June 15, 2016
Lauren Stark, HKS Chicago

Hello! My name is Lauren from the HKS Chicago Office.  Born and raised in North Carolina, I studied architecture at NC State (go pack!) and moved to Miami, FL for my Master’s degree from the University of Miami.  I’ve since been a southern transplant surviving Midwest winters and working for HKS in the Windy City for the last three years. 

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I am extremely honored to have the opportunity to live and work in London for three months through the HKS Xchange Fellowship.  The first part of the journey has been nothing short of amazing and the weeks have flown by extremely fast!  Here’s what London life has been like so far…

THE FLAT

The London flat is what the Brits would call very “posh,” a one-bedroom apartment in the middle of the ritzy London neighborhood, Chelsea.  The neighborhood is full of beautiful buildings and streetscapes lined with high-end shops and restaurants.  I’ve frequented the Saturday food market in Duke of York Square, (thanks to previous London Xchanger Katie’s recommendation!) and have loved taking the 10-minute walk to quaint and beautiful Sloane Square in the mornings to catch the bus to work. 

THE OFFICE

HKS London sits right in the center of Soho, a dense neighborhood in the West End packed with people most hours of the day: tourists going to theater shows, professionals going to work, those heading to nice restaurants, people drinking outside of the pubs, the bar/night club crowd, and probably more.  HKS has two levels in a modern building on Dean Street. 

Currently, the London office has 60+ professionals (and growing) working across five markets: Hospitality, Sports, Corporate Interiors, Education and Healthcare.  I can’t say enough great things to describe the HKS London team.  They are an extremely hardworking group with great comradery, and they also know how to have a good time. 

The office is truly global with a huge percentage of employees originating from outside of the UK, somewhere around 22 different nationalities total if I heard that correctly?  In nine weeks, I’ve gotten to know so many talented people with unique and diverse expertise and all levels of experience.

I spent my first two weeks in the office working with the Healthcare team on a large UK hospital project, I worked for five weeks with the Sports group on several projects out of Belgium, Qatar, and LA, and I have also been able to work with the Hospitality team in the last few weeks as well on a project in Jeddah. 

THE CITY

I didn’t think it was possible to find another city that I loved as much as I love Chicago, but London is quickly getting there.  Although, coming from a city where pedestrians have the right-of-way, I learned within the first 24 hours that this is not the case in London.  Between the architecture, the people, the food and the culture, London has been hard to beat. 

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Kings Cross Station

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Trooping of the Colour Ceremony

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St. Paul's Cathedral

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Serpentine Summer Pavillion, Hyde Park 


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