Browsing Workplace

15 December, 2016 | Historic Renovation, Renovation, Workplace

Corrigan Station Renovation Brings Historic Tie to the Kansas City Streetcar Full Circle

Today marks the long-awaited opening of the renovated Thomas Corrigan Building at 19th & Walnut. The project, which began in April 2015, is just the latest completed project in Helix’s longstanding experience restoring historic buildings in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District.

Historic Thomas Corrigan Building, Kansas CityPhotos of the historic Thos. Corrigan Building, taken in 1981 for the building’s National Register of Historic Places application.

The 10-story Thomas (Thos.) Corrigan Building, completed in 1921, was originally developed by the Corrigan family and designed by Keene & Simpson architects. The four brothers, often referred to as the “Corrigan boys,” came to Kansas City from Canada in the late 1800’s. The family, and especially Thomas, would play a major role in developing Kansas City’s street railway lines, first with mule-drawn cars in the 1870’s, and then later electrical cars in the 20th Century — creating the city’s first streetcar franchise, the Metropolitan Street Railway Company. The historic connection between Kansas City streetcars and Thomas Corrigan makes the KC Streetcar stop outside of the new Corrigan Station come full circle back to its namesake. The original building was reportedly built for Corrigan’s four daughters, and was managed by his grandson Colonel Thomas C. Bourke for many years.

From Left to Right: Initial mule-drawn carriages in Kansas City in 1870. 12th & Walnut, populated with streetcars in 1930. Thomas’ brother and partner in railway development, Bernard Corrigan.From Left to Right: Initial mule-drawn carriages in Kansas City in 1870. 12th & Walnut, populated with streetcars in 1930. Thomas’ brother and partner in railway development, Bernard Corrigan.

The building’s primary tenant from 1921-1931 was the Gateway Station Post Office — hence the choice of Corrigan Station for the development’s new name.

In the 1930’s and 40’s, the Donnelly Garment Company occupied the building. The brand was founded in 1919 by Nell Donnelly Reed (Nelly Don) and quickly became known for its ready-to-wear dresses that were as beautiful as they were functional. She was quoted by the New York Times stating a goal to “make women look pretty when they are doing the dishes.” The company would later become the largest manufacturer of women’s clothing worldwide in the 1950’s and one of the most famous companies in Kansas City.

nelly_don_corrigan

The factory operated out of Corrigan station during it’s prime production years.

corrigan_loom_renderingsAs the most notable tenant in the history of the Corrigan Building, the Nelly Don dress company occupied the building from 1927-1948. The brand was the inspiration for a large wooden wall installation in the main lobby. The installation, fabricated by Hinge Woodworks, is an abstract take on a loom, the device used to weave cloth. The ‘loom wall’ creates visual interest and imitates the appearance of thread being manipulated through the wooden fins. The piece is meant to appear as though you’ve caught a loom in action, with the ‘threads’ moving up from the floor to the ceiling.

By 1947, Nelly Don outgrew the building and was replaced by the Veteran’s Administration – who leased the entire 123,000 square foot building for over 10 years. At that time, Col. Bourke was still managing the property and made several updates the structure, developed site parking to the west and eventually sold in 1977. In 1981 the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places by it’s then owner, Alan J. Bronfman, president of Distributors, Inc.. From that time — on with very few short-term tenants — the commercial use of the building gradually declined until it was purchased in 2013 by co-developers Copaken Brooks and 3D Development.

19th-and-Main-Exterior_WEBcorrigan_renderingsThe renovation features 9-stories of office space and a 1-story of ground level retail space. The design team worked to preserve the historic character of the building in accordance with National Park Service preservation guidelines. We imagine the Corrigan family would be extremely proud to have their 100-year-old building restored — and with excellent connectivity to downtown Kansas City, via the new streetcar stop located within steps of the doors.

In addition to renovating the existing 123,000-square-foot structure, Helix designed the adjacent three-story structure. Once constructed it will provide additional retail space and covered parking on the first floor and expanded floor-plates of 25,000-square-feet on the second and third floor for office tenants. An event space was added on the rooftop to serve building tenants and host special events.

What an extraordinary project for the Main Street corridor and the continued revitalization of downtown Kansas City!


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.”


KCU Administration Building Renovation

KCU Admin Building | Helix Architecture + Design | JE Dunn | Henderson Engineers

KCU Admin Building | Helix Architecture + Design | JE Dunn | Henderson Engineers

We are excited to announce the completion of another successful project with Kansas City University of Medicine & Biosciences (KCU). Originally home to the first Children’s Mercy Hospital, the 100-year-old building became part of KCU in the 1970s. Today, the newly renovated building functions as both the Administration Building and campus Welcome Center.

KCU Admin Building | Helix Architecture + Design | JE Dunn | Henderson Engineers

KCU Admin Building | Helix Architecture + Design | JE Dunn | Henderson Engineers

KCU Admin Building | Helix Architecture + Design | JE Dunn | Henderson Engineers

KCU Admin Building | Helix Architecture + Design | JE Dunn | Henderson Engineers

Prior to beginning design, Helix led a team of key stakeholders through a series of visioning sessions, in which we were able to define underlying directives for the project, such as: perceived University identity, campus culture, fundamental business drivers, modern day work styles and the desired look and feel for the space.

The building serves over 1,000 KCU students and approximately 70 members of KCU faculty and staff. By opening up the floorplan we were able to make the building easier to navigate, while introducing hospitality areas, progressive workplace solutions, and expanded A/V capabilities to address the evolving needs of students and staff, alike.

By transitioning administrative space to an open office environment the space enhances inter-department communication and improves access for students. This strategic shift in culture also increased shared social spaces directly adjacent to major circulation paths to give an open, welcoming appeal.

KCU_Admin_Building_ImagesThe completion of the Administration Building serves as the kickoff event for KCU’s 2016 Centennial celebration. This preservation and modernization of the building reflects KCU’s past, and celebrates a future of continued collaboration, research and service to the communities it serves.

In line with KCU’s commitment to sustainability, Helix developed a building renovation concept that re-used the existing structure while re-configuring and modernizing the space to better serve the university’s needs. Slated to achieve LEED Silver Certification, the project incorporated high efficiency building systems, improved the indoor environment for building users and repurposed existing materials to the fullest extent possible.

Congratulations to our partners at KCU on this milestone for the university and our project team on a beautiful space that blends academic services and workplace design seamlessly into a historic building!

Images by Michael Robinson Photography


8 December, 2015 | Design, Renovation, Workplace

What does it take to successfully renovate one of the largest office buildings in Kansas City?

We recently celebrated a monumental milestone — the rededication of the 1.2 million-square-foot Richard Bolling Federal Building in downtown Kansas City. Its complete modernization took four phases spanning 15 years, all while the building remained occupied.

Our work on the $280 million project, which was rededicated Nov. 6, drew praise from Jason Klumb, U.S. General Services Administration Regional Administrator for the Heartland Region. He wrote this in a letter to our design team:

“Helix Architecture + Design has given the American taxpayers and GSA a public space that we are very, very proud to serve in. Throughout the project, your leadership and coordination was paramount to the success of the renovation. … Your work ensured we received the most professional and appropriate design services, you were diligent in meeting deadlines, and you maintained sensitivity to the budget that respected the investment of taxpayers. … Your team made the process very smooth and was always there when we needed you. … It was a job well done, on budget, and ahead of schedule.”

The project, designed under the GSA’s Design Excellence Program, aimed to improve the workplace environment for the building’s 2,800 occupants while improving energy efficiency, upgrading security and abating environmental issues.

Constructed in 1962, the 18-story Bolling Building is an exceptional example of Mid-Century Modern architecture. As architects, there is an inherent thrill in working on a structure of this magnitude, but first and foremost this project was about people — thousands of people whose lives are impacted by this building every day, and whose work experience is enhanced by this renovation.

We created progressive, high-performance workplaces tailored to modern employees and to the culture of each organization that uses the building. Alternative office spaces — such as lounge areas, small team rooms, and conference rooms — accommodate a variety of work styles. We also made the space capable of adapting to continued growth.  And when designing shared spaces within the building — the café, the fitness center, conference rooms, the health clinic — we sought to provide opportunities for interaction across departments and agencies.

GSA’s leadership on this project also reflects its commitment to the environment. Since the renovation began, the building’s energy use has decreased by 40 percent. In addition, two green roofs and two underground cisterns can capture up to 110,000 gallons of rainwater to irrigate the two-city-block site. Phase 3 achieved LEED certification, and Phase 4 is slated to achieve LEED Silver certification.  

We had an incredible team of partners — GastingerWalker&, JE Dunn Construction and our engineering consultants — that were instrumental to successfully delivering such a complex project on budget and ahead of schedule.  We are proud to be part of such a monumental project and an exceptional team.

Photos credited to Michael Robinson Photography


2 December, 2014 | Workplace

CAPS Workplace Workshop

Over the last few years there’s been a lot of discussion around Millennials in the workplace. While this is still a relevant discussion, we are ready to study what’s next. What are the values, concerns, and aspirations of the next generation? This fall, a group of our designers teamed with students from the local Blue Valley CAPS program to learn more about this generation and their vision of what the workplace will be like in 5-8 years as they graduate college.

To properly set the stage, it’s important to know CAPS is not an ordinary high school. The Center of Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) hosts junior and senior students from other area high schools to participate in problem-based real world experiential learning focused in the areas of Bioscience, Business, Engineering, and Human Services with the goal of fostering individual and societal success (www.bvcaps.org). The students we met with are mentored by real working professionals and are able to contribute to actual projects and solutions in the marketplace. Together, they comprise an extraordinary pool of youth eager to innovate and quite capable of imaging a viable workplace of the future.

In our first meeting we took a step back from considering the physical workplace and dreamt about the type of work this generation might be doing. Think back only ten years ago to 2004. Facebook was just getting started at universities, the iphone wouldn’t arrive until 2007, and Twitter was still in its early years. Today there are hundreds of thousands of jobs in social media: app development, programming and marketing, and strategists that didn’t exist in 2004. Now think ahead 10 years.  Not so easy? Around our Helix red table we asked the CAPS students to create a job that doesn’t exist today and a profile for the person doing the job.  A few of the examples?

  • A neighborhood ‘tech guy’ always available to help, and who only lives a few doors away
  • A garbage astronaut who cleans up debris in outerspace
  • A scientist who  develops 3D printed organs

 

Good, right?

At our next meeting the Helix team went to the CAPS school to talk with another group of students about what kind of spaces they see themselves working in someday. We asked: What does this place look like? What kind of furniture is there? What tools do you need? What’s the most important part of this space?

Students broke into teams to design the perfect spaces to focus, learn, and collaborate, and then presented their ideas to the group. Some of our favorites:

  • A small workstation within collaborative areas to retreat to focus on an idea without losing inspiration or disrupting the group.
  • Focus areas should feel more like home with calm music and a variety of lighting. They even suggested scented candles! Essentially, “the opposite of a classroom.”
  • The most important ingredients in social areas? Food, plants and sunlight to fuel wellness and creativity

The CAPS students provided valuable insight into this next generation. We loved the way they compared workplaces of the past (rows of cubicles with an office for the boss) to classrooms of the past (rows of desks with a teacher up front lecturing). The conversation about how their educational experience has changed based on the space they’re in is a testament to the value of sustainable architecture (CAPS is housed in a LEED Silver building) and the experiential learning model of the CAPS school. Clearly, the expectations and needs of this generation and how they influence the workplace will continue to be the subject of research and studies for years to come, but initiating the conversation with forward-thinking kids in our very own city seemed like a great place to start.

A huge thank you to the Blue Valley CAPS program, particularly teacher and facilitator Scott Kershel and the students who met with us for sharing their ideas, time, and zeal.


Award Season

Award Season is upon us, and Helix-designed projects have been taking the stage- and in some instances- dominating it!  This month we are celebrating the success of 18th &Vine’s Highland Place re-development, as it has proven deserving of the state’s Preserve Missouri Award and Historic KC’s Preservation Award under “Best Preservation Practices.”  Last Friday’s Capstone Award Ceremony recognized three Helix projects: The Richard Bolling Federal Building (with 1.2 million gross sf), Webster Garage in Kansas City’s Crossroads, and Sporting Innovation’s renovation of the historic Lowe and Campbell Building (which also received a Historic KC Award, under “Contemporary Design”).

We want to thank everyone who contributed to the success of these projects!


“We Care” 2013

In the midst of sickness and sluggishness that cold weather brings, a contagious case of holiday cheer recently spread through the Helix office. A large group of Helix employees eagerly participated in the annual “We Care” event this year and subsequently transformed our resource library into something resembling an elf’s workshop. “We Care,” hosted and sponsored nationally by Herman Miller, took place last week at the Thornberry Boys and Girls Club for the event’s Kansas City region. The design community came together for a joy-filled evening of creating and sharing holiday crafts with local children. Over 13 architecture and design firms participated, along with a variety of dealer partners, alliance partners and volunteer groups. By the end of the night, our industrious group of Helix elves had supplied over 125 custom-decaled scarves to appreciative children.


Vitra

On Wednesday, September 19th Helix was pleased to host Vitra – a company known for its innovative and unique approach to commercial workspace design. A special thank you to our speakers Tina Burger and Margit Geist!


24 July, 2012 | Design, Workplace

Project Peek: Global Prairie

For Global Prairie, an integrated communications firm with offices in eight U.S. states, Helix created a progressive workplace based on the Net ’n Nest concept. The idea was to design an office where lawyers, executives, strategists, and creative professionals could meet and collaborate (net) and also a place where they could do focused individual work or handle critical and confidential information (nest).

A variety of work spaces including benched seating, alcove sofas, conference spaces, and telephone rooms were designed to promote interaction and communication between young talent and industry veterans, accommodate employees seeking more quiet, private space, and support small-group collaboration.