Helix Receives Two Honors from IIDA Mid-America Design Awards

Every two years, the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Mid America Chapter honors the exceptional quality of design work in our region. Projects are evaluated for their functionality, innovation and implementation of overall design intent and brand. We are thrilled that this year two Helix projects were recognized with design awards.

Kansas City University The Center for Medical Education – Silver in the Higher Education Category

The Center for Medical Education Innovation (CMEI) is a state-of-the-art building that puts Kansas City University (KCU) at the forefront of clinical education and offers access to technology-rich labs. CMEI addresses critical programmatic needs for the campus, the first of a new generation of buildings at KCU that accommodate the ever-evolving nature of medical education. The highly transparent design transforms CMEI into a showcase of discovery and innovation, featuring environments such as the simulation deck, adaptable clinical skills suite, the osteopathic manipulative medicine lab, and a multi-purpose forum. The forum, an iconic volume that appears to hover above ground when viewed from the west, informs the campus culture — a place for lectures, studying, or socializing.

“One thing the university valued for this project was the attempt to remain future proof, and that is very clearly expressed in this building and the architecture. It’s extremely important in medical education because it is moving from an individualized approach to a team based approach, so well done.” Edwin Beltran, FIIDA, Assoc. AIA, MADA Judge

To meet KCU’s goals for innovation in education, the simulation rooms were located on the ground level and organized around a central simulation deck. The deck is an immersive black-box theater that opens onto the new campus quad. A theatrical pipe grid was installed over the simulation deck, and power, simulated air, and simulated medical gas were installed on cord reels spread throughout the deck to facilitate the space being set up in any way the University wants. With this layout and approach to building systems, simulation exercises can be run from a trauma scene outside on the quad all the way through treatment in the simulation rooms. The possible simulation scenarios, including mass casualty events, are limited only by the faculties’ imaginations. CMEI blends indoor and outdoor spaces to form direct connections between the building, its campus, and the surrounding community beyond.

Most importantly, the building prioritizes the health and well-being of students and faculty. Almost 80 percent of regularly occupied spaces have access to quality views through the expansive glass. To offer users a variety of experiences, an outdoor terrace was created on the top level of the building. CMEI is LEED Silver certified. The project was a collaboration between Helix Architecture + Design and CO Architects.

“This project was like a big hug. There is this beautiful juxtaposition between wood, glass and concrete, and balancing that to a warm, inviting residence hall, is truly amazing.” Fiona Grandowski, AIA, IIDA, LEED AP, MADA Judge

Kansas City Art Institute Residence Hall – Gold in the Higher Education Category

The residence hall at the Kansas City Art Institute is a building that utilizes integrated materials and a multi-faceted program to create a home specifically designed for art students. It is a community hub and dwelling space for blossoming artists to rest, refuel and create. The art university is located within an optimal intersection of creativity and inspiration. Situated on a pedestrian path commonly referred to as the “art ribbon”, KCAI connects students to both the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. The site for the residence hall leverages its ideal location within the arts corridor to strengthen the campus’ relationship with these prestigious institutes.

When designing the Barbara A. Marshall Residence Hall, the team began by developing a thorough understanding of the unique KCAI student. Within the walls of this residence hall, like-minded yet diverse students come together to learn and grow. They have a heightened appreciation and curiosity for craftsmanship and quality in their new home; they care deeply about their mental health and wellness; and they are advocates for social justice. The college sought to transform an empty parking lot on a narrow site into a blank canvas for its students. Movable furniture and durable materials in the common areas invite students to make the building into their home and manipulate their environment. During the first year, students delve into a variety of mediums. This exploration is mirrored in the variety of colors and materials used throughout the building, integrated in such a way that these discerning residents appreciate their craft and execution. Students can turn the residence hall into their own art gallery, with pin-up space and areas for showcasing their work integrated throughout the building. The project was a collaboration between Helix Architecture + Design and Christopher Carvell Architects.

We are thrilled to share these awards with our clients, architectural/engineering partners and contractors who were critical in making each of these projects a success!