Browsing New Construction

19 June, 2018 | Art, Community, New Construction

Artwork Integrates Community into KCPD Leon Mercer Jordan Campus

How do you translate traditional quilt-work into a building facade? Collaborating with renowned fabric artist Sonie Joi Thompson-Ruffin was one of the most rewarding aspects of our work at the KCPD Leon Mercer Jordan Campus, home of the East Patrol and Regional Crime Lab.

As part of KC’s long-standing One Percent for Art Program, and the larger goal of creating a police station where the neighboring community felt welcome, the Helix team collaborated with Sonie to design and install an architectural interpretation of her African American quilt-work. From here, Community Dignity and iNeema were created.

Community Dignity represents the connection between the police and the neighboring community, measuring 30-feet by 16.5-feet. While iNeema, meaning Grace in Swahili, offers a message of inner peace, measuring at 42-feet by 11-feet.

Once the final designs were selected, our design team began translating Sonié’s concepts in architectural terms, in this case glazed brick. Our team then developed construction documents, which were later used by masons to build each quilt pattern. These brick and mortar quilts are prominently displayed at the entrances of both the police station and crime lab, connecting the police to the community they serve each day.

Completed project photography by Aaron Dougherty.


Kansas City University Breaks Ground on New Center for Medical Education Innovation

Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences (KCU), one of the top 10 educators of physicians in the U.S., broke ground this morning on a new state-of-the-art Center for Medical Education Innovation (CMEI). Designed through a partnership between Helix Architecture + Design and CO Architects, the 56,000-square-foot facility will provide the latest in virtual reality, haptic technology and simulated clinical experiences for educating the next generation of physicians and health sciences professionals.

The $33 million facility will be built on four levels and will feature multifunctional “future-proof” space that will allow for changes and emerging technologies in the coming years. It will also serve as a resource for students and health care professionals throughout the region, offering opportunities for continuing medical education, inter-professional education and active research in academic collaboration.

The building will feature standardized patient rooms (where trained actors play the role of patients), high-fidelity simulation rooms (where medical robots display a variety of disease processes), a skills simulation deck that utilizes the latest in virtual reality and haptic technologies, and a simulation command center. It will also include nearly 13,000 square feet of classroom space and an advanced physical diagnosis and Osteopathic Manipulation Medicine.

“The CMEI will be much more than a building. It will redefine our campus, our neighborhood and the Kansas City medical community, just as the Center’s latest technology will redefine medical education,” commented Marc B. Hahn, DO, president and CEO of KCU. “Our students will have the opportunity to practice over and over in virtual scenarios until they are confident and prepared when it comes time to treat actual patients, thus reducing medical errors and improving health outcomes for the communities we serve.”

The University has collaborated with the city of Kansas City, Missouri, to build the CMEI center adjacent to the Paseo Gateway project, which will reconfigure the intersection of The Paseo and Independence Avenue to improve safety and traffic flow, as well as reestablish a grand entrance to the Northeast neighborhood.

The construction of the Center for Medical Education Innovation is possible in part because of a $1 million challenge grant from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation, a $1 million grant from William T. Kemper Foundation, and lead gifts from Sunderland Foundation, J. E. Dunn Construction Company, Victor E. Speas Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee, and Jack and Glenna Wylie Foundation. JE Dunn will serve as the general contractor for construction.

We are thrilled to continue our work with Kansas City University and our design partners at CO Architects to create a facility that puts the university on the forefront of health education.

Virtual tours are available online of the forum, simulation deck, standardized patient lounge and OMM loft.


16 May, 2018 | Design, New Construction

New Healthcare Concept Reimagines Patient Care in Kansas City

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC)  recently launched a new, innovative offering, Spira Care, which combines health insurance with a primary care experience. The first of its kind in the Kansas City market, Spira Care Centers, were designed to create an atmosphere of hospitality, while providing easy access to comprehensive primary care services for members, such as routine preventative care, behavioral health services, lab draws, X-rays and more, with no additional cost for procedures received at the Care Centers.

Spira Care started as an exploratory research and innovation project in early 2016. When asked about the genesis of the project, Jason Spacek, Blue KC Chief Innovation Officer shared with Forbes:

“We started with a very simple premise, ‘what if we could start all over as a health insurer?’ We looked at the complexities of the industry and the multiple parties involved and began to explore whether a “fresh start” could be a viable option. As we thought about this notion of ‘starting fresh,’ we initially focused our attention on the Millennial segment, as they were coming of age as the future consumers of healthcare. We thought that their needs and wants should be our focus if we were truly going to entertain the idea of beginning anew.”Blue KC used ethnography, focus groups and qualitative research to create a plan for Spira Care. Through the process, they identified six, key “design sprints,” like arrival, check-in and seeing the doctor. Using the data collected, Helix collaborated with Blue KC, integrated marketing agency, Barkley,  and healthcare architecture firm, Pulse Design Group to reimagine the patient experience. The project team also worked closely with customers, incorporating their feedback and using it to create the foundation of the Care Centers’ design.

In less than 24 months, those ideas have been translated into working Care Centers. The entry features bold welcoming graphics, a large bar-height reception, soft-seating lounge and coffee bar. Member experience and comfort were central to the design of the exam rooms, which include built-in bench seating and a small consultation area to discuss care with your provider. To truly welcome guests, the design team used materials and furniture not typically found in healthcare facilities.

Care Guide rooms, which are used for post-appointment conversations with a knowledgeable member of the Care Team, allow patients to coordinate further care, understand costs or review plan benefits. Other key spaces include provider and administrative workspace, conference and break rooms, and clinical support areas.

The first Spira Care Center opened in January 2018 with three more to follow by the end of the year. Photography by Michael Robinson.


16 January, 2018 | Design, New Construction, Workplace

Local Entrepreneurs Build Lasting Relationships and New Headquarters through HEMP Connection

When Duey Williams joined the Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program (HEMP) over 15 years ago, he was new to Kansas City and working to make the business he had just purchased, Skyline E3, a success. It was in this organization he met Jay Tomlinson, founding principal of Helix Architecture + Design. The three-year program, which offers mentoring and connections with fellow entrepreneurs, is known for helping set the foundation for lasting relationships.  

Williams credits long-term relationships, like those made through HEMP, for Skyline’s success. In fact, he said support from entrepreneurs helped the organization grow during those difficult years.

“HEMP is not a soliciting organization. However, entrepreneurs in the program support one another. People want to do business with people they know and trust, and HEMPers recommended my work outside of their own organizations. These connections were an important contributor to Skyline’s growth.”

Skyline E3’s revenue is now seven times what it was when Williams purchased the business in 2000. With their expanding size and market reach, they needed a physical space that could better accommodate their personnel and client growth, while showcasing their products and company values. When it came to finding an architect that could bring his vision to life, Williams looked to his HEMP connections. Skyline E3 hired Helix Architecture + Design to create a new, 53,000-square-foot headquarters that would provide a state-of-the-art showroom for clients and a modern workplace for employees.

“I like to do business with people I know and always wanted to work with Jay,” said Williams.  

In the design of their new headquarters, Skyline wanted to invigorate company culture, create a sales area for clients and have room for growth. Helix worked closely with the company’s leadership to define their goals and unique amenities they wanted to incorporate for clients and staff. An impressive entrance and lobby, community space and conference rooms which operated as show rooms were key aspects of their vision.

The showroom and office space within their new headquarters provides an open and relaxed sales environment for clients with ample room for the company’s large display options. The open office environment offers flexibility and encourages collaboration among Skyline E3’s growing team. Bright pops of color, branded graphics and a conference table that converts into a ping pong table convey the energy and values of the company. The warehouse storage that comprises half of their building provides ample room for growth as the company continues to expand.

Key spaces were designed to accommodate the company’s desire to expand client and community outreach. The prep and staging area allows Skyline to showcase work to clients visiting their facility. A seminar room is used for team meetings and is also available to other area businesses.

“It’s important to our company to support entrepreneurs. We offer seminars at our new headquarters that are designed to help businesses improve their ROI at tradeshows. It’s one of the ways we give back to the community for its continued support. Having a newly designed facility helps make these initiatives possible,” said Williams.

Continuing to foster local entrepreneurs has been important to both Williams and Tomlinson throughout their careers. Since graduating from the HEMP class of 2001, Tomlinson has remained active in the organization and currently serves as a HEMP fellow.

“HEMP is a key component of Kansas City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Tomlinson. “The program offers an objective sounding board for firm leaders that is invaluable.”  

If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner interested in learning more about how you can benefit from the program, visit the HEMP KC website.

Photography by Bob Greenspan and event photos courtesy of Skyline E3


12 December, 2017 | Academic, Art, New Construction

KCAI Chooses Helix Architecture + Design to Design Student Living Center

From left to right: Alissa Wehmueller, Tony Jones, Doug Stockman, Christopher Carvell.

The Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) announced today that they have chosen Helix to design a new 250-bed student living center and dining hall to be built on campus starting next year. The opportunity to construct a new hall of residence is possible thanks to a $10 million lead gift by an anonymous donor, given through the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation earlier this year.

For the KCAI student housing project, Helix partnered with consulting architect, Christopher Carvell Architects of Denver, Colo. Carvell has developed nationally recognized expertise in the design of “Next Generation” student life facilities.

This is a complicated project that includes not only the new 250-bed living center but also contemporary dining that will be open to the public and a large new terraced garden. “Following interviews with several firms, Helix presented a sophisticated plan on how to create a relationship between the new student living center, the new garden space and our current student housing building. The result will be a thoughtful design that takes into consideration the needs of our students, while respecting our historic Rockhill and Southmoreland neighborhoods, and advancing the college’s extensive landscape plan,” said Tony Jones, The Nerman Family President.  

Reeves Wiedeman, founding principal with Helix Architecture + Design said, “KCAI’s new student housing project will be a beacon for attracting talent to the campus and our city. It is an honor to work alongside one of the country’s leading arts education institutions to redefine the student housing experience and create a space that nurtures the creativity of these young artists.”

KCAI is a private, independent four-year college of art and design awarding the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with 13 studio majors. KCAI also offers continuing education courses. Founded in 1885, the college is Kansas City’s oldest arts organization.
Helix has worked with KCAI previously on the renovation of the Richard J. Stern Ceramics Building. We are thrilled to continue our relationship on this transformative project for incoming students and the campus.


6 December, 2017 | Design, New Construction, Workplace

Building Culture & Value Through Cohesive Real Estate Design

Olsson Associates

When Helix principal Erika Moody started working with Olsson Associates (Olsson) five years ago, the growing company was on track to reach a new milestone – 1,000 employees. With continued growth anticipated, they wanted to create a workplace environment that reinforced their culture in a cohesive manner as they charted their course forward.

Today, Olsson has more than exceeded those expectations. With offices across the Midwest and Southwest, they are continuing to expand their team and diversify their engineering services. Throughout this expansion, Erika has been a strategic partner to the firm overseeing the design of each of their offices.

The first project completed was the design of Olsson’s headquarters in Lincoln, Nebraska’s historic Haymarket District. The new 80,000-square-feet office building wraps around a central courtyard that provides daylight and views throughout the building, creating layers of interest both inside and out. The scope of work included programming, core and shell design, as well as interior architecture, furniture selection/procurement and custom furniture design.

Since that time, Helix has partnered with Olsson on the design of fourteen additional office projects. The goal has been to showcase their brand and the unique identity of each office, while standardizing workstations, meeting places and gathering spaces. Olsson CEO Brad Strittmatter shared, “We return to Helix because they really understand how to create great spaces where our employees thrive. They keep our offices on the forefront of our industry – while diligently maintaining our project budget.”

Olsson Associates

In each new office, there are a few commonalities. To make the greeting consistent from place to place, visitors encounter a simplified reception. The green from the Olsson logo is always incorporated in a small, but prominent way, and workstations have been streamlined throughout. As locations are updated, break rooms are also being transformed into inviting cafés.

To make these additions more seamless, the Helix team created a process for procuring furniture, implemented furniture and finish packages and aligned Olsson with vendors who can supply products to multiple offices. These practices have helped Olsson buy items at a discounted rate through corporate contracts, as opposed to purchasing pieces one-off at a premium.

Although Olsson was looking for a unified identity, they continue to value the uniqueness of each office. Furniture and finish packages provide a range of choices to office leaders, and each location includes personalized elements, like a feature wall and custom artwork. These details allow local leadership to personalize their space without sacrificing efficiency.

While standards are in place, the design team continues to bring forward new ideas and test concepts, like taller work tables or customized storage for large drawings, at a single location. This allows both parties to see how items perform on a smaller scale before rolling it out to each of their offices.

Establishing an internal representative and single design firm to lead every project has resulted in time and cost savings for Olsson. Designers can quickly supply critical items, like floor plans and finish schedules, while Olsson’s representative ensures projects are aligned with the budget and design standards. With less time spent managing each effort and ensuring an exceptional design for their spaces, Olsson Associates can focus on what matters most – providing great design experiences for their clients.

Photography by Michael Robinson.


26 September, 2017 | Multi-family, New Construction

63 Oak Townhouses Add to Brookside East Revitalization

In less than five years the 63rd Street corridor just east of downtown Brookside has undergone a rapid revitalization. Just four years ago, all of the commercial space along the north side of the four-block stretch of 63rd Street between Oak Street and Holmes Road and 85 percent of the space on the south side was vacant.

Now the empty buildings and lots are nearly filled with businesses and residents.

One of the prominent additions to the neighborhood is 63 Oak, a collection of five luxury townhouses designed by Helix Architecture + Design for UC-B Properties. The design and amenities offer high-end, low maintenance living in the East Brookside neighborhood. Each three-level, 1,950-square-feet townhome features three bedrooms, three and a half baths, a two-car garage, and three private outdoor spaces.

The first level houses the main entry, garage and a flexible living space with floor-to-ceiling windows that opens onto a sunken patio. The second floor features the main living spaces, including a modern, open kitchen, dining and living area with two balconies that makes it an ideal environment for entertaining. Two large bedrooms, each with a private bath are located on the third floor, offering privacy and separation from the rest of the living space.

With local shops and restaurants, such as the Unbakery and Juicery, Heirloom Bakery & Hearth, Oak 63, Hamilton, and Golden & Pine home furnishings, popping up all along the block, the Brookside East neighborhood is quickly becoming a sought after destination for residents and businesses alike.

The project was a recipient of a Economic Development Council of KC 2017 Cornerstone Award.

You can learn more about the units available on UC-B Properties website. Photography by Bob Greenspan


3 August, 2017 | Design, New Construction, Renovation

Historic Farmhouse Transformed into Children’s Center for Synergy Services

What began with the donation of a nearly 100-year-old farmhouse on a wooded six-acre site by Judge Stephen Pratt is now a safe, welcoming space that allows Synergy Services to double the number of children they serve.

Synergy Services is a Kansas City non-profit that helps victims of family violence find the safety, support, strength and skills needed to change their lives. They were forced to turn away 300 children from their SafeHaven women’s shelter last year due to lack of space. The donation from Judge Pratt allowed Synergy to create a dedicated space for children that feels warm, welcoming and avoids the institutional feel that most temporary foster facilities have.

The nearly 100-year-old farmhouse was repurposed to house counseling rooms, a therapeutic art room and a living room space and a 7,500 sq. ft. addition includes a dining room, bathrooms, bedrooms and a large open multi-purpose playroom with adjacent playground. The design of the addition builds off the wooded site to create an environment that is reminiscent of a camp or cabin. An abundance of natural light and views to the surrounding woods were integrated to draw the outdoor environment into the interior. Natural pine wood was used inside and out to further this concept and add a warmth to the overall space. 

In addition to creating an environment where children feel at home in a safe, healing place, the design team also wanted to make sure that the children felt at ease that this was a place they could play and enjoy. Details, such as the Charlie Harper wallpaper filled with animals in the dining room and durable walls and floors made of reclaimed wood from a gym floor in the playroom clearly communicate that this is a special place designed especially for them. Vibrant color was used playfully in key spaces but sparingly in others to allow the building to be a canvas for the children and their own art and personality.

The new building has been an overwhelming success for Synergy; executive director Dennis Meier shared, “Everybody that comes here just falls in love with it.”

As a non-profit, Synergy Services had a limited budget that the design team was conscious of in developing the overall concept and selection of low-maintenance materials, finishes and systems that would reduce operational costs long-term. Helix worked closely with JE Dunn Construction to deliver a building that is as efficient and functional as it is beautiful.

Helix principal Erika Moody has worked with Synergy Services for over 10 years. After working with them on the design of Synergy Services Youth Resiliency Center she was so inspired by the work they do that she joined their board. “Synergy is the last lifeline for so many in our community,” said Erika Moody. “The trauma that many of these children have experienced is unimaginable. I am proud to help them create a space that supports their mission and enables them to positively impact even more kids.”

The project has already been honored with numerous awards, including a Capstone Award from the Kansas City Business Journal in the Community Impact category and a silver award at the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Mid America Design Awards.

Photography by Michael Robinson.


3 November, 2016 | Art, New Construction

Kansas City Police Department Builds Community Through New Leon Mercer Jordan Campus

The Leon Mercer Jordan Campus, located at the corner of 27th and Prospect, serves as so much more than the East Patrol Division Station for Kansas City Police Department and the new Regional Crime Lab. The new campus, completed in spring 2016, is already having an impact for neighboring citizens by integrating spaces that foster relationships between KCPD and residents.

Leon Mercer Jordan Campus

The campus represents an unprecedented investment in the Third District of Kansas City, Missouri, which since it’s opening has encouraged further development in the neighborhood and made a difference in the lives of many. The East Patrol Division Station houses a large community room, computer access lab and gymnasium specifically designed for public use – the vision of Police Chief Darryl Forté.

“It’s not just a police station. It’s a place where people can gather — where they can do homework, play a game of basketball or have a neighborhood meeting in a safe and supportive environment.” Chief Forté told the Kansas City Star.

For one youth basketball team, that meant a dream come true. The team of 8th graders were able to move from an outdated half-court practice space into a brand new facility (not to mention a full-court all to themselves!) The community room is already being used in so many ways, most recently book club meetings and a veteran breakfast.

Gymnasium at Leon Mercer Jordan Campus

East Patrol Art in ArchitectureLeft: Sculpture by Des Moines, IA artist David Dahlquist features pottery thrown by local youths. Volunteers from the Kansas City Art Institute and the KC Clay Guild assisted the teens in creating the large thrown bowls. Right: “Community Dignity” glazed brick art installation by Sonie Joi Thompson-Ruffin.

The design also incorporated several art pieces, two of which are located at the entrances of both the East Patrol Division Station and the Crime Lab facilities. The installations are architectural interpretations of artwork created by local artist Sonie Joi Thompson-Ruffin. The pieces, called Community Dignity (shown above right) and iNeema (located on the Crime Lab building), are inspired by American and African culture. Helix worked with Mrs. Ruffin to incorporate her art into the detailing of two glazed masonry feature walls, creating a visual of “quilts” on the front porches of these two campus buildings.

The large stand-alone piece outside the main public entrance of East Patrol Division Station is a result of Kansas City’s One Percent for Art program; artist David Dahlquist involved local youths and neighbors in its creation (shown above left).

“It’s asking the community to be invested in it,” artist David Dahlquist said in a press release put out by ArtsTech – a nonprofit organization dedicated to bettering young people through arts and technical education. “The piece is about something peaceful, contemplative.”

20160425-dougherty-076-eastpatrol-sAbove: Large community room features a wooden wall made from trees harvested on the site of the building; the opposite wall displays a timeline highlighting the history of African-American police officers. The exhibit was designed by Dimensional Innovations.

Above: The public computer room is open to local schoolchildren, families and community members without internet access or computers at home. The lab features artwork by ArtsTech’s Aaron Sutton. Above: The public computer room is open to local schoolchildren, families and community members without internet access or computers at home. The lab features artwork by ArtsTech’s Aaron Sutton.

The new campus is anticipated to be a redevelopment catalyst for the Prospect Avenue Corridor and its surrounding neighborhoods. City Architect Eric Bosch said this unprecedented investment in the Third District of Kansas City and this neighborhood has already been reflected positively in other recent projects in the community area.

“The city is already working on a new grocery store just seven or eight blocks away, which the neighborhood never really had before,” Bosch stated in a post on KCPD’s SaferKC blog. “They’re also putting in an express bus line going right in front of the station, which will allow more connectivity to other public transportation throughout the city. The church next door to us is also expanding through the development of a community center, and it’s the timing of our facility that made that happen.”

KCPD Leon Mercer Jordan Campus

Leon Mercer Jordan Campus

Leon Mercer Jordan Campus

Another key aspect of the project is the way it improves efficiency for everyone who will use the facility, including police officers, employees and the general public.

“The old station was too small and the layout did not allow for the most effective operation,” Major Sharon Laningham, Construction Division of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department said on SaferKC.com. “We learned from nearly 20 years of experience of how police stations work. The new station is more efficient, officers move through their routines quickly and get out on the street faster. 

The state-of-the-art Regional Crime Lab and the Property Evidence Depository were meticulously programmed to allow for a more efficient working environment for lab teams and other crime lab staff too. The new Crime Lab, a collaboration between Helix and Wellner Architects, is also better located to collect crime scene evidence and be in closer proximity to the Courts, saving time and money for the KCPD. 

KCPD Leon Mercer Jordan Campus

“By combining several critical capital improvement projects on one campus, we achieve economies of scale and use the Public Safety Sales Tax dollars in the most prudent way possible,” said former Colonel Jerry Gallagher of the Kansas City Police Department.

The project is considered a successful model for achieving and exceeding the city’s goals for minority business participation throughout the planning, design and construction process. Helix along with the City of Kansas City, Missouri and joint venture contractors JE Dunn and Alexander Mechanical, were proud to exceed the minority business enterprise (MBE) and women business enterprise (WBE) goals.

The project surpassed these goals, achieving to date:

  • MBE/WBE participation for professional service contracts = 40%
  • MBE/WBE participation for construction services = 30%
  • Section 3 participation for construction services = 16.6%
  • Overall MBE/WBE/Section 3 participation on the East Patrol Crime Lab = more than 52%
  • Overall Section 3 New Hires = 101

 

It’s clear to see the significance of this project by the amount of recognition it’s receiving – a KCBJ Capstone Award and an EDC Cornerstone Award.

All photography by Aaron Dougherty.


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