Citing an unprecedented wave of real estate development in Kansas City, two local design firms are joining forces. Helix Architecture + Design is merging with Blackbird Design Studio in hopes that together, the teams can strengthen their position in the market. According to Helix, the merger will offer clients access to combined leadership, expanded resources and unrivaled design talent.
“The pace of change within our industry is rapidly accelerating,” Helix founding principal Reeves Wiedeman said. “New firms bring fresh ideas and different approaches to the way we have always done things; established firms bring a depth of knowledge, experience and stability. We see other firms locally and nationally following one of these two paths. In merging Helix and Blackbird we are bringing together the best of both worlds - stability, mentorship, extraordinary talent, a nimble approach to change and the ability to truly lead the industry into its next era,”
The relationship started as a joint effort to land a client both firms were pursuing. With complementary areas of expertise, a similar culture within the studio environment, and a shared vision for the quality of work each wanted to create, the seed was planted when an industry partner asked the firm leaders if they considered making the partnership permanent.
Today, both firms' work is evident throughout Kansas City's streetscape, board rooms, and academic halls. The projects range from art venues to restaurant concepts to new civic buildings and some of the largest corporate headquarters in the metro area.
“We started Blackbird Design Studio to chart our own course, elevate design and elevate our city. Over the last three years we have continuously had the opportunity to do that,” said Erika Moody, founding principal with Blackbird Design Studio. “This merger allows us to continue what we started on a larger scale; it allows us to be stronger, better, faster with a team and network in place that will help us continue to propel our city, and our region, forward.”
For the last 25 years, Helix has renovated some of Kansas City's most proiminent landmarks and become a go-to for real estate owners and developers investing in downtown. The firm has also built a substantial portfolio of work for top local academic and cultural institutions. Currently, the firm is leading significant local projects including the Traders Towers renovation into a smart apartment building, the mixed-use Pickwick Plaza project, the recently completed Boulevard Brewing Company Visitor Center, the new Crossroads Westside development, as well as the University of Missouri-Kansas City's proposed Conservatory of Music & Dance in the Crossroads Arts District.
“We believe that investing in the arts, education and a strong urban core is central to the vibrancy of our city,” said Jay Tomlinson, founding principal of Helix Architecture + Design. “Design is a key component of our commitment but equally important is our engagement in the broader issues that are impacting our community.”
Moody and Blackbird co-founder Trevor Hoiland started the firm with an already extensive portfolio of corporate office projects. As former principals with 360 Architecture, the pair led the design of H&R Block's world headquarters, AMC's new Theater Support Center, and the renovation and expansion of Black & Veatch's world headquarters. Since founding blackbird, they've led corporate office projects throughout the region and have expanded to other markets. Current and recently completed projects include Olsson Associates' corporate headquarters and multiple regional offices, the renovation of the Creamery Building, Synergy Services Children's Campus, the HighTower office and showroom, Valorem Consulting's headquarters, and Corrigan Station.
“We love what we do; we take our work seriously but not ourselves,” Hoiland said. “We recognize that our clients are trusting us with a significant investment; they are letting us help shape not only their physical environment but their culture, their vision and their brand. We want the end result to be special but also make the process enjoyable along the way.”
The firms will consolidate operations into Helix’s current headquarters at 16th and Walnut in the Crossroads Arts District. Helix’s existing leadership consists of Wiedeman, Tomlinson, Michael Huele, Bryan Gross, Kristine Sutherlin, and Alissa Wehmueller. Blackbird principals Moody, Hoiland and Evan Fox will join that leadership team.