Design Firm Selected for Downtown Campus for the Arts: Helix Architecture + Design and HGA


The University of Missouri-Kansas City announced today that it has selected the design team of Helix Architecture + Design and HGA to proceed with the programming and concept design process for the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance as Phase 1 of the new Downtown Campus for the Arts.

“The strengths of this team include Helix’s solid reputation and advocacy for UMKC, the Crossroads and the arts in Kansas City, coupled with HGA’s strong portfolio of higher education performing arts spaces and deep knowledge of music and dance pedagogy and accreditation standards,” said Bob Simmons, UMKC associate vice chancellor for Administration. “We will begin work immediately on the contracting process so that program confirmation work can begin this fall.”
The four additional teams that were considered for the project were: BNIM Architects with Ann Beha Architects; El Dorado Inc. with Ennead; Hoefer Wysocki Architecture with Pfeiffer Partners; and International Architects Atelier with SnØhetta.
The teams were invited to participate in an Urban Design Charette as part of selection process for choosing a design team for the project. UMKC students from the Conservatory and the College of Arts and SciencesArchitecture, Urban Planning and Design program were assigned to the teams, bringing their experiences, different options and opportunities to the proposals.

“We conducted the charette to gain a broader understanding of the teams and their community participation processes, not as a “beauty contest” of the final concepts they would present,” said Simmons. “The community and UMKC were genuinely pleased with the quality of all the teams and with the engagement and enthusiasm with which they approached the charette and the interview process. This resulted in an extremely difficult decision of going from five teams down to one.”

Team interviews were conducted by a 17-member selection committee that looked for specific criteria, including the methods with which the teams were organized and how well they worked together; their experience on similar projects; and what team could best deliver a successful project to the Conservatory, to UMKC and to the city.

“We are excited about the teams and the public’s participation in this process, which is evidenced by the approximate 150 people who attended the Urban Design Charette, and the more than 200 who attended the presentation on Sunday afternoon,” said UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton. “This reflects positively on the enthusiasm the city shares for arts and for this project.”
Now that the design team has been chosen, the next steps include finalizing the contract; program verification, which involves meeting with the faculty, staff and students to ensure the right mix of spaces, rooms and the criteria for the spaces and the project; and preparing the concept design and renderings that will be used to visually describe the project – all of which will be used to continue and complete the fundraising process.
The date for completion of the concept design is early 2015. The goal to complete the fundraising process is by the end of 2016.
More than $29 million has been raised with $19 million needed to complete UMKC’s private fundraising goal for the project. Once that is accomplished, UMKC will submit a request to the State of Missouri for a matching $48 million appropriation through the Higher Education Capital Fund that was created to allow for public matching funds to private gifts.
A group of anonymous donors, working with the Downtown Council, assembled an 80,000-square-foot tract that can accommodate Phase I of the multi-phase project. The site covers a full city block bounded by Broadway, Central, 17th and 18th streets, directly south of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

The tract is being donated contingent on a successful campaign by UMKC to raise the full $96 million estimated cost for Phase I through private gifts and state matching funds. The tract announcement was the third milestone in the progress of the Downtown Campus, following the public release of detailed impact studies and the announcement months ago of a $20 million challenge grant pledge by the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation. The tract announcement allowed this Urban Design Charette and Consultant Selection process to proceed as a crucial fourth milestone.

The Selection Committee members included Dean Peter Witte of the Conservatory, Dean Bonnie Postlethwaite of the UMKC Libraries along with representatives from the Provost’s Office, Conservatory faculty and students, staff from Student Affairs/Enrollment Management and Administration and representatives from the donors of the land and the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation.

Kansas City Star article

Kansas City Business Journal article

About the University of Missouri-Kansas City
The University of Missouri-Kansas City, one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 15,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience. For more information about UMKC, visit You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and watch us on YouTube.
About Helix Architecture + Design
Helix Architecture + Design plays a key role in making Kansas City World Class. Igniting the Crossroads Arts District with dozens of the firm's award winning work, Helix is a catalyst in the creation of downtown's thriving arts scene and ongoing redevelopment. Located in the heart of the action downtown for over 20 years, Helix "walks the talk" when it comes to linking people's lives with the power of good design.  Helix presently serves cultural arts, higher education and workplace clients throughout the Midwest.
About HGA Architects and Engineers
The founders of HGA Architects and Engineers were passionate about architecture that could inspire learning, stimulate creativity and strengthen communities. That early dedication forms the foundation of HGA's award-winning, specialty arts and education studio, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This select group of architects, designers and engineers specializes in the evaluation, planning and design of performing arts education, practice and performance facilities. Prominent recent projects include Valley Performing Arts Center, Northridge, CA; Columbus State University's Uptown Arts Campus, Columbus, GA and; Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center, Macalester College, Saint Paul, MN.
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