I feel a responsibility to contribute. I feel really lucky to be part of an industry that literally gets to build our community – create buildings and spaces for the people working, learning and playing here. I want to be educated and informed about the city, our needs, challenges and goals. I’m looking to Centurions to learn the best way to get engaged with organizations in a valuable way – I don’t want to fill a seat on a board to keep a chair warm, I want to help.

What do you hope to gain from the program?
Centurions has been tagged a ‘Master’s degree in Kansas City’, I like thinking of it that way. Everyone I know that has participated in the program has been very honest – it’s a big time commitment and a lot of work – but they’ve also said it’s one of the most rewarding things they’ve done personally and professionally.

Any advice for fellow transplants to KC?
Be present in the city – attend new events, get out to Kauffman, wake up early and get to the farmer’s market, wander around the plaza, get to know your neighbors. Bloom where you’re planted.

From all of us at Helix, congratulations and cheers, Alissa!

 


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