Jay Tomlinson

Principal, Helix Architecture + Design, Inc

Jay is a founder of Kansas City-based Helix Architecture + Design. His work with visionary clients who, like him, are committed to the continued vitality of the urban core has contributed to the recent $5 billion revitalization of downtown Kansas City, where he has led more than 40 renovation projects, several of them combining LEED-certification criteria with both federal and state historic tax credits.

Deeply involved in community and arts organizations, Jay has served as president and board member of the Charlotte Street Foundation and president of the Friends of Art of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. He also co-founded the Urban Society of Kansas City and is past-president of the American Institute of Architects, Kansas City Chapter. He has held numerous civic board memberships and currently serves on the Kansas City Mayor’s Economic Development Committee Advance KC and the Mayor’s Task Force for the Arts.

Jay’s design work has been published nationally and recognized with local and regional design awards. He has collaborated with artists of different disciplines to produce integrated works of art and architecture, and this work, too, has received numerous accolades. In addition to chairing design awards committees, Jay has been a key contributor to a robust local conversation about the quality of the designed environment.

Jay earned a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental design in 1981 and a Bachelor of Architecture in 1982, both from the University of Kansas.

What makes Kansas City a great place for creativity and innovation?
The people. I think it starts with the amazing community of visual artists that have made KC their homes. From them, creatives from many other walks of life have joined in to make KC the creative capital it is today, especially the technology and entrepreneurial communities.

When and where are you happiest?
In the mountains, with family. But, I really like good cities too!

What is your favorite place in Kansas City?
The Nelson-Atkins, and my neighborhood, the Crossroads.

Where's your favorite place outside of Kansas City?
In the U.S., Montana. In the world, Paris.

What's your most treasured personal possession?
My health. And for something physical, I guess it’s my art collection.

Who's your favorite fictional hero?
My heroes are real, not fictional.

Who do you most admire in real life? 
My parents, because they are great role models for me, every day of my life. My mentors, Tom Nelson and Chuck Hoffman. My sons, because they are finding their ways in this crazy world. Cormac McCarthy, Alvaro Siza, Deborah Butterfield, Supreme Court justices, our founding fathers, to name a few others.

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