Browsing Thought Leadership

Missouri State University Historic Renovation Merges Past and Present

For many, fall means back to school, but for Missouri State University, it also marks the beginning of construction on Hill Hall’s renovation.

At 92 years old, Hill Hall is one of the three original buildings on the campus’s historic quadrangle. Originally completed in 1924, the building carries a tremendous amount of history within its walls. Designed by President Clyde M. Hill, the Education Building is one of the most-widely copied designs in the United States.

From its early days as the Education Building to today, the exterior has stood the test of time. However, like most historic buildings, the interior environment no longer serves the university’s modern needs. Missouri State University knew they wanted a space that was flexible, reflected the building’s history, improved accessibility and created departmental adjacencies. Helix Architecture + Design was hired to assist the university with renovating this important structure.

Hill Hall is used by the College of Education and the Department of Psychology. Spaces for the multiple user groups were not adjacent to one another, but spread throughout the building, which made wayfinding and creating a true home-base for students a challenge. To ensure the renovated layout was easier to navigate, the Helix team worked with all user groups to develop a clear program for the space. They improved wayfinding throughout by increasing transparency, providing places for signage, locating core elements in the same location on each floor and improving departmental adjacencies. The new signage provided opportunities to highlight each group’s identity as well.

One of the biggest challenges that came with renovating the space was improving accessibility. The existing building did not provide a clear path for all building users, which made getting to and from class difficult. Creating an accessible route required connecting the entrances on the first floors with a series of ramps, but this key change will make the first floor area more open, connected, inviting and accessible for all visitors.

Both the School of Education and the Department of Psychology also wanted to make the building more student-centric. The existing building offered very few places for students to gather, study, relax or socialize. The Helix team was able to create a specific space for this, playfully located in an old pool that had been converted into a storage areaand was underutilized for decades. The new plans include a lounge space, computer labs and small study rooms. This space greatly enhances the building by allowing students to gather outside of the classroom to study, collaborate and better utilize technology resources.

Faculty also wanted to make their offices more welcoming and conducive to meeting with students. This meant creating places that were easier to find and more approachable. To ensure the completed space can evolve along with faculty needs, the new offices allow for growth and change, without focusing on hierarchy. Classrooms also provide flexibility for faculty to modify the rooms as pedagogy and technology continually evolves.

Preserving the historical elements of Hill Hall was important to the entire team. The original central circulation stair that connects the floors was maintained, along with the original terrazzo floors in many areas.

With construction underway, Hill Hall will offer new benefits to students and faculty just in time for the 2018 school year. Improved accessibility, the addition of social/study spaces and the reorganized layout deliver a student-centric design, while still honoring the building’s historic past.


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.

Trozzolo Communications

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.

AMU

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.”


Helix + KCU at SCUP

Helix Architecture + Design and Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences (KCU) will be presenting the transformational renovation of Weaver Auditorium into the university’s new Academic Center at the SCUP 2016 North Central Symposium on April 27th.

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Program: RePurpose / ReEngergize – Creating a New Academic Center at KCU

Every higher education institution is dealing with the challenges of having existing buildings that are not designed to accommodate the way that millennials (and Gen Z following them) want to learn and connect with their peers. Because of this, many of these buildings are substantially underutilized.

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The Academic Center at KCU took an existing building with a large 1,500-seat auditorium and transformed it into a state-of-the-art learning facility and hub for student activity. The design team developed the innovative concept of stacking two lecture halls within the footprint of the existing auditorium.

The lobby and back-of-house auditorium spaces were converted into flexible student break-out and study rooms. This resourceful solution saved nearly a third of what it might otherwise cost to build a new facility and achieved LEED Silver Certification due in part to repurposing of 90% of the materials from the site’s previous building, Weaver Auditorium.

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The project was one of multiple identified in the University’s master plan, which was initiated in 2012. The design principles expressed in this master plan are based on a qualitative approach that synthesizes interviews, the aspirations and the goals of KCU with a critical assessment of their current space planning needs.

SPEAKERS:

Helix principal Reeves Wiedeman and project architect Miranda Groth will be co-presenting alongside KCU CFO/CEO Joe Massman and Director of Capital Projects, Tim Saxe on the success.

Reeves Wideman + Miranda Groth

Reeves W. Wiedeman, FAIA
Founding Principal
Helix Architecture + Design

As a founding principal of Helix, Reeves Wiedeman has been a driving force behind the firm’s success across a diverse, award-winning portfolio of work that spans academic, civic, cultural, workplace, hospitality and residential markets. As a market leader for Helix’s higher education clients, Reeves has led all of the firm’s projects for KCU as well as other academic institutions throughout the region. Reeves is an alumnus of the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design. His commitment to design excellence and advancement of the profession is evident in his continued involvement with the American Institute of Architects and his selection for Fellowship Status.

Miranda Groth, AIA, LEED AP
Project Manager
Helix Architecture + Design

During her career at Helix, Miranda has managed nearly 150,000 square feet of projects for Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, including the complex adaptive reuse of Weaver Auditorium into the new KCU Academic Center. The project recently received an AIA Central State Design Excellence Award for its ingenuity in repurposing an underutilized structure into an educational hub on the KCU campus. Her methodical project management approach has consistently resulted in her projects being completed under budget and within schedule. Miranda has a Master of Architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Joe Massman and Tim Saxe

Joe Massman, MBA
Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer
Kansas City University of Medicine & Biosciences

Joe Massman is chief financial officer (CFO) and chief operating officer at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, where he is responsible for most of its non-academic functions including finance, human resources, compliance, information technology, facilities and campus operations. Prior to joining the field of higher education, Joe was the founder and CEO of the ETF Store, a retail investment advisory firm. Previously, he served as CFO at Freightquote.com and held other senior financial positions with Express.com in Los Angeles, Viacom, Inc., in New York, and KPMG LLP in Kansas City. Joe earned a bachelor of business administration from the University of Notre Dame and a master of business administration from New York University.

Tim Saxe, PE
Director of Capital Projects
Kansas City University of Medicine & Biosciences

Tim provides leadership for the planning, design, construction, and financial performance of capital improvement projects for the University.  Prior to his role at KCU, Tim enjoyed a diverse 15-year career in both design, as an architect and structural engineer at HNTB, and then in construction management, as Project Manager and Knowledge Manager at JE Dunn Construction.  A majority of Tim’s experience is on large scale projects on University campuses.  Tim graduated from the Missouri University of Science & Technology with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and completed graduate studies in Architectural Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University.

JOIN US!

We’d love to see you at the SCUP 2016 North Central Symposium in Omaha, NE. The conference takes place on April 27th, so register soon! 


14 July, 2015 | Thought Leadership

Noteworthy at Neocon | Andie’s Top Five

For Helix’s interior designers, summer typically includes a quick trip to Chicago for the industry’s largest convention, Neocon. Held at the Merchandise Mart, the event is attended by 50,000 architecture and design professionals from around the world. Many of the large manufacturers we work with regularly have large showrooms, reinventing themselves each year for Neocon to show off their latest products. Each year we leave inspired by the latest products and trends. Here are a few favorite takeaways from this year….

1. Patricia Urquiola
Hands-down the most memorable part of Neocon 2015 (other than the torrential rain) was attending the keynote lecture of international star designer and architect, Patricia Urquiola. She is a passionate, charismatic, innovative force of nature. Her work is experiential; the objects and spaces she creates are sensitive to the emotional and mental needs of humans while being beautiful, playful, and immersive. She is prolific, designing dozens of new pieces with her various collaborators this year alone. And she deals great advice: “Only work with people you like” and “Get out of your comfort zone”, to name a few. Above all else, she is an exemplary role model for young women, working moms in particular. She has found a way to balance a brilliant career with a strong home life by building her design studio and residence in the same space. See photos HERE. Want more eye candy? Take a look at her book, Time to Make a Book, or the Haworth showroom she designed. I’m in love!

2. Wellness
Wellness is center-stage in the design world now. Similar to the growing prominence of sustainability over the past decade, designers, researchers, and health advocates alike are beginning to realize that the well-being of individuals, communities, businesses, and the environment are all inextricably linked. There are now design guidelines and data galore to support the value of investing in wellness. I attended a fire-in-the-seat-of-your-pants sort of presentation called Ethonomics: Design for Health & Well-being, that took a look at how our built environment (and design decisions) can affect cities and communities at the macro level, workplace culture and business vitality and the building level, down to the mental, emotional, and physical health of the individual at the micro level. Not only should our spaces be beautiful and functional, they should be restorative and supportive too! Check out these great resources for more information:

Teknion – The Rise of Ethonomics
The Well Building Standard
New York City Active Design Guidelines – promoting physical activity and health in design
The 1% – Strengthening Nonprofits through design

3.  Blurring lines between home & work
One of our favorite retail home furnishing brands, West Elm Workspace has launched a commercial line of office furniture in collaboration with Inscape.  It’s hard to say what sort of market impact this will have, but as the trend of blending workplace and home continues, this emerging development makes a lot of sense. The new line includes four collections: Mid-Century, Modern, Industrial, and Contemporary. The Contemporary collection is most similar to what most other office furniture companies offer; the Mid-Century and Modern collections offer the warmth of rich wood tones with stream-lined design; and the Industrial is the most original, taking the charm of an industrial 100-year old warehouse and translating it into plain sawn oak with steel frame.

4. Vitra’s Flexible workplace
Three times a day Vitra staff transformed the showroom in choreographed rhythm, literally, as they dance partied the furniture into various configurations to support education, work, and hospitality settings. On top of the energetic blast of beats pulsing through the space, they also had funky fresh usable furniture, a groovy analog adjustable height plywood workstation, and enough real live greens around every bend, making this fairly basic, windowless showroom electric with good vibes. Always an inspiration! See the beautiful showroom HERE.

5. Sophisticated palettes with a human touch
The most stunning showrooms (in my opinion of course) were simple, stately, and dramatic in their elegance. Davis and Coalesse embodied the restorative, calming traits of designing for wellness with warm wood, clean stone, nubby neutrals, and the dramatic impact of black and white with minimal color accents. In the past, it’s been white showrooms with colors that punch you in the face every time you turn a corner. This year, the design spoke for itself, was gentle and thoughtful, and created space in your brain for things other than stimulation overload.

 

Open PhotoChicago (pre-torrential rain)  |  home of Neocon Chicago (pre-torrential rain) | home of Neocon
Patricia Urquiola, Neocon 2015 Keynote Speaker Patricia Urquiola, Neocon 2015 Keynote Speaker
Open PhotoQuote from Quote from "Ethonomics: Design for Health & Well-being" presentation
West Elm Workspace - Industrial Collection West Elm Workspace - Industrial Collection
Vitra's showroom transformation performance crew Vitra's showroom transformation performance crew
Open PhotoDetail shot of the Detail shot of the "Tix" bench at the Davis showroom

15 January, 2013 | Leadership, Thought Leadership

Ada Louis Huxtable: The Impact of a Pen on Architecture

Last week, the very influential Architectural critic Ada Louise Huxtable passed away at the age of 91.  As an Architecture Critic in New York City, Ms. Huxtable offered insight into the relationship between architecture and human nature. She was most notably known for “celebrating buildings that respected human dignity and civic history — and memorably scalding those that did not”.  Her impact on the world of architecture will not be forgotten.

Ada Louise Huxtable was the first person to win the Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Criticism in 1970.

Click photo for link to Ms. Huxtable's bio in the NYTimes. Click photo for link to Ms. Huxtable's bio in the NYTimes.

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


Historic O.H. Dean Building Renovation Incorporates Geothermal Technology

Construction continues on the renovation of the historic O.H. Dean building at 3635 Main Street. The Reeves-Wiedeman Company purchased the building and is making it their new headquarters. It’s a really great thing to see a 125 year old company move its headquarters back into KC’s urban core, where it was started.

These construction progress photos show an element of the building we are very excited about; those black tubes you see sticking out of the ground are actually the water loops that the building will use to heat and cool itself. By taking advantage of the constant ground temperature of 55-57 degrees, the building’s mechanical system will be super energy efficient. In all, 24 wells are spaced along the rear parking lot of the building, and each well is 300 feet deep! Energy savings will offset the added capital costs of this system in 5 years; after which the savings keep accumulating. When your intention is to buy a building and hold it long term, ground source heat pump systems are the way to go. And, the energy tax credits available today can make the payback even shorter.


Newly Released Vitagraph Tops the Box Office Charts

As Shirley Helzberg’s third big production in 10 years, the historic Vitagraph Film Exchange Building at 17th and Wyandotte proved to be her most challenging. Fighting through city reviews, permits, and TIF financing approval, Shirley persevered to create a true work of art in Crossroads. The call sheet included a utility pole disappearing act, new set lighting, and a long scene where a very cool parking garage just seemed to emerge from nowhere!

This is not the Vitagraph’s debut appearance. It has been associated with the film industry for years as a Warner Bros. warehouse/distribution facility. Today, however, the building’s leading anchor tenant role will be played by the Kansas City Symphony. Helix’s Trudy Faulkner and Jay Tomlinson who have worked with Shirley on prior productions will once again be added to the credits of another successful preservation of Kansas City history.

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