May 23, 2013

When relocating its new headquarters, HKS, Inc. – a Dallas-based top-five architectural firm with 28 offices worldwide – could have designed a new building on a greenfield site, moved further out to the suburbs or just remained nestled in Uptown. Instead, the firm’s leadership elected to lease space in an existing, underutilized building in the Central Business District of downtown Dallas – designing it in a leading-edge, sustainable way.

On May 28, more than 500 HKS staff will move into 140,000 square feet of workspace at One Dallas Center – owned by St. Paul Holdings LP, a joint redevelopment of Todd Interests and Moriah Real Estate Company – at 350 North Saint Paul Street. One Dallas Center is a modernist skyscraper, originally designed by I.M. Pei & Partners in 1979. HKS will occupy the basement and floors one through seven.

Not only did HKS desire to reuse and readapt an existing building, the firm is also promoting:

  • a transparent face in the community,
  • a street-level HKS Learning Laboratory
  • LEED Platinum-seeking sustainability
  • breaking down workplace barriers, creating a more collaborative way to work

A Transparent Face in the Community
HKS’s street-level façade will provide a window into the design world, displaying the firm’s practice with a storefront presence. The downtown location promotes an active, vibrant street front with visual interest and connection with the perpetual motion of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) trains and the energy of several thousand commuters each day. At the same time, the downtown activity will energize and inspire creativity within the HKS office.

The headquarters is located at the heart of the DART system with front-door access to every transit line. More than 30 percent of the firm’s employees have expressed interest in using DART. Alternative transportation is promoted including walking, biking, busing and light rail. Locker rooms and showers are provided for early-morning or noon-time workouts as well as commuters. The firm plans to lease electric cars for employees who need to attend meetings during the day.

A Street-Level HKS Learning Laboratory
The HKS Learning Laboratory will be located on the first floor. The lab will promote transparency of the design process within the office by encouraging knowledge and understanding of HKS’s work. We will display charettes and work sessions in the open space at level one. The voluminous, industrial-style space will feature large-scale mock-ups, prototypes and 3D printers. The firm’s Laboratory for Intensive Exploration (HKS_LINE), a design studio as well as a research and development team, will be located on this level. In addition, the office houses the HKS Virtual Theater, a place where 3D coordination, 4D planning, photorealistic visualization, dynamic simulation and accurate analysis of the project design can happen in real time. A 200-seat HKS Learning Center provides a stadium-style seating platform for knowledge sharing.

LEED Commercial Interior Platinum Thinking
The adaptive reuse and repositioning of the existing office tower into mixed use residential and office space offers a unique opportunity to achieve a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Commercial Interior Platinum Certification for the HKS headquarters. Super-efficient LED lighting technology and controls will achieve a Lighting Power Density (LPD) of 0.6 Watts/square foot (40 percent below code) while a fully integrated general office lighting and window shade automatically harvests natural light and controls the window shade system. Low-flow plumbing fixtures are selected to achieve a 40 percent overall reduction in potable water. Materials designed to be low-emitting and fewer products containing known toxins including PVC and formaldehyde were selected. The highest level of Sustainably Certified workstations available will achieve a Business & Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) Level 3 Certification. Alternative transportation is also promoted including walking, biking, busing and light rail.

Breaking Down Boundaries, Touting Technology and Showcasing the Brand
The flexible, brand-showcasing work environment plan breaks down boundaries and fosters collaboration. HKS team leaders sit within the studio workplace environment – not in separate offices – promoting full integration of the architectural team. A desking floor plan introduces low panels between people, close physical proximity to co-workers and lots of ambient light. HKS worked with Humanscale to buy ergonomic workplace products. Modifiable light fixtures, adjustable monitors, ergonomic keyboard trays and back-friendly task chairs are part of each work space.

Instead of cubicles and offices located against the windows, the sun streams into all corners of the building. Employees are encouraged and able to take their laptops anywhere in the building to work due to the 100 percent wireless environment. Technology – ranging from large-scale flat plasma screens located in 23 of the firm’s 40 conference rooms to an interactive technology wall located in the boardroom – promotes collaboration on a new level. Each floor’s design focuses on collaboration and destination spaces including the workstation zone, conference rooms and open meeting space in centrally located areas. Islands (12 per floor) promote standing collaboration and encourage movement, supporting overall wellness. Even the break rooms, with writing surfaces, encourage intermingling and idea generating. An outdoor roof desk provides a connection to nature as well as a private place for contemplation or respite.

The HKS brand – and the firm’s brand promise, “creating places that enhance the human experience” – permeates throughout the space, from the red cue at the entry portal to an interactive technology wall on the second floor to expressive and intuitive 3D wayfinding signage. Inviting, light-filled and brand storytelling stairwells promote taking the stairs and learning a little bit about the company while purposeful locations for renderings, sketches and models and tackable walls in corridors are visible inside as well as outside to walkers-by.

HKS’s Move in 1998: The Backstory
HKS was also part of the awakening in Uptown. In May 1998, HKS moved from Plaza of the Americas to the renovated 104,000-square-foot, three-story Adleta building and one-story Breckenridge Brewery to create a single, unified building at 1919 McKinney Ave. in Dallas. It was one of the first major headquarters relocated to the specific area of Uptown. At that time, construction was underway on American Airlines Center, plans were in the works for the new Victory Park and W Hotel & Residences, the Ritz-Carlton was just a scheme and new civic attractions such as the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and the Klyde Warren Park were far from finalized. The HKS headquarters was the first development on this particular edge of Uptown. Its closest neighbors were the Crescent Hotel, El Fenix and a converted home offering homemade Italian cuisine. Today, as all these projects are realized, Uptown is the chicest place in Dallas to visit, live, work and play. The area now features unique boutiques, shopping, workout facilities, grocery stores, trendy restaurants, clubs and bars as well as offices, hotels, residences and a new park.

About HKS

HKS, Inc. is a leading architectural design firm ranked among the top five architectural engineering firms, according to Building Design+Construction magazine. Since its founding in 1939, HKS has completed construction projects totaling more than $73 billion in more than 1,178 cities located in 77 countries. The firm employs 970 staff and operates from 28 offices worldwide.

For more information, contact Trish Martineck at

Posted in All Markets, Corporate/Office, Interiors
Tagged HKS Architects, HKS Corporate Headquarters, One Dallas Center