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1515 Walnut: Sustainable Urban Living

For the past 30 years, Helix co-founder Jay Tomlinson has made a tremendous impact on the revival of Downtown Kansas City. As an architect, Jay has salvaged, restored, renovated, and reconstructed over 50 buildings in the Downtown and Crossroads neighborhoods. Many of these structures exist as cultural icons within the cityscape. Community staples like the Mainstreet Theatre, the Midland Theatre, the College Basketball Experience, and Webster House, just to name a few, have helped to rejuvenate the urban core and attract visitors as well as locals to the area.

At 1515, Jay’s first personal development seeks to infuse the area with one crucial component, the people necessary to support and sustain the existing dynamic scene that is Downtown Kansas City. The redevelopment of the historic building will include two retail office unites on the first level, six urban lofts on the second level, a third story penthouse addition for him and his wife Leslie. The project will be net zero with all electrical needs being met by a solar array installed on the rooftop.

With all that he has put into Kansas City professionally, it’s only natural that he and his wife would continue support the growth of the urban core in their personal endeavors. Living in the heart of the city supports the cultural, economic and community development that continues to revitalize the area.

For more information on the project, please follow the links below:

KC Business Journal: Pia Abatement
KC Star: Housing Redevelopment Projects

Open PhotoJay and Leslie Tomlinson “Urban Pioneers” in front of 1515 Walnut. Jay and Leslie Tomlinson “Urban Pioneers” in front of 1515 Walnut.
Open PhotoRendering of the renovated residence. Rendering of the renovated residence.

6 December, 2012 | New Construction

Under Construction: Milburn Country Club, part III

Projects like the Milburn Country Club present a special challenge. On the projects where there are only a few owners, we are able to bring the client in every step of the way to see progress first hand. But for Milburn, where there are over one hundred invested party members, we had to do things a little differently.

Last weekend we had the second of the two scheduled walkthroughs of Milburn. The Helix design team hosted hourly tours from 10am to 4pm. During these tours we guided the country club members through the space, explaining design decisions and answering any questions along the way.

The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Scott, Intern Architect on the Helix design team said:

The main feedback I got was on the shaping of the spaces and the interest was drawn in particular to the clean detailing of the ceilings at this stage. The exterior of the building was well received and many comments with regards to a good scale and overall comfort level of the future inhabitants. […]  Other areas of excitement include our homage to their history through our use of building materials, specifically the charred wood (also known as Shu Sugi Ban) that sheathes the signature room as well as the careful consideration the design team put into the siting of the building. Most country clubhouses are set further back from the golf course. In this case, we altered the architecture of the golf course in order to push the building further in, and bring the course up around the project. This gives us magnificent opportunity to capture the beauty of the course from various interior spaces.

How the Shu Sugi Ban was made a few weeks ago:


More images of the tour:


It was such a nice day out that people were golfing – in shorts. In December.

Previous posts on Milburn here and here.

KCPD East Patrol Campus

The Kansas City Police Department East Patrol division is committed to having a positive influence on the community starting from the design of their new campus. The East Patrol Campus—comprised of a police station, a multi-purpose building, a crime lab, and a property and evidence repository—will be located on 27th and Prospect, right in the middle of where they currently receive the most calls for service.

Project officials have specifically sought out Section 3 businesses to work with and the project will provide employment and training opportunities for low income residents during the estimated 24 months of construction. The whole design and decision making process has been made accessible and transparent to the community through public meetings, the East Patrol website, and the bimonthly newsletter. These resources are a wonderful way to see how, where, and why your tax dollars are being spent. They also serve to showcase the design process at Helix and demonstrate how every design decision, from location to design partnership to material usage, is made consciously.

Helix Annual Summer Staff Meeting

Recently, the Helix staff took a break from the office for the afternoon and traveled to the east side of Kansas City.  While typically the primary purpose for an annual meeting is to update staff on the status of the company, this outing was so much more.

After a delicious southern style lunch at Papa Lew’s, the staff viewed 3 project sites.  The first was the Kansas City University of Medicine and Bio-sciences Campus which is working with Helix to develop a new master plan for the future direction of the school.  The second, Highland Place Apartments offer a refresh to housing options in a neighborhood that has seen neglect in the past.  Finally, Helix viewed the future site of the East Police Patrol Campus.  The project will consist of a state-of-the-art Crime Lab, and will be situated 27th & Prospect, the heart of a neighborhood with one of the highest crime rates in the nation.

After this introduction to the area, the Helix staff settled in at the historic Mutual Musicians Foundation where Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and Police Commissioner Alvin Brooks spoke about the history of the East Side and the 27th & Prospect neighborhood.

Reeves Weideman and Commissioner Brooks

Following a brief update on the status of Helix itself, staffers were able to enjoy the Piano styling of Kansas City Jazz Legend Luqman Hamza, who, at 80 years old, also shared a few of his experiences and thoughts about the East Side.

Luqman Hamza, Jazz Legend

From there, the staff ventured to 18th and vine to experience the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the American Jazz Museum, and finish the day with a drink at the at the 9th Inning Sports Bar.  Overall, the annual summer meeting offered the staff a glimpse into an often overlooked cultural center.

Jason Parson and Congressman Cleaver

Thank you to Jason Parson of Parson & Associates (Grandson of the great Jay McShann) for organizing such an amazing and enlightening afternoon.  Helix is thrilled to be a part of a community with such a rich history and promising future.

Helix Staff

Videographer: Ernes Echols

Photographer: Lynn Hinkle

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