Browsing Press

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.

Social

“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.


5 January, 2016 | Press

2015 Year in Review

It’s been a great year to be a Kansas Citian. We are incredibly proud of the milestones that our city, our clients, our projects and our staff have accomplished over the last year. Here’s a peek at some of the highlights….
Capture

We can’t wait to see what 2016 has is store!

 


Helix | HGA Team are Awarded UMKC Conservatory Project!

We are honored and excited to be selected with HGA to create a new home for the UMKC Downtown Conservatory of Music and Dance in the Kansas City Crossroads.  This is a monumental time for UMKC and the Kansas City community, and we are very eager to collaborate with all on this landmark project.  The design charrette process that took us to this point was intensive and many schemes for the building were explored, including the rendering shown at the right.

 

 

 

Open PhotoHelix welcomes UMKC to the KC Crossroads! Helix welcomes UMKC to the KC Crossroads!
Open PhotoPictured here is one of the options explored during the design charrette process. Pictured here is one of the options explored during the design charrette process.

18 February, 2013 | Press, Random peek into Helix

Jay Tomlinson Receives Fellowship from AIA

Almost every action Jay Tomlinson has taken over his 30-year career has been oriented around creating a vibrant urban core—whether renovating historic structures or adding new buildings to the landscape.

Since he watched construction workers slip the keystone into the Saint Louis Arch as a young child, Jay has sustained the conviction that well-designed structures lead to more vibrant people and places.

A founding principal of Helix Architecture + Design, Jay built his practice around the question: Is it good for the city? He has engaged in all forms of community building—physical, economic, and cultural to make his city a better place.

Toward this goal, Jay found innovative ways to make preservation work financially viable and environmentally sustainable. He assumed leadership positions in city government to make sure it supports and rewards positive development. And he created and/or led organizations—the Urban Society of Kansas City, the Charlotte Street Foundation, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum Friends of Art—to enrich the fabric of urban life.

Open PhotoAn architectural alchemist, Jay Tomlinson—through his practice, civic service, and arts outreach—brought together architects, artists, entrepreneurs, and government in an explosion of vitality, propelling the largest urban renewal effort in Kansas City history. An architectural alchemist, Jay Tomlinson—through his practice, civic service, and arts outreach—brought together architects, artists, entrepreneurs, and government in an explosion of vitality, propelling the largest urban renewal effort in Kansas City history.
Open Photo

Developments of Distinction

Congratulations to MO Bank, 18Broadway, Legoland/Sea Life, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and Posty Cards for the honor of receiving the Urban Land Institute of Kansas City‘s Developments of Distinction Awards and to Kay Barnes and Carol Marinovich for receiving Lifetime Achievement Awards. The award ceremony will be November 13th, 2012.

Urban Land Institute – Developments of Distinction Awards 2012 from Mike Varel on Vimeo.


3 September, 2010 | Press, Recognition

Ingrams Knows…

If you haven’t gotten the impression yet that Helix is a pretty stellar design firm in Kansas City, we have a little more evidence to try to convince you:

In the August 2010 issue of Ingrams, a Kansas City business magazine, Helix was listed as one of the best Architectural/Design firms in town. Ingrams says: “Silver honors go to Helix Design Group, small of staff but big of vision…” and while they didn’t get our name right (we like Helix but if you insist we also go by Helix Architecture + Design), we agree with their sentiment. A couple of other firms were mentioned in the blurb, but if you’re really interested to see who they are you’ll have to check out the article in Ingrams (hey – this is our blog after all).

As a local design firm, Helix takes pride not only in the end product, but in the service we provide our clients throughout the entire process. Inspiration and design are difficult things to harness and get right, which is why design professionals are still marketable and invaluable even in the digital age. Beyond all the clever details and hip design we unleash, we’re most proud of our ability to serve our clients. What more can you ask for?


Helix Project Featured in Magazine For Outstanding Lighting Design

Keep your eyes open for the July/Aug issue of Architectural Lighting Magazine. Helix’s design for the Power & Light Utility Bridge won Commendable Achievement in this year’s Light and Architecture Design Awards. The bridge was one of only eleven projects chosen from a pool of over eighty entries to be featured based on outstanding lighting design and innovative solutions.


Design Work Begins on The Museum of Prairiefire

The mixed-use Prairiefire at Lionsgate development will be located in Overland Park along 135th Street

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City

Helix has begun schematic design on The Museum at Prairiefire which will serve as a cultural landmark in Southern Johnson County. What is unique about this museum? It will house the first and only remote branch of New York’s famous American Natural History Museum (featured in the film A Night at the Museum). The American Natural History Museum will be displaying 20 popular and highly acclaimed traveling exhibits in our area over a ten year period. Look forward to visiting our city’s newest cultural landmark while visiting the other attractions in development for Prairiefire at Lionsgate on 119th between Nall and Lamar. www.celebrateprairiefire.com


3 June, 2010 | Press, Uncategorized

Helix’s Most EXPLOSIVE News Yet!!!

A bomb scare in the alley behind Helix rocked our world today. Upon hearing a loud explosion, Helix’s Lora Everett looked out the window to see a man emerge from a cloud of smoke and throw a mysterious black box into a nearby clothing donation box. The firetrucks, police, and a bomb squad arrived to investigate. As of this posting, a remote controlled robot is working on the situation. Look for our star witness, Lora, on tonight’s news.


1 of 212