HKS’ Angela Lee Talks With Architecture & Design (AU) On Social Wellness Opportunities

Architecture Trio Forms Alliance in Preparation for Brisbane 2032

The Whole College Athlete: Designing for Success On and Off the Field

The Whole College Athlete: Designing for Success On and Off the Field

The career of a storied professional athlete begins early—with a passion and preternatural skill, neighborhood pickup games and youth sports, and finally, collegiate-level competition. University or college coaches and administrators understand this trajectory, and they’re preparing incoming student athletes for long careers, whether on or off the field. Because, on average, colleges support 20 sports programs—of which only 2% are expected to turn professional after college. It’s just the statistical reality that few athletes will become the next Tom Brady, despite the stories abounding of elite athletes playing longer into their career. This is where the concept of the “whole athlete” comes into play.

The “whole athlete” means supporting innovations for peak performance and the means to support an athlete as a well-rounded student. Today’s student-athletes represent the pinnacle of not only physical, but also mental fitness. At HKS, we’ve leveraged this concept to create guiding design principles for collegiate sports facilities, integrating health facilities and the latest science in sports medicine, brain health, and related fields.

HKS embarked on a research project in 2021 to learn more about leveraging the built environment to enhance athletic performance, recovery, and well-being. An interdisciplinary team including experts from HKS’ Sports & Entertainment and Health practices, and the firm’s Advisory Services group, identified five characteristics of facilities design that support the whole athlete. Such facilities are:

To apply this framework, we reviewed the literature to build on our acute understanding of athletes as an accumulation of experiences, from youth sports up until they step foot on campus. And we’re applying study findings to explore how these experiences intersect with the latest trends in research that bridge healthcare and medicine with facility design.

Facilities at the academic core can bind student athletes from diverse backgrounds to reap the true benefits of youth sports participation—socially, physically, and cognitively. Most origin stories begin with the true benefits of youth sports participation. Before their Hall of Fame careers—and before they stepped foot on a college campus—Tom Brady, Sue Bird, Bo Jackson, and Jim Brown came of age as multi-sport athletes. While there are risks, youth participation in organized sports is generally a net boon to mental health, as summarized by a large systematic review of the literature. Leveraging brain-health-informed environments will continue to help student-athletes in their athletic careers and beyond.

That’s our aspiration, but how do we get there? And how do we first embrace the sheer diversity of student-athletes?

Before Jimmy Butler played for Marquette and then garnered the name “Jimmy Buckets,” he slept on friends’ couches all through high school. In 2014, as the debate around pay and sponsorships first took off, former University of Connecticut basketball star, Shabazz Napier, famously stated that he often went to bed, “starving.” To add context to these anecdotes: many student athletes come from lower socio-economic backgrounds, meaning that inclusive design is a critical complement to supportive policies and practices. Once on campus, student athletes undergo athletic, academic, psychological, and psychosocial transitions—and the uniqueness of these experiences, intersecting with all that’s come in the past, means many require greater resources and coping strategies.

Taking a step back, today’s collegiate athletes differ significantly from those of previous generations: there’s increased professionalism—through sports science resources, academic resources, coaching and training opportunities. This fall, the entering class of Freshman was born in 2005, making these student-athletes digital natives. In all that’s to be considered for how today’s collegiate athletes are different than those in the past, it’s symbolic that an athlete like Paige Bueckers, UConn’s star guard, has 1 million followers on Instagram, a technology didn’t exist as Sue Bird, also a UConn alum, entered the WNBA draft in 2002.

The diversity of student-athlete backgrounds impacts planning decisions for collegiate sports facilities, too. Researchers have found that of 125 Division 1 campuses, only 13% had “athletic academic support programs located in or adjacent to the academic core of the campus.” Athletic support services removed from campuses’ academic core create a greater degree of student-athlete segregation—a clear problem that symbolically and physically removes student-athletes from the broader collegiate community.

Advancing sports medicine means better recovery, better performance, and better long-term health. Consider the following stories. In 2013, the Florida State Seminoles saw an 88% year-over-year drop in injuries because the team adopted wearable technologies from Catapult GPS. And one randomized clinical trial found that patients who received a few weeks of pain reprocessing therapy saw a significant drop in reported chronic back pain. These are advances that have significant implications for today’s student athletes. Designated recovery spaces, such as cold/hot tubs, compression therapy rooms, and foam rolling/stretching areas, can help athletes address muscle soreness, reduce inflammation, and promote relaxation after training sessions or competitions.

The average collegiate athlete spends 40 hours per week in athletic-related activities—and moderate and vigorous exercise makes up a significant portion of this time. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that Americans get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week—but only  1 in 4 Americans meets these goals, according to the CDC. There’s a healthy balance to be had—and while the average American is more likely to be overcome by a sedentary lifestyle, athletes are more concerned with burnout.

As competitive athletes push the body and mind, they also push research to show the outer bounds of what the body and mind can achieve. On this front, a research question would be: what is the body’s limit with intense exertion? NIRS is a technology that measures hemodynamic activity, or changes in blood flow, throughout the brain which shows that athletes may reach physical and cognitive exhaustion after too much exercise. Consider the extreme exertion of a marathon or a long-distance competitive swim. Researchers found that over the course of the race, participants saw 6 percent in grey matter atrophy. For student-athletes, this fact carries implications for design.

Over the past year, we’ve explored brain health in connection to office workers, but the concept has far broader implications, from college to the workforce and beyond. Cognitive fitness for athletes is a key concern that needs attention to avenues for not just mental health services, but proactive social health strategies, opportunities for creative expression, rest and recovery, and socialization.

Athletes need access to healthy choices, and design strategies to make the healthy choice the easy choice. To determine where this happens, Point-of-decision design, a “person-centric” construct provides personas and journey mapping to determine key areas. Through this lens, on-site dining and nutrition counseling provides pre-training nutrition and post-training replenishment of glycogen stores, hydration, anti-inflammation and recovery nutrition.

Recovery is pursued in tandem with better performance. Beyond medicine and nutrition, you may have read about virtual reality capabilities and bio-mechanic analyses in sports: transitioning a batter’s swing, a swimmer’s stroke, and a defenseman’s slapshot into data for next-level athletic performance. Efficiency translates into a faster time or higher shooting percentage, because altogether, each new advance means a more holistic and tailored approach for each athlete.

We’ve discussed a holistic approach to today’s athletes, and recent advents in sports medicine, and we apply these insights into the built environment.

Importantly, we’re looking to integrate principles of enriched environments to athletic facilities. Space must be integrated at multiple levels. Versatile facilities provide for multiple student-athlete needs, but without planning considerations, students may become isolated from the broader academic community. Facility design should go hand-in-hand with planning. Several colleges and universities are integrating sustainability and academic goals into the design of sports facilities. Arizona State University joined the Green Sports Alliance, pursuing zero-waste status. The Sun Devil Fitness Complex nudges athletes and visitors alike toward green behaviors, while leveraging sustainable design features.

But taking a step back for context, less than 2% of student athletes go pro, but most student-athletes either want to continue their academic studies after graduation or leverage transferable skills gained from athletic participation for a career. At the University of Florida, Trinity Thomas recently tied the record for the most perfect 10s in NCAA gymnastics history. Watch an interview here where she discusses how she got into gymnastics, and how she looks to apply a major in physiology and kinesiology to a career in sports medicine.

Consider the NCAA GOALS study, with the most-recent iteration produced in 2020. Two-thirds of student athletes wanted to pursue graduate studies, and a vast majority reported that collegiate-sports participation provided transferrable skills to future careers.

And thinking about the long term, we must focus on brain health. Design principles related to brain health brings together student and athletic needs—quiet zones, study spaces, and technology integration.

Thinking about mental well-being and brain health, the placement of facilities and academic support systems should serve to integrate student-athletes, not isolate them. In 2020, the NCAA GOALS study revealed that feeling a sense of belonging is on the rise among student athletes—although there is room for improvement. Today’s student athletes are treated uniquely but distinctly from the rest of the student body. Student athletes have unique needs, but they also want better integration with their campus peers.

Thinking about mental well-being and brain health, the placement of facilities and academic support systems should serve to integrate student-athletes, not isolate them.

All dimensions of athletic facilities begins with planning—and student athletes are a population integral to this vision. HKS’ UC San Diego North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood creates truly mixed-use experiences by first understanding how students live and learn. The campus is the largest living and learning community in the University of California system and promotes well-being and sustainability through the integration of living space, retail space, dining experiences, and outdoor and public spaces.

In all, collegiate sports facilities are advancing by incorporating innovative designs and features that support the holistic needs of student athletes, including their academic, physical, and mental well-being. These modern facilities prioritize accessibility, inclusivity, and sustainability while integrating advanced technology and resources to optimize athletic performance and recovery. By creating comprehensive and adaptable environments, collegiate sports facilities are elevating the student athlete experience and fostering success both on and off the field.

Designing Health Facilities for a Resilient Future: A Q+A with HKS’ Angela Lee

Designing Health Facilities for a Resilient Future: A Q+A with HKS’ Angela Lee

New technology, emerging medicine and shifts in public health all impact health care environments. Hospitals and clinic design must change with the times.

HKS has been committed to transformation in the design and health care industries for more than 80 years. Whether we’re building a new world-class hospital in a major city, renovating a small local clinic or anything in between, HKS designers and researchers innovate to provide cutting-edge spaces that support the well-being of patients, caregivers, and health professionals.

We talked with HKS’ Angela Lee, Partner and Managing Director of the Asia Pacific region who has led health care projects in many countries. She shared her thoughts about what she has learned throughout her career and what she sees for the future of health facilities.

After three decades of designing and planning health facilities, what do you consider to be the necessary elements for efficient health care design?

Efficient health care design begins with a thorough understanding of the evolving landscape of the industry. We need to anticipate the ongoing shifts in care delivery, address financial pressures, and prioritize patient needs. Flexibility is always key. We must create places that can adapt to advancements in health care technology and the future needs of health systems, patients, staff and caregivers.

What are some ways the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the health care industry? What trends has it accelerated?

The pandemic has acted as a catalyst, accelerating existing trends within the health care industry and increasing demand for more efficient, patient-centered care. It has heightened financial pressures, squeezed provider margins, and forced a shift to new points of care due to emerging competitors. Additionally, workforce burnout and shortages have brought staff well-being into focus, and shifting demographics have highlighted the increased need for senior care. Moreover, the mental health crisis stemming from the pandemic has become a pressing issue that needs to be addressed.

Recently, we’ve been able to get ahead of some of these pressures and address them in real time. As just one example, HKS is leveraging our design for emergency department pods, first deployed at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. With these private, secure pods, patients enjoy more comfort than they would in traditional emergency departments and hospital staff can deliver more efficient care even on their busiest days.

What ongoing impacts have you observed health care systems facing that may harder to see — things that are ‘beneath the surface’ but are causing ripple effects in the industry?

Financial pressures continue to squeeze provider margins, requiring health care facilities to find innovative solutions to deliver quality care cost-effectively. There has been a shift in care delivery. New points of care, such as telemedicine and retail clinics are challenging traditional health care settings. Additionally, workforce burnout and shortages persist, necessitating a focus on the well-being of health care professionals and exploring new staffing models.

How do you believe health care design can address the mental health crisis stemming from the pandemic?

Health care design can play a significant role in addressing mental health crises. We need to create spaces that promote healing, calmness and connection. Incorporating biophilic and natural elements, providing privacy, and designing areas for relaxation and reflection are crucial. Integrating mental health services into health care facilities and considering community-based care models can also help support individuals in need.

HKS is doing significant research and design work to understand how we can best support mental and behavioral health within the built environment. We’ve explored ways to improve care in emergency departments, as people in mental health crisis are often taken to emergency settings. We’re also  increasingly adapting and creating health facilities to provide comprehensive mental and behavioral health services, as is the case with Mount Sinai Beth Israel Comprehensive Behavioral Health Center in New York City.

How is health care technology shaping the industry? What new frontiers are you exploring?

Rapid innovation and the adoption of digital health and new technology have become essential in health care. Telemedicine, artificial intelligence, and remote patient monitoring are just a few examples of how technology is transforming care delivery. We are also exploring the potential of virtual reality, wearable devices, and robotics to further enhance patient outcomes and improve efficiency in health care delivery.

Our clients are working right alongside us to advance the intersections of technology and health care in rapidly growing cities and regions. As just one example, HKS designed and delivered the Songdo Severance Hospital in South Korea with advanced operational technology befitting Songdo’s moniker as ‘the smartest city in the world.’

As an architect, how do you balance the need for flexibility in health care design with the importance of pandemic readiness?

Flexibility and pandemic readiness go hand in hand. By designing health care facilities with adaptability in mind, we can ensure that they can respond to unforeseen challenges, such as pandemics, natural disasters, civil defense, without compromising patient care. This includes designing spaces that can be easily reconfigured, incorporating infection control measures, and implementing robust technology infrastructure to support telehealth and remote care.

For several years, HKS has been leveraging our FleXX research efforts with the Center for Advanced Design Research and Evaluation (CADRE). The FleXX framework outlines key attributes of a versatility, modifiability, convertibility and scalability and can be used to design health care projects of various types, including outpatient settings and hospitals experiencing pandemic surges. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve also conducted extensive research into how to improve hospital resilience in the face of pandemics, applying our findings to health projects globally.

What drives your passion for designing health facilities that can address the challenges of today and anticipate the needs of the future?

The opportunity to make a positive impact on people’s lives is what drives my passion for health care design. By creating facilities that are patient-centric, efficient and responsive to industry trends, we can contribute to better outcomes for patients, health care providers, and communities as a whole. It is fulfilling to design spaces that support healing, promote well-being, and enable the delivery of high-quality care.

At HKS, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work among people who share these values and work hard to improve the lives of people who encounter the places we design. Through our Health practice and our Citizen HKS initiative, we strive to provide places that enhance the well-being of communities around the world.

Global Design Firm Reaches Climate Action Milestone: HKS is Now a Carbon Neutral Business

Global Design Firm Reaches Climate Action Milestone: HKS is Now a Carbon Neutral Business

Global design firm HKS is pleased to announce that we are now a carbon neutral business.

This achievement is the result of a multi-year, multifaceted effort to monitor, reduce and offset greenhouse gas emissions produced through our business practices, such as office operations, employee travel and commutes.

“I am proud of our firm for prioritizing this effort by adapting our business practices to address critical environmental challenges that impact future generations,” said Dan Noble, HKS President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our goal as an organization is to enhance communities and the lives of people all over the world through our work, and addressing our carbon footprint is a natural next step.”

Carbon neutrality is a milestone on HKS’ journey to net zero. We are building a pathway to eliminate operational carbon from 100 percent of our active design work by 2030 and to reduce the net carbon emissions from our business operations to as close to zero as possible.

Carbon neutrality is a milestone on HKS’ journey to net zero.

Rand Ekman, Chief Sustainability Officer and a Partner at HKS, said the firm aspires to address our carbon footprint in “the most meaningful way possible.”

To accomplish this goal, HKS engaged with third-party experts to develop a rigorous and thorough methodology to calculate the firm’s emissions. As we endeavor to reduce these emissions to net zero, we are investing in carbon removal initiatives that are independently verified by leading carbon market registries. For maximum benefit, our investments include products designed to advance sustainability in the built environment. We believe high-quality carbon offsetting can be an invaluable tool to support the decarbonization of the global economy.

Data-driven Strategy

HKS worked with sustainability consultants from Omaha, Nebraska-based Verdis Group to develop and refine a comprehensive, data-driven strategy to monitor and measure our firmwide carbon emissions. Verdis Group has approved an auditing process that we will use to account for our emissions moving forward, as part of our climate action plan.

In addition, HKS partnered with Cloverly, a climate action platform headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, to curate a portfolio dedicated to carbon offsetting through carbon avoidance (preventing carbon from being released into the atmosphere) and carbon removal.

Impactful Leadership

HKS has long recognized and endeavored to mitigate negative impacts of the architecture, engineering and construction industry. The American Institute of Architects reports that the built environment is responsible for approximately 40 percent of emissions that contribute to global warming.

HKS’ history of environmental and social leadership includes joining the United Nations Global Compact in 2020. We were one of the first large multidisciplinary design firms to sign this global agreement that aligns business strategies and operations with universal sustainability principles and actions to help end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice and protect our planet.

Yiselle Santos Rivera, HKS Director of Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion and a Principal with the firm, said, “If we want to create a more just, equitable, inclusive and diverse world, we have to recognize the impact that our footprint has on our environment.”

Operating as a carbon neutral business is an important way for HKS to embody the firm’s values, said Santos Rivera.

“You have to have your house in order,” she noted. “Your actions speak louder than words.”

“Operating as a carbon neutral business is an important way for HKS to embody the firm’s values.”

A Winning Design for Championship Venues

A Winning Design for Championship Venues

For decades, Wheaties cereal has carried the tagline, “The Breakfast of Champions.” But HKS has had its own high-level championship run over the years. 

Since 2010, HKS-designed buildings have hosted Super Bowls, the World Series, NCAA Final Fours and the College Football Playoffs National Championships. The streak continued in 2021 when Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis hosted the NCAA Men’s Final Four basketball tournament for the third time. That was followed in June by the U. S. Gymnastics Championships, highlighted by Olympic Gold Medalist Simone Biles, which were held at Fort Worth’s Dickies Arena, yet another world-class venue that involved HKS designers. 

In February 2022, Super Bowl LVI was held at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. In August of that year, the Chengdu Phoenix Mountain Sports Center in China — which has one of the world’s largest curved, open cable domes — was the site of the World University Games. The Games were postponed from 2021 because of COVID-19 concerns. 

The pace hasn’t slowed down, either. The American Airlines Center in Dallas hosted the 2023 NCAA Women’s Final Four this spring, and the College Football Playoffs National Championship was held at SoFi Stadium in January. The stadium will be in the spotlight again when it hosts the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2028 Olympic Games. In 2026, it will be a host site for the World Cup, along with HKS-designed AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. 

Also upcoming are the 2026 NCAA Men’s and 2028 Women’s Final Fours at Lucas Oil Stadium, and in July of this year, SoFi Stadium will hold the CONCACAF Gold Cup Final. Arlington’s Globe Life Field will host the MLB All-Star Game in 2024.  

While the participants in championship contests are unknown at the start of their respective seasons — with the final determinations all decided on the field or court — the buildings that host them are years in the making, with the opportunity to hold championship events a major focal point of the planning and design. 

Championship Design Means Creating ‘a Wow Factor’

Although AT&T Stadium (Dallas Cowboys), U.S. Bank Stadium (Minnesota Vikings), Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis Colts) and SoFi Stadium (Los Angeles Rams and Chargers) were all designed to meet the specific desires of the home teams that play in them, the team owners also had bolder ideas for their facilities. They wanted their new sports homes to be big enough and grand enough to host Super Bowls and other high-profile events. 

As Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones put it in a 2009 Wall Street Journal article about his team’s then-new home, “we wanted this stadium to have a wow factor.”

The owners of the Texas Rangers also anticipated big things for its new HKS-designed Globe Life Field before the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly shut down those plans on the eve of Opening Day in 2020. At the time, there was no way to know it would welcome the World Series later that year, but the retractable roof stadium, with its ample concourses, swanky clubhouses and climate-controlled seating area became the perfect home after the pandemic prompted Major League Baseball to use a single site for its Fall Classic.

Those who attended Super Bowl LVI were exposed to a variety of digital upgrades. Like his Colts, Cowboys and Vikings contemporaries, Los Angeles Rams Owner and Chairman, E. Stanley Kroenke, asked HKS designers to develop plans for SoFi that would allow it to host global entertainment events and turn them into ultimate experiences for a live and television audience.

The scoreboard displays a Congratulations message to the Los Angeles Dodgers after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 in Game Six to win the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field on October 27, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images)

Staying Local and Flexible

To deliver on those requests, HKS designers approach stadium designing with some clear thoughts in mind. One design element that is a hallmark of HKS-designed stadiums are clarity of structural expression and transparency, which heightens the fan experience. So fans who walk into AT&T Stadium, Globe Life Field or SoFi Stadium will immediately recognize the ability to sort of “see through” the structures to the outside even though the stadiums themselves are enclosed or covered.

There are other important factors as well. Even though the stadiums will be showcased to the world, designers look at them as a vital and visible part of the local community. The owners of the Colts, for example, wanted the look of Lucas Oil Stadium to pay homage to the fieldhouses found throughout Indiana, while the shape of U.S. Bank Stadium reminds of Northern European design.

In addition to leaning into those roots, U.S. Bank Stadium also had to satisfy another requirement to reach championship status; designers had to figure out a way to make it withstand Minnesota’s harsh climate. They designed the first ETFE roof in an American stadium, which allows lots of natural light while blocking the brutal cold. This design element was put to the test in February 2018 during Super Bowl LII, the coldest Super Bowl on record with temperatures in Minneapolis reaching a high of 9°F on game day. 

And at SoFi Stadium, architects had to embed it 100 feet into the ground so that it wouldn’t interfere with flights in and out of Los Angeles International Airport, which sits just three miles away. But the deep dig and the stadium’s proximity to LAX also provided designers with a unique opportunity to use the stadium’s roof — which contains LED lights — as a sort of real-time projection screen for passengers flying overhead.

In the case of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, he wanted AT&T Stadium to maintain a tangible link back to the team’s iconic former home, Texas Stadium. So, the design for the new stadium’s signature retractable roof includes a “hole” in it when the roof is open that exactly matches the shape of the hole at the old stadium, including its rounded corners.

In addition, the stadiums all are designed to have a high degree of flexibility. Designers created AT&T Stadium with not only the ability to host championship football contests from high school to pros, but ones for college basketball or even professional Motocross. 

And the ability to quickly and seamlessly provide multiple uses isn’t limited to the world of traditional sporting events. With Major League Baseball shut down at the time, the first events at Globe Life Field in 2020 were local high school graduations. The inaugural event at SoFi Stadium was scheduled to be a two-day Taylor Swift concert before COVID-19 disrupted those plans.

An Enhanced Fan Experience

To offer those various events, though, requires that designers and their clients team up to create a greatly enhanced fan experience. For the past decade or so, team owners have realized that simply making a trip to a stadium to see their favorite player is not enough for most fans. Their guests want to know what they are going to see — and do — once they get there. If it’s not glitzy enough, many patrons will opt to stay home and watch games from the less-expensive comfort of their own TV rooms.

For most stadiums designed recently, that enhanced fan experience begins with upgraded technology features, particularly a large, high-tech videoboard.  When AT&T Stadium opened in 2009, it held what was then the largest LED videoboard in the world, stretching from one 20-yard line to the other. The high-definition Mitsubishi picture gave fans seated at the highest points of the stadium, the ability to watch a game as if they were watching at home on their own big-screen televisions. And that was the point.

But SoFi Stadium, which opened without fans in 2020, is the newest king of championship stadium design. It’s 2.2-million-pound, dual-sided, center-hung, circular scoreboard is largest ever built and will provide practically every fan who visits, no matter where inside SoFi they sit or stand, with a simultaneous view of the information on the screen.

The videoboard is the only 4K end-to-end production in sports and features the largest LED content playback system in history. The board also provides fans with unique programming including live content, statistics and animated content — important data for aficionados of the increasingly popular fantasy sports leagues.

“For us, it was how would we go about thinking about reconnecting fans with media in a different way,” said Lance Evans, AIA, a principal at HKS and one of the primary SoFi architects. “If I was going to watch a game at home, I’d have my iPad, I’d have my phone. How could we do that at an NFL game, at the same size, across the entire field?”

So, what will the design of the next Super Bowl or World Series stadium look like? HKS designers already have some ideas that Evans describes as both “exciting and endless.” Among them, pushing the concept of the “stadium” beyond its limited physical footprint into the limitless virtual realm.

“The integration of technology in physical environments extends venue access exponentially,” said Mark A. Williams, FAIA, HKS Principal in Charge of the SoFi Stadium project. “Imagine a venue that sells 70,000 physical tickets to an event and leveraging technology to reach previously untapped audiences and markets around the globe.”

And that means that perhaps one day soon, a championship venue will exist at anytime and anywhere.

HKS and AIA Publish Resilience Design Toolkit

HKS and AIA Publish Resilience Design Toolkit

Download the Toolkit

Billion-dollar disasters are becoming more frequent, threatening the health, infrastructure and social, financial and environmental well-being of communities worldwide.

In response to these pressing issues, global design firm HKS and the American Institute of Architects announce the publication of the Resilience Design Toolkit. HKS and AIA created this new resource to help architects anticipate hazards that may arise throughout a building’s life and provide features to reduce risk and vulnerability.

Rand Ekman, Chief Sustainability Officer and a Partner at HKS, said the firm is gratified “to help advance the industry in partnership with the AIA” through this publication.

The Resilience Design Toolkit is a guide to designing for resilience, or what architect Sammy Shams, a Sustainable Design Professional at HKS and one of the authors of the Toolkit, described as the capacity to “adapt, withstand and bounce back faster” after a catastrophe.

“In the face of uncertainty and the imperative for future-proofing, architects encounter significant hurdles. Yet, armed with the Resilience Design Toolkit, we hold the potential to revolutionize resilience, making it accessible and fair. By leveraging this toolkit, architects can serve as catalysts, fostering the development of remarkable, resilient and sustainable communities,” said Luz Toro, AIA Manager, Resilience & Climate Adaptation.

The Resilience Design Toolkit originated from the work of a taskforce HKS assembled in 2019 to better understand the effects of sea level rise on coastal projects. This led to subsequent research the firm conducted in 2021 and 2022 to explore resilience design and develop a tool to help architects on all types of projects assess potential hazards objectively and mitigate the effects of these hazards through design.

The Toolkit details five steps for integrating resilience thinking into a project, beginning with architects’ initial interactions with client and community stakeholders and continuing through post-occupancy. These steps are intended to serve as a framework for evaluating and implementing resilience design strategies.

The Toolkit also provides an overview of resilience design; a glossary of relevant terms and acronyms; and descriptions of other tools, processes, ratings and certifications that make up the resilience landscape.

In addition to the Resilience Design Toolkit, HKS is announcing a new service the firm is offering to advise clients in making resilience design decisions.

“We want to help our clients position their real estate assets to be successful for years,” said Ekman. “The underlying purpose of doing this kind of work is to help our communities and help our clients.”

Download the Toolkit

How Design Supports Improved Pediatric Mental and Behavioral Health Outcomes

How Design Supports Improved Pediatric Mental and Behavioral Health Outcomes

Children and adolescents are experiencing mental and behavioral health issues in significantly rising numbers. A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study of recent trends in children’s health revealed that between 2016 and 2020, the number of children aged 3-17 diagnosed with anxiety rose 29 percent and the number of those with depression increased 27 percent.

The Covid-19 pandemic further exacerbated the mental health crisis among children and adolescents. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emergency department pediatric visits related to mental health conditions increased in January 2022 compared to 2019.

Teen girls are especially at risk. In February, the CDC reported that between 2011 and 2021, the percentage of teenage boys who persistently felt sad or hopeless rose from 21 percent to 29 percent, while the percentage of teenage girls who persistently felt sad or hopeless rose from 36 percent to 57 percent – a nearly 60 percent increase. The findings reveal nearly 30 percent of teen girls have seriously considered suicide.

In addition, more than half (52 percent) of teens who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or questioning reported they have recently experienced poor mental health and 22 percent of LGBTQ+ teens attempted suicide in the past year.

As the CDC noted in its report, “These data make it clear that young people in the U.S. are collectively experiencing a level of distress that calls on us to act.”

The design world is responding with research into how design can support pediatric mental and behavioral health. During my 2021-2022 Health Fellowship at HKS, I explored evidence-based design for pediatric mental and behavioral health environments. There are several key factors driving design for this patient population:

Increasing Number of Pediatric Mental and Behavioral Health Patients

The rising utilization of mental health care for children and adolescents has paved the way for an increase in demand, access and government investments in pediatric mental and behavioral health care.

Focus on Family-centered Care for Improved Long-term Outcomes

Children’s emotional well-being greatly depends on their parents’ well-being, so it is imperative to actively include family in the treatment journey.


Due to the wide age range within the pediatric inpatient population, there is an increasing emphasis for unit adaptability in health facilities to provide appropriate treatment and care for all young age groups.

Growing Emphasis on Therapeutic Design to Support Improved Outcomes

There is a focus on child-centered care to improve long-term outcomes and reduce re-admittance rates. Improvements in therapeutic interventions (sensory rooms, meditation/quiet rooms, outdoor activity spaces, etc.) have resulted in treatment occurring away from the patient room. There is a pressing need to provide a variety of spaces to accommodate children and adolescents’ need for play and respite.

Welcoming Spaces for Children, Adolescents and Families

HKS strives to create environments that support improved mental and behavioral health outcomes for children and adolescents and ease their families’ stress and anxiety.

Baylor Scott & White All Saints Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Unit, Fort Worth, Texas

For example, Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center’s Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Unit in Fort Worth, Texas is designed to meet the unique biological, medical and psychosocial needs of AYA cancer patients, which differ from those of adult patients.

Six patient rooms are centered on a shared work core that encourages collaboration between nurses and physicians and fosters a sense of community on the unit. Murphy beds make overnight stays comfortable for family and encourage family involvement in patient care. Each room has a unique color scheme to accommodate varying patient preferences. Patients can further individualize the walls of their rooms with colorful vinyl images of rocks that can be rearranged and stacked into cairns to mark patients’ progress along their treatment journey.

College Hill Behavioral Residential Building at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

The design of the College Hill Behavioral Residential Building at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) reinforces CCHMC’s support and commitment to children, teens and families dealing with behavioral or mental health challenges. The space is bright, welcoming and designed to aid visitor wayfinding and access. Accommodations for family members enable families to relax and interact with their loved ones and CCHMC staff.

Sensory Wellbeing Hub at Lane Tech College Prep High School, Chicago

The Sensory Well-being Hub at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago services special education students who struggle with sensory equilibrium. The hub’s modular design enables each student to create an experience that allows them to refocus and calm down on their own terms. The demountable framing structure resembles a high-tech playset, providing places for activities ranging from quiet to stimulating. Audio, visual, kinesthetic and tactile features help students “reset.” A media wall system houses a touchscreen monitor, color changing lights and a sound system — all sensory elements that are controlled and customized per the user’s preferences.

Chase Child Life Zone at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles

The Garth Brooks Foundation chose UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital for its first West Coast Teammates for Kids installation. This was the initial project of this type and complexity to be built in an acute care hospital regulated by California’s Department of Health Care Access and Information, which requires adherence to strict structural and architectural regulations. Kids of all ages can access a variety of age-appropriate therapeutic play and learning spaces that are custom-designed and centered on the theme, “Exploring Los Angeles.” The space enhances the efforts of Child Life practitioners who work with the hospital’s entire multi-disciplinary team to promote coping, create meaningful memories of play and enhance the overall health care experience for young patients and their families.

Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital, Baton Rouge

In addition to providing a warm healing environment for its young patients, Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge serves the larger community as a gathering place for education and recreation. The hospital is surrounded by gardens with bird houses and an entertainment pavilion.

Kay Jewelers Pavilion at Akron Children’s Hospital

The main lobby of Kay Jewelers Pavilion at Akron Children’s Hospital acts as an extension of the adjacent park and features a Backyard theme, complete with a floor-to-ceiling white fiberglass tree and a bright blue “fence” wall with peek-a-boo cutouts and interactive animal elements. Bright colors and distinctive shapes capture a sense of favorite childhood places to play – rain puddles and the backyard sandbox. The “garden” on the Obstetrics floor features cool colors and artwork inspired by nature. Silhouettes and leaf patterning in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit create the cozy sense of being in a treehouse. 

HKS’ Angela Lee Goes Global with Thoughtful Health Care Designs

HKS’ Angela Lee Goes Global with Thoughtful Health Care Designs

When HKS Principal and Asia Pacific Managing Director Angela Lee finished architecture school in 1994, she knew just what she wanted to do — and exactly where she wanted to do it.

While preparing to present her final design project at the University of Oklahoma, Lee noticed that the jury included Joe Buskhul, then the President of HKS. She recognized him from an inspiring class visit to the firm’s Dallas headquarters earlier in the semester.

“I walked up in front of the jury and said, ‘I’m very nervous because Mr. Buskhul is here today and I really want to work for HKS’,” Lee recounted.

She needn’t have worried. Lee promptly received a job offer and two weeks later, she started at HKS. It has been her professional home ever since.

After working for more than two decades out of Dallas, growing into a celebrated global health care designer and leader along the way, Lee relocated to Singapore in 2016 and established the HKS office there. She now oversees the firm’s practice throughout the entire Asia Pacific region.

Moving to Singapore was a return home to Asia for Lee, who grew up in Hong Kong in the 1970s and 80s when it was still under British rule. Looking back on her childhood, she describes her upbringing and family structure as conventional — her father worked in government service and her mother worked at home raising Lee and her two younger siblings.

“We were your classic Asian family,” she said. “My sister and I played piano, my brother played violin, dad worked, and mom took care of three kids.”

Lee in the 1970s outside her family home in Hong Kong.

But her parents did everything they could to subvert traditional gender norms common in Asian families of the time, Lee said. They enrolled her in one of the top Catholic girls’ schools in Hong Kong and encouraged her to study hard so she would be prepared to enter the workforce one day. Her father gave her extra assignments outside of school so she could continue her studies at home.

“My dad has always pushed me, which was very unusual for a girl. He wanted to make sure I had a good education,” she said.

Taking a Leap Toward Architecture

Driven by a desire to immigrate to the United States before Britain’s lease on Hong Kong came to an end, Lee’s family moved to Oklahoma in 1989, where they joined one of her uncles. The move came just in time for Lee to start college and she took her hardworking spirit to the University of Oklahoma. But architecture school wasn’t initially on her radar.

“I really liked art and science. From the eye of an 18-year-old, architecture jumped out to me as something where I could do both,” said Lee, who followed her gut when selecting a major. She was immediately excited with the curriculum and by her classmates, thrilled that her instincts led to such a good match.

“I really liked art and science…architecture jumped out to me as something where I could do both.”

Not long after she started school, Lee’s mother, father, and brother unexpectedly returned to Hong Kong — her mother was diagnosed with cancer and went home to be surrounded by a larger support system. Lee stayed in Oklahoma, living with her teenage sister while she attended design studios and other college courses.

At 19, Lee met a graduate student named Lawrence and two years later, they married. And when the couple moved to Dallas upon her graduation, they began to look after Lee’s pre-teen brother who had returned from overseas to continue his education in Texas.

Lee says that going through such major life changes in rapid succession wasn’t easy, but that overall, she has had a linear trajectory.

“I would say my life is straight forward. I went from one family to another family, from one school to another school, then to a firm for 28 years,” she said.

Finding Footing as a Professional

When she first started her career in 1994, Lee said there were relatively few women architects working in the field compared with today. The women at HKS have always been a source of great comfort and inspiration for her.

“The most important thing to me throughout my career has been the support of women at HKS. They have kept me grounded and shown me how to be a professional,” Lee said.

One of those influential women is Anita Linney-Isaacson, an architect who recently retired from HKS. Linney-Isaacson said that the small group of women architects who worked at HKS in the early 1990s has remained ‘tight knit’ throughout the years as they’ve watched Lee grow and become an important contributor to the firm’s global success.

“Early in her career Angela looked to us for leadership and guidance, but she has proven herself to be a smart businesswoman,” Linney-Isaacson said. “I am always amazed by her drive and dedication.”

Lee (left center) on a ranch field trip with HKS colleagues and friends in the 1990s.

Lee said geniality and support have been embedded in her HKS experience from day one, both among those women as well as the men who led practice areas and ran the business. Firm leaders often encouraged her to speak up during project meetings and share opinions about how they could promote professional growth. Lee and fellow young designers advocated for a new title structure for early-career professionals, ultimately gaining leaders’ support to create the Forum, a group that continues to be an integral operational body within HKS today.

Discovering a Passion for Health Care Design

It was also in those early years when Lee took opportunities to grow as a designer, working in different practice areas to gain experience.

Lee fondly recalls a health sector project she worked on then, Obici Hospital in Suffolk, Virginia. Shortly after the building opened, she travelled there to assist with a nighttime photoshoot. As she waited for the photographer — alone in a vacant lobby — an elderly man entered the space and approached her. Lee was frightened at first, unsure of what he wanted, but that emotion transformed to empathy when the man told her that he had written a poem for his critically ill wife and asked if he could read it to her. When he was finished, Lee shared that she had helped design the hospital.

“He said thank you for designing such a beautiful space…and my interpretation was that he was thankful for a nice place to write a poem for his dying wife,” Lee said. “That is when I figured out that I could do good, that working in health care is making a career out of helping people.”

“Working in health care is making a career out of helping people.”

A moonlit photo of Obici Hospital taken that night — the same night Lee chose to dedicate her career to designing health care spaces — hangs in the HKS Dallas office lobby to this day.

Understanding the needs of people who use health care spaces is in Lee’s DNA. She has witnessed her mother battle and survive cancer three times, learned about medicine from her doctor uncle in Oklahoma, and watched the journey of her brother, who also became a doctor. These personal connections to health care have allowed her to develop empathy for patients and caregivers.

“My family has helped me understand the human side of health care. I’ve met with brain surgeons and Chief Medical Officers for projects…and I look at them and think, they’re just like my uncle and brother. They’re human. I am able to listen to them and their concerns,” Lee said.

Lee extends her empathy and care-giving nature to her communities in Asia and the U.S through volunteer work as well. As a long-serving board member of Mosaic Family Services, a non-profit that offers free services to victims of human rights abuses, she has raised funds for and provided direct aid to countless survivors.

She also regularly participates on committees with professional organizations such as Urban Land Institute, Global Health Services Network, and The American Institute of Architects, which elevated her to Fellow this year, the highest of the organization’s membership honors.

Solving Design Challenges Around the World

When HKS opened the firm’s Singapore office in 2016, it was, in part, a culmination of Lee’s long-term efforts to bring her and her colleagues’ design expertise to health care systems in the region.

“Angela believed that there was opportunity in Southeast Asia and began traveling to the region as a young architect, developing relationships that would eventually grow into enough business to establish a presence,” Linney-Isaacson said.

Another HKS architect, Chad Porter, says Lee “built a lot of groundwork and connections” with prospective clients including ParkwayHealth, a Singaporean-based hospital system with buildings throughout East and Southeast Asia. Porter and Lee developed a strong relationship while working on the competition-winning design for ParkwayHealth Gleneagles Shanghai International Hospital in 2014.

Lee soon invited Porter and his wife, HKS architect and medical planner, Julia Hager, to join her from the U.S. as she launched the small but mighty Singapore office.

“When we first moved there, we were staying in her house and working in the living room during the day,” Porter said, adding that the office’s five initial employees soon outgrew that space and several co-working spaces as the business expanded.

Original HKS Singapore team members including Angela Lee, Chad Porter and Julia Hager celebrate winter holidays.

Within the first year, HKS rented and sustainably renovated a historic Singaporean shophouse to be a permanent office. Porter said that when he and Hager moved back to the U.S. to start their family a few years later, there were 25 employees working there.

Under Lee’s leadership and with her savvy business acumen helping to carve the path, HKS Singapore has grown over the last six years to include 40 employees hailing from a dozen countries.

Lee identified two major challenges facing health care in Asia that she and her Singapore-based team work to address: viral illness and equitable care for older adults. She has seen first-hand how population growth and density have exacerbated both — even before COVID-19, she saw some hospitals fully shut down when viruses spread. She also noticed that many health care systems and governments aren’t properly planning adequate facilities to provide care for a rapidly growing population of elders.

“In Asia, you don’t have to dig deep for these kinds of problems, they are very in your face,” she said, noting that these areas are natural for her to focus on because she has aging parents and lives in a very dense city herself.

Combining her knowledge of international health standards and awareness of what the Asia Pacific region needs, Lee engages users and leverages design thinking to create pandemic resilient and equitable care environments. In her almost 30 years as a designer, she has contributed to approximately 12 million square feet of health facilities around the world including hospitals and clinics in countries such as the United States, India, Ethiopia, China, Singapore, Vietnam and The Philippines.

Building Personal Connections and Empowering Others

Though based in Singapore full time, Lee travels to the U.S. frequently for work and family time. Her husband Lawrence, who Linney-Isaacson calls “Angela’s biggest cheerleader” is still based in Dallas where he leads the Americas division of a Taiwanese-based technology company.

Lee also often takes adventurous trips with HKS colleagues from across the decades including Linney-Isaacson, who says Lee “watches over her flock” from their vacation destinations, sometimes taking middle-of-the-night meetings to ensure project teams have her support.

Lee and her husband Lawrence vacationing in Iceland with HKS friends and colleagues.

Porter also said Lee dedicates most of her time to her work, and that her cleverness and unconventional problem solving are what make her a thoughtful architect and supportive team leader.

“There are people where if something doesn’t go as prescribed, they see it like a roadblock or they don’t know how to go about it. For her, it’s not like that. She knows how to navigate things and people,” he said.

Hager called Lee “fearless,” for the way she expertly rises to challenges, putting forth the right design solutions while tailoring her leadership style so teams can do their best work.

“Angela has taught me to be confident in my knowledge and humble in my lack of knowledge, to see an individual as an individual and also see them as part of a bigger collective,” she said.

Andrew Colling

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SoFi Stadium Wins 2021 Prix Versailles World Prize for Architecture and Design

SoFi Stadium Wins 2021 Prix Versailles World Prize for Architecture and Design

HKS-designed SoFi Stadium has won the 2021 Prix Versailles World Prize for Architecture and Design in the Sports category. The Prix Versailles, in conjunction with UNESCO, honors outstanding architecture around the world that promotes the intersection of culture, economy and social recognition through beautiful and sustainable design.
SoFi Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers, is the world’s first true indoor-outdoor stadium, providing the feel of a venerable open-air stadium while providing the flexibility of a traditional domed structure. It is designed to enhance the experiences of everyone from the first-time fan to longtime season-ticket holders and at 3.1 million square feet (288,500 square meters), the 70,000-seat stadium is the largest in the National Football League. It is the centerpiece of a three-venue entertainment destination that also includes the 6,000-seat YouTube Theater and the 3-acre American Airlines Plaza, all three of which can operate independently of each other.

Anchored 100 feet below ground to comply with strict federal flight regulations due to its close proximity to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and designed to withstand seismic events, SoFi Stadium offers guests sweeping landscaped paths or “canyons” to help them navigate to their seats; constant and calming Pacific breezes; and the mammoth Samsung Infinity Videoboard, a 2-million pound, dual-sided, 4K LED scoreboard that provides real-time visuals and information to fans from any place in the venue.

The stadium’s single-layer ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) roof allows ample natural light and serves as a single canopy covering all three SoFi venues. The ETFE film features a 65% frit pattern that protects guests from direct sunlight and reduces solar gain into the venue, and an LED system embedded into the panels of the roof allows passengers flying in and out of LAX to see live stadium feeds from the air.

Designing a Better Future: Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

Flexibility is Key to Gold Medal Stadium Design, from Tokyo to LA

Flexibility is Key to Gold Medal Stadium Design, from Tokyo to LA

Japan’s decision not to allow spectators at the 2021 Olympic Games because of the COVID-19 pandemic means that fans won’t be able to witness the Summer Olympics pageantry in person until 2024 in Paris.

But if France is still a bit too far American fans to travel, take heart. The 2028 Games will be held in Los Angeles with HKS-designed SoFi Stadium serving as the host venue for the elegant splendor of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Although the massive stadium will rightfully garner more than its fair share of attention as the spectacular new home of the National Football League’s Los Angeles Rams and Chargers, SoFi Stadium — and the venues around it — are much more than that.

The SoFi Stadium campus is a world-class entertainment destination that is at once both a tourist attraction and revenue driver. It is a site that will cater to sports and non-sports fans alike, with the ability to host events ranging from soccer matches to concerts to high-profile award shows.

Jennifer Lopez and Guadalupe Rodríguez perform onstage during Global Citizen VAX LIVE: The Concert To Reunite The World at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Global Citizen VAX LIVE)

But that’s not all. The unique architectural design provides unmatched user flexibility including for nearby Inglewood residents who can use it daily to simply bike or jog around 25 acres of parks and open space, or for local officials who can use it for a bevy of community activities such as a voting precinct or temporary medical care spot.

In many cases, this smorgasbord of activities can take place simultaneously. While a football game is being played inside SoFi Stadium, a concert could be happening inside the 6,000-seat YouTube Theater while non-sports or concert fans frolic or picnic at Lake Park. Or at times, the venues within the 298-acre space could work in unison to host a single massive event such as an Olympics.

The crown jewel of the site, though, remains the 70,000-seat SoFi Stadium. Designed and built to provide the ultimate fan experience, those inside SoFi will experience an array of 21st Century sights and sounds including the world’s largest videoboard, a circular dual-sided operation that weighs 2.2 million pounds, features 80 million LED pixels and at 120 yards in length, is longer and wider than the field below it. In addition, the stadium’s sound system will use 260 speakers that are the equivalent of 1,500 home entertainment systems. And even in the unlikely event of rain, patrons and athletes will be protected by a roof made of ETFE held down at four corners to create the world’s first true indoor/outdoor stadium.

And fans on the ground inside the stadium won’t be the only ones who get to personally witness the festivities. A system of LED “pucks” embedded in the stadium roof allows passengers flying into or out of nearby LAX to watch whatever event is taking place under the roof in real-time.

Taken together, SoFi Stadium and the surrounding Hollywood Park — the largest mixed-used development under construction in the Western United States — will revitalize the city of Inglewood, where it’s located. It will provide thousands of jobs and opportunities while boosting overall tourism for the Los Angeles area by attracting world-class events year-round.

And while the 2028 Olympic Games will give the world the chance to see and experience the range of SoFi Stadium, there are several other stadiums around the globe whose user flexibility highlights the fan experience and revenue-generating capabilities that are now the hallmark of the HKS Sports Design Team.

Going Abroad

Chengdu Phoenix Hill Sports Park is one such international venue designed by HKS with flexibility and scale in mind. While many new sports venues in China sit inactive after big competitions, HKS envisioned Chengdu Phoenix Hill Sports Park as a state-of-the-art venue for major global sporting events and a public place where the community can gather throughout the year.

The team designed a massive sports center and a public square or “urban living room” that can accommodate a variety of outdoor events throughout the year including parties, exhibitions, concerts and festivals. The venues can also handle a full range of sporting events including soccer (football), basketball, ice hockey, badminton, table tennis, handball and gymnastics. And those venues can provide retractable seating and stage options. The sports park is set to host the 31st World University Games’ basketball competition in 2022 and the 18th Asian Cup in 2023.

Chengdu Phoenix Hill Sports Park, Chengdu, Sichuan, China

Perth, Australia is the site of HKS-designed Optus Stadium, which hosts a variety of events including cricket and soccer matches, major concerts and, of course, Australian Rules Football contests. The pitch is oval-shaped to accommodate cricket matches in addition to other types of sporting events. Designers also lowered the seating bowl to give fans exceptional views and bring them closer to the action on the field.

Non-sports enthusiasts who visit the area around Optus Stadium will have access to an amphitheater, children’s playgrounds and picnic areas. There are wheelchairs positions at every level and more than 70 universally accessible toilets throughout the facility for disabled fans.

Optus Stadium, Perth, Australia, In association with Cox Architecture and Hassell Studio

In León, Guanajuato, Mexico, the new Estadio León and its nearby multi-use development will host up to 35,000 professional soccer fans when it opens 2023 to replace the former Estadio León built in 1967. The new stadium, which is designed to honor the region’s connection to the leather tanning industry, is expected to become the home of the Club León football (soccer) team.

Another HKS-designed international venue is Mosaic Stadium in Saskatchewan, Canada. The home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League has built-in flexibility to accommodate concerts, FIFA soccer matches and a variety of cultural and entertainment events with a 33,000-seat capacity that is expandable to 40,000 seats. The design of the roof form and the location of building massing were sculpted to shield fans and players from the prevailing northern winter winds and to shed snow accumulations. The playing surface was set below grade to aid both the climatic response as well as the visual impact to the surrounding developments.

Mosaic Stadium, Saskatchewan, Canada

Reaching Back to the U.S.

HKS designers have also created iconic stadiums and facilities back in the United States that have or will serve as hosts for some of the world’s most iconic sporting events. AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, and U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis have all hosted NFL Super Bowls. And SoFi Stadium will join that illustrious list in February 2022 when it welcomes Super Bowl LVI.

Meanwhile, just down the street from AT&T Stadium, Globe Life Field — the new home of Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers — served as the single site for the 2020 World Series. Major League Baseball, because of COVID-19 concerns, chose to hold its Fall Classic at the stadium, which features a 240,000 square-foot (22,297 square meters) retractable roof and an 8,700 square-foot (808 square meters) right-field scoreboard that sits over the field of play. It is the only such arrangement in MLB.

The Los Angeles Dodgers win the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field on October 27, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images)

The United States Tennis Association National Campus near Orlando features dozens of modernized courts with various surfaces, a training center, housing facilities and administrative office space for the United States Tennis Association. More than two dozen PlaySight SmartCourts have video cameras, and a kiosk allows players and coaches to stop practice and watch instant replay or monitor stats from every match or drill.

The campus, which hosted the 2019 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships and will do so again in 2022 and 2023, attracts tennis players from the United States and around the world to plan and train at the high-tech site.

United States Tennis Association National Campus, Lake Nona, Florida, USA

And in Grand Prairie, Texas, in the shadows of AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Field, HKS is designing Major League Cricket’s first major stadium in the U.S., with the hope of building other cricket facilities across the country as the sport seeks to expands its reach in the United States.

HKS designers will convert a former minor league baseball stadium in Grand Prairie into a cricket ground and the USA Cricket headquarters. Once complete in 2022, the venue will be able to host international cricket matches and related events. And those contests could be the prelude to moving the sport to an even bigger stage. The International Cricket Council (ICC) is lobbying to have cricket, which is extremely popular internationally, added as an Olympic sport during the 2028 Games at . . . SoFi Stadium.

Perth Children’s Hospital, Designed by HKS, JCY, Cox and Billard Leece Partnership

Optus Stadium

Case Study

Optus Stadium Massive LED Lighting System and Specially-Made Roof Provide a Home for Both Sports and Non-Sports Enthusiasts

Perth, Australia

The Challenge

To design a stadium that meets the dual goal of serving as a multipurpose modern sports facility as well as a useful destination for citizens and non-sporting activities.

The Design Solution

Optus Stadium is home to both the West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Dockers of the Australian Rules Football League. Designers used anodized aluminum on the stadium’s bronze façade to reflect the special geology of Western Australia by day, and a 15,000-light LED system at night that can highlight the team colors of either the Eagles or the Dockers. The pitch is oval-shaped to accommodate cricket matches in addition to other types of sporting events. Designers also lowered the seating bowl to give fans exceptional views and bring them closer to the action on the field. The structure’s lightweight fabric roof, created specifically for the stadium, provides shelter to 85 percent of the facility’s 60,000-seats. The project’s responsible design not only celebrates the six seasons recognized by Australia’s indigenous community, it also includes a network of walking and cycling trails, as well as playgrounds, picnic areas and a boardwalk for use by the public. HKS is part of the WESTADIUM consortium that includes Hassell Studio and Cox Architecture.

The Design Impact

Optus Stadium will host a variety of events including cricket and soccer matches and major concerts, in addition to Australian Rules Football contests. Non-sports enthusiasts who come to the area around the stadium will have access to an amphitheater, children’s playgrounds and picnic areas. Disabled fans were kept in mind throughout the design process and there are wheelchairs positions at every level and more than 70 universally accessible toilets throughout the facility.

Project Features


Angela Lee


Case Studies


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HKS-Designed Optus Stadium Lights Up Perth

The Royal Children’s Hospital

Case Study

The Royal Children’s Hospital A Place for Children to Thrive

Melbourne, Australia

The Challenge

The Royal Children’s Hospital has a rich history of caring for children and families that dates to 1870. Today, the research and training facility provides clinical services and tertiary care, serving as the designated state-wide major trauma centre for paediatrics in Victoria, Australia, and a Nationally Funded Centre for cardiac and liver transplantation.

The hospital’s 1960’s-era building was outdated. The hospital needed a replacement facility to support the latest technology and care protocols. Hospital leaders and stakeholders wanted to create an environment designed to meet the needs of young patients and their families and reflect the growing research into the important role nature can play in healing. They wanted to honor the local landscape and the traditional owners of the land on which the building is situated, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation.

The Design Solution

The new Royal Children’s Hospital, designed by HKS, Billard Leece Partnership and Bates Smart, features playful spaces, connections to nature and areas for family interaction and support.

Colourful sunshades on the building’s exterior give the hospital a welcoming appearance. The cheerful palette carries throughout the facility. Whimsical, large-scale sculptures; a two-storey coral reef aquarium; a meerkat enclosure that houses what the hospital describes as “nine cheeky and inquisitive meerkats” cared for by Melbourne Zoo staff; interactive science displays; a cinema and secure outdoor playgrounds are among the features designed to delight and distract young patients.

Specialist clinics are co-located on the ground floor to provide convenient, quality care. Flexible waiting areas allow families to access the aquarium, meerkat enclosure, retail and food outlets, gardens and play areas while awaiting appointments.

To simplify wayfinding, each level of the hospital has a theme inspired by a local region. Patient wards are brightened by artwork, graphics and signage highlighting native Australian plants and animals related to these themes.

More than 85 percent of the hospital’s patient rooms are single-bed rooms, for an improved experience for patients and families. Eighty percent of the patient rooms have a view of a large neighboring park, while the remaining 20 percent have views of hospital gardens or courtyards.

Amenities for families include a generous resource and respite space with a business center, kitchen, and quiet rooms for sleeping or resting; a prayer and meditation area that includes a peaceful outdoor terrace; and the Wadja Aboriginal Family Place, a dedicated space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

In addition to creating a friendly environment for patients, families and staff, the hospital is designed to care for the Earth. Green design features at the facility reduce water and energy consumption as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

The Design Impact

The State Government of Victoria, which oversaw the Royal Children’s Hospital project, reported the replacement facility provides the capacity to treat an additional 35,000 patients each year; offers more accommodations for parents; features more play areas and better park access; includes state-of-the-art research and education facilities and includes a range of shops and services for staff, patients, families, carers and visitors. The facility upholds Royal Children’s Hospital’s tradition of caregiving and supports the hospital’s commitment to improving health outcomes for children today and in the future.

Project Features