Browsing Workplace

Corrigan Building Renovation Receives LEED Silver Designation from USGBC

The renovation of the historic Corrigan Building recently achieved the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification. Helix worked closely with co-developers Copaken Brooks and 3D Development to develop a design that preserves the historic character of the building while achieving their goals for a sustainability. The renovation of the Corrigan Building was the first phase of the larger Corrigan Station development.

The Corrigan Building was built in 1921 and is located prominently along the new Kansas City streetcar line at 19th & Walnut. The 10-story, 123,000-sq,-ft. building  houses nine stories of office space with one story of ground level retail. The client’s vision of rehabilitating this nearly 100-year-old building into modern, flexible workspace has resulted in a 100% leased building at completion, attracting tenants such as WeWork, Hollis & Miller and Holmes Murphy.

Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED is an ecology-oriented building certification program, concentrating its efforts on improving performance across five key areas of environmental and human health: energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, materials selection, sustainable site development and water savings.

In addition to maintaining and reusing 97.8% of the existing structure and envelope the renovation also reduced CO2 emissions by 41%, reduced water usage by 24.3% and reduced overall building energy usage by 35%, all over a baseline model. Additional sustainability features include: integration of an efficient VRF (variable refrigerant flow) HVAC system, low-flow plumbing fixtures, daylighting and efficient all LED lighting and a solar panel array canopy on the roof.

“Corrigan Station’s LEED certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership,” said Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC president and CEO. “The urgency of USGBC’s mission has challenged the industry to move faster and reach further than ever before, and Corrigan Station serves as a prime example with just how much we can accomplish.”

Construction is currently underway on Corrigan Station Phase II, also designed by Helix. Phase II includes an adjacent three-story structure at the corner of 19th and Main Street that provides additional retail space and covered parking on the first floor and office space on the second and third floors.

Helix had an incredible team of partners on the project — Straub Construction, Rosin Preservation, Lankford Fendler, PMA Engineering, SK Design Group and Vireo — that were instrumental to successfully delivering on the success of this large project. Congratulations to our clients on the revitalization of this historic gem and successful LEED Silver certification.

Photography by Bob Greenspan.


History of the Boley Building

Ten years ago, Andrews McMeel Universal (AMU), an international media and entertainment company, completed the renovation of the historically significant Boley building in the heart of Kansas City’s downtown for its new corporate headquarters. Needing additional space for their 200 plus employees, AMU incorporated the abandoned post-modern food court in the adjacent town center office building. The two opposing architectural environments became the challenge and inspiration for the workplace design, modern with a twist.

The six-story building was designed by acclaimed Kansas City architect Louis Curtiss and is one of the first buildings in the world to utilize a glass curtain wall system. At the time of completion in 1909, the curtain wall was an extraordinary structural design, and was not well-received aesthetically. Originally occupied by the clothing store Charles N. Boley, the building’s facade anticipated the future and popularity of curtain walls by 40 years.

In renovating the building, Helix developed a solution reflective of the whimsical and creative nature of AMU’s employees and the significant contributions the company has made to our culture through icons as Doonesbury, Ziggy and Cathy. Designed to stimulate synergy and inspire creativity, the contemporary, light-filled volume with its multi-story grand stair, expansive skylights and ground floor café, resonates with the energy of a company looking to the future while respecting its past.

The open office environment provides a variety of seating options, including lounges for small-group work. Touchdown meeting spaces off of elevator lobbies allows for quick and spontaneous conversation. Monitors provide opportunities to announce guests, upcoming events, and the latest weather and news. A large kitchen on the first floor is a favorite gathering place for employees, and it can also be used for larger community events.

Conference rooms provide technology infrastructure for meetings and group work. These rooms take advantage of the natural daylight that pours in through the skylight in the former food court.

Open workstations allow for easy collaboration. Custom shelving was designed to house AMU’s artwork and products. Marker and magnetic boards were accented with color to encourage self-expression and showcase employee creativity.

A central stair was introduced to promote synergy and well-being among company employees. The stair is wrapped in stretched fabric to allow daylight in, and it and utilizes LED lighting to represent the energy within.

Materials, color and furniture were chosen to tie together classic, elegant design with fun and play. We used bold colors to represent the playfulness of AMU’s work, as well as each business group encompassed within the company. The custom graphic wall-covering in coffee bars features bright colors and symbols of typography to represent the print side of the business. We also used wool fabrics – classic, long-wearing material in the same bold colors – on classic Knoll furniture pieces and wood (walnut) to represent the warmth and strength of organization.

AMU was recently featured in the Kansas City Business Journal for increasing net income by 40% in 2017. We’re delighted to see that ten years later, their headquarters is still serving AMU and their workforce well.


26 April, 2018 | Design, Workplace

Fast-Growing, Digital Agency’s New Headquarters Designed to Evolve

DEG, a full-service, digital agency, is one of the fastest growing digital marketing firms in the country. They had already outgrown their Corporate Woods headquarters, and with plans to double in size over the next five years, they needed a space that could serve them well into the future. DEG hired Helix to design a new home that could adapt alongside their industry and accommodate the continued growth of their company.

As an organization, DEG is constantly evolving, and they were looking for a workspace that would perform in the same way.

“What is different about DEG is we are fully committed to the idea that we will anticipate change, not just react to it,” CEO and co-founder Neal Sharma said in a recent interview with the Kansas City Business Journal. “The idea is that evolution is our middle name, and we are building the company’s culture to be one that anticipates and embraces change and expects it.”

Over the years, DEG has maintained an employee retention rate north of 90 percent, so every design decision was made with their team in mind. Their new, 30,000-sq.-ft. space, located on the fifth and sixth floors of 6601 College Boulevard in Overland Park, has a mix of private office and open workstations. Organized by team, each section offers internal conference rooms, called scrum rooms, as well as quiet solo rooms where employees can take a phone call or do focused work. The wide range of seating options, including task chairs, benches, stools, soft seating, rocking chairs or treadmill workstations, allows employees to work when and where they will be most comfortable and effective throughout the day. The lobby features a Brew Bar, stocked with coffee and beers, along with an open cafe that can be used for dining, socializing or a place to plug in and work.

In alignment with their position as a full-service digital agency, technology was used purposefully throughout the space to showcase their work. The main lobby display can be customized to each client coming into their office, and a social media command center that spans six screens displays all of the metrics they are tracking. The theater also has nine, bezel-less screens that can be used independently or as one large screen for client presentations. To make technology accessible and easy to use, every TV is paired with a custom built box that houses every cord, cable or adapter that someone might need for a presentation. The high-tech environment is balanced by low-tech solutions that add warmth and approachability to the environment. Felt wraps around the exterior L-shaped walls of the scrum rooms and can be utilized for pin up presentations, employee artwork or as an opportunity to present large format brand ideas to clients.

In anticipation of future growth, Helix developed a floor plan that would allow DEG to maintain a consistent design as they expanded beyond the fifth and sixth floors. The workstations, internal conference rooms and other key components are laid out in the same manner on each floor, providing continuity of wayfinding. In order to make each floor feel special and encourage movement between floors, there is a unique amenity space on each, such as the brew bar and lounge on the sixth floor and a staff cafe on the fifth floor.  

True to their name and mission, Helix and DEG are already working together to build-out the fourth floor. With a strong, flexible concept in place, their new building will grow with them for years to come.  

You can learn more about how DEG helps clients meet their business objectives through the creative application of technology at www.degdigital.com or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Two Helix projects receive recognition for Historic Preservation

This week we celebrated the recognition of two deserving projects for their work in historic preservation. The Historic Kansas City Annual Preservation Awards and Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation’s 2018 Statewide Honor Awards both took place this week. Our clients Copaken Brooks, 3D Development and Gold Crown Properties were among those honored for their reinvestment in significant Kansas City landmark buildings. On Wednesday at the Historic Kansas City Preservation Awards, East 9 at Pickwick Plaza received excellence awards in Best Adaptive Re-Use and Neighborhood Stabilization, while the Corrigan Building renovation received a merit award in Best Adaptive Reuse. This morning, the East 9 at Pickwick Plaza received a Preserve Missouri Award from Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation.

Preserving these monumental buildings retains an important piece of Kansas City’s history while positioning them for use by future generations. It was a honor to work alongside the leaders at each of these organizations to breathe new life into these historic structures. Helix was also fortunate to have worked with the talented team at Rosin Preservation for both of these clients. A persistent advocate for preservation, these projects benefited greatly from Rosin’s expertise and guidance.

Corrigan Building

The Corrigan Building was built in 1921 and is the tallest office tower in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District. The Gateway Station Post Office historically anchored the first floor while the famous dressmaker, Donnelly Garment Company, occupied the upper floors. Since the time of its construction, the ten-story Corrigan Building has stood out in its setting, surrounded by low and mid-rise commercial and industrial buildings. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981, the building suffered from low occupancy and a slow decline when larger trends shifted development towards the suburbs after World War II.

Spurred by construction of the Kansas City streetcar line, a joint venture between Copaken Brooks and 3D Development renovated the building into new offices with street level restaurant and retail space. Thoughtful design transformed the historic industrial spaces while retaining and reusing the building’s character-defining features to enhance the new uses. The building’s open floorplates morphed easily into communal and flexible office space for multi-floor and single-floor tenants, including the international co-working leader, WeWork. The rehab replaced non-historic windows with new windows that matched the multi-light industrial design of the original windows, which provide generous daylighting for interior spaces. New rooftop tenant amenity spaces took advantage of the historic elevator penthouse to capture views of downtown and the surrounding area.  

Photography: WeWork


The developers identified an appropriate use that revitalized a significant building in the Crossroads district, ensuring its continued use and creating synergy with the emerging streetcar transportation corridor. Fully leased at completion, the project successfully retained the exterior appearance and creatively used the historically open floorplates to create a catalyst for additional development in the Crossroads Arts District.

In addition to renovating the existing 123,000-sq,-ft. structure, Helix is designing an adjacent three-story structure at the corner of 19th and Main Street that provides additional retail space and covered parking on the first floor with Class A office space on the second and third floors. An event space will be added on the rooftop to serve building tenants.

East 9 at Pickwick Plaza

The historic Pickwick Plaza, built in 1930, is a landmark of downtown Kansas City and an early example of a mixed-use urban center. The massive 360,000 square-foot complex occupies three-quarters of a city block on the eastern edge of Kansas City’s business district.  The array of uses housed by the complex made it a destination in downtown Kansas City. These uses included offices, a hotel, a parking garage, a regional bus terminal, ground-level retail storefronts, a restaurant, and a radio studio. The hotel was famously a frequent retreat of President Harry S. Truman during the 1950’s. Shortly after the bus terminal and office block closed, the hotel was re-configured into low-income housing in 1972. It was later closed and abandoned as well. The historic structure sat vacant and dilapidated for many years before Gold Crown Properties began their decade-long effort to rehabilitate the historic complex in 2008.

Using a detailed model created from historic documents, the adaptive re-use converted the building into 260 apartment units with minimal changes to the historic character-defining features. Special care was given to retain the Art Deco styling on the exterior, to install historically appropriate windows, and to restore the iconic clocktower that rises above the bus terminal. An intrusive mezzanine was removed, allowing the project to recapture the historic two-story height of the lobby and to refurbish the high quality original finishes (terrazzo floors, marble columns, and plaster details on walls and ceilings). Reactivating retail space on three sides of the building at street level has brought pedestrian activity to the street, while reestablishing the historic complex as a mixed-use destination.

The developers overcame significant obstacles, including the Great Recession of 2008, on their nearly ten-year journey to bring this grand building back to life. In 2010, Gold Crown Properties bought the hotel, which had been Section 8 housing through the 1990s, and bus terminal, of which had been vacant for 60 years. It took another five years to acquire the property’s separately-owned north tower and garage before construction could begin. In addition to addressing the deteriorated condition of the complex, the developers faced challenges financing the extended project. Combining local incentives with federal and state historic tax credits helped bring the $66 million rehab project to its successful completion. The rehabilitated mixed-use building is fully occupied and providing a catalyst for revitalization in the eastern portion of downtown Kansas City.


Both of these projects stem from early leaders in Kansas City’s rich development history. Thanks to the investment of our clients, people will continue to experience their beauty, craftsmanship and iconic presence in our community for years to come. 

Photography by Bob Greenspan, unless otherwise noted.


20 March, 2018 | Design, In Progress, Renovation, Workplace

New McCownGordon Construction headquarters will transform prominent corner in downtown Kansas City

McCownGordon Construction turned the first ceremonial shovel of dirt on the firm’s new downtown headquarters at 850 Main Street in downtown Kansas City this afternoon. Mayor Sly James, City Manager Troy Schulte and Kansas City Economic Development Council President, Bob Langenkamp joined McCownGordon leadership in expressing their enthusiasm for the project and its impact on downtown Kansas City.

The firm purchased the former Catholic Charities building at 850 Main in 2017 and has been working with Helix Architecture + Design, to design the new office space. Said Cherafat, “We are very intentional in how we grow and how we serve our clients and care for our associates and partners.  Our mission is to enhance the journey we are all on together so, as we outgrew our existing building, we looked for space that gave us much more room to grow, as well as a design that would embody our culture and our commitment to our Core Values of Integrity, Performance and Relationships. 850 Main and the design which Helix created for us does both.”

According to Gordon, the location, in the heart of downtown, was a primary factor in the firm’s decision to purchase 850 Main. “Since the beginning, McCownGordon has been committed to Kansas City. When it came time to find a larger home, there was no question that we would remain downtown.”  The firm moved to its current location of 422 Admiral Blvd in 2005, renovating the building, built in 1919, which housed Kansas City’s first Ford automobile dealership.

Erika Moody, principal for Helix, points to the design created for 850 Main as a truly transformational renovation. “When it is complete, this project will reinvigorate the corner of 9th and Main and be a prominent architectural addition along the streetcar line. The transparency of the design concept showcases an open, modern workplace while engaging those inside the building with the activities surrounding the structure.” The renovated building will include state-of-the-art amenities, including a comprehensive technology package, fitness center with yoga studio, expanded conference and collaboration spaces and a rooftop patio. “Our team worked closely with McCownGordon’s team to design a space that truly reflected their culture and their commitment to growth and opportunity,” added Moody.

(l to r) McCownGordon Construction’s chairman of the board, Brett Gordon and chief executive officer Ramin Cherafat speak to the crowd at the corner of 9th and Main in downtown Kansas City, MO to celebrate the company’s groundbreaking at 850 Main.


City manager, Troy Schulte, Jackson County Executive Frank White, McCownGordon chairman of the board Brett Gordon, Kansas City Mayor Sly James, McCownGordon chief executive officer Ramin Cherafat and Councilman Scott Taylor celebrated a groundbreaking for McCownGordon’s new corporate headquarters at 850 Main in downtown Kansas City, MO.


McCownGordon’s Chris Hampton operated a jackhammer to break ground on the firm’s renovation of 850 Main in downtown Kansas City, MO. When complete in early 2019, the building will house the growing construction management firm. Looking on (l to r) is City Manager Troy Schulte, KCEDC president Bob Langenkamp, McCownGordon chief executive Ramin Cherafat, Jackson County Executive Frank White and McCownGordon chairman of the board, Brett Gordon. Photos by Bob Greenspan.


Nancy Whitworth, vice president of strategic services for McCownGordon points to the many downtown amenities such as streetcar adjacency, a covered parking garage and proximity to the Power & Light District as an exciting component of the new office location.  “We strive to deliver the best building experience in all that we do,” said Whitworth. “That includes providing our associates with the best experience as members of our team. The location of 850 Main and its relationship to the excitement and growth of downtown Kansas City is an employee benefit that we are proud to deliver.”

The project is expected to take ten months to complete with the firm moving to the new location in early 2019.


26 February, 2018 | Historic Renovation, Renovation, Workplace

Kansas City Crossroads: Taylor Building History + Renovation

The Taylor Building renovation was completed ten years ago. This turn-of-the-century dry goods building was built in 1902 by Root & Siemens. With the majority of its original exterior features intact and in good condition, the building retains a high degree of historical integrity. Today, the building is home to creative agency Bishop McCann, an industry leader in producing meetings, incentive programs and events worldwide.  

Using boutique hotels as inspiration for the design, the historic building was modernized while adhering to the national Parks Services standards for historic renovations. A sleek and modern elliptical staircase was inserted into the center of the “lobby” space, becoming the counterpoint to the rough masonry shell. Private offices, meeting spaces and a large communal gathering space spiral off the stair, now the social center point for this highly successful and fast-growing company. A 20 ft. chandelier was custom designed to further accentuate the hospitality aesthetic, and a deck was added to the rooftop to accommodate a resort-like meeting destination.

Bishop McCann has now become an event space in itself, hosting community events and celebrity guests. Michelle Obama chose this space for her headquarters during the 2008 presidential campaign.


5 Ways to Improve Workplace Health with the WELL Building Standard

With the start of a new year, it’s natural to focus on health and wellness. While many of us set goals for a balanced diet and working out, we often overlook improving a large component of our day – the workplace.

The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) was founded on the belief that improving the quality of a building can help people work, live and perform at their best. Studies, like one from the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) back up their assertions. It found that companies who earned high marks on its HERO Health and Well-Being Best Practices Scorecard, which was done in collaboration with Mercer©, outperformed the 500 largest U.S. companies on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index over a six-year period.

To improve health in work environments, IWBI released the WELL Building Standard in October of 2014. They cover seven, core concepts of health: air, nourishment, fitness, mind, water, light, comfort and innovation. Alissa Wehmueller, Principal at Helix Architecture + Design, saw how the program could benefit our clients and decided to pursue and ultimately, achieved her WELL AP designation.  

“We’ve been encouraging clients to implement many of these strategies for a while. However, this program goes a step further, providing measurable metrics, as well as a breadth of data, to support these ideas,” said Wehmueller.  

Like LEED, WELL’s tenets can be incorporated into spaces whether or not a company is pursuing full certification. The program covers 105 elements, or features, giving buildings and organizations a number of ways to make their work environment healthier.

“With so many initiatives to choose from, knowing where to start can be daunting. If you’re ready to make some changes, start by talking to your associates first. Find out the biggest concerns in the office, along with which ideas associates are most excited about and work to address those,” said Wehmueller.

WELL accounts for the entire workplace experience, covering everything from air quality to an employee’s physical comfort. Here, Wehmueller shares five strategies that can improve workplace health using the standard as a guide.

  1. Support mental health.

    There are number of ways that a well-designed office can improve an employee’s mental health from encouraging healthy sleep habits to providing connections and access to nature. Flexibility is another important element. Research has shown a connection between job satisfaction, as well as a group’s cohesiveness, to the presence of varied spaces that support different workstyles. The WELL Standard says work environments should offer spaces to work, focus, collaborate and rest. This means providing a combination of quiet zones, collaborative spaces and multi-functional workstations for team members.

  2. Reevaluate lighting.

    Effective lighting design, offering access to daylight for our bodies’ circadian rhythms, workstations positioned to reduce glare and daylight modeling are just a few of the thirteen ways the WELL Standard addresses light. Natural daylight and access to views of nature are critical components of supporting employees’ overall well-being and healthy sleep habits.

  3. Reduce distractions.

    Internal noise can lead to decreased productivity, particularly in open offices where distractions and interruptions are frequent. However, there are a large number of acoustic solutions and design practices companies can use to ensure each employee has a comfortable place to focus. Impact reducing flooring, sound barriers, sound masking and sound reducing surfaces can help companies enhance their teams’ performance and ability to focus.  

  4. Foster healthy nutrition.

    Eating habits are often influenced and reinforced through cues in our environment. Currently, only 8 percent of people consume the recommended four servings of fruit per day, and 6 percent consume the recommended five servings of vegetables per day. Providing access to healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables and communal cooking areas can foster healthier decision making. WELL also suggests the reconfiguration of dining environments to increase the appeal and visibility of nutritious foods. Providing convenient bottle refilling stations with filtered water and signage to encourage drinking water reminds associates to stay hydrated.

  5. Start moving.

    Encourage employees to take the stairs by making stairwells open and accessible. Another method to incentivize movement is to add physical activity spaces or make changes to the building’s exterior, such as designing cyclist and pedestrian-friendly environments. Organizations can also supplement gym memberships and fitness programs to encourage an active lifestyle outside the office.

Organizations with healthier employees can not only increase productivity and retention, but also reduce health insurance costs for individuals, as well as their businesses. With a variety of elements to choose from, there are multiple ways to reap the benefits of the WELL Standard. Discover which features are the best fit for your organization by contacting us at info@helixkc.com to schedule a space evaluation.


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


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.


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