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