Brad Robichaux

Introducing HKS’ BLACK Collective: A Conversation with Ashli Hall

Introducing HKS’ BLACK Collective: A Conversation with Ashli Hall

Ashli Hall, a Senior Communications Project Manager and Vice President, is President of the BLACK Collective, a new Affinity and Inclusion Group at HKS. A small team of Black employees have been meeting regularly since the fall of 2023 in preparation for the group’s upcoming formal introduction to the firm. As part of that preparation, and HKS’ continuing recognition of Black History Month, Ashli agreed to answer a few questions about the group and what it hopes to accomplish.

Question: OK, Ashli, let’s start with the group’s name. Why the moniker BLACK Collective, and why is the word BLACK all uppercase?

First, I want to emphasize the significance and depth associated with a name.  It is a powerful tool for identification, communication, emotional connection, branding and cultural preservation. A name extends across various aspects of human experience and interaction. We gave considerable thought and effort to how best to characterize our group, and while we were initially content with the term “collective,” defined as a cooperative unit or organization, we eventually recognized the importance of not only defining ourselves as a group but also highlighting our individual identities externally.

The use of all caps for “BLACK” is intentional, representing Black Leadership, Advancement, Community, and Kinship. These values are integral to our identity, and we aim to amplify them within our affinity inclusion group and HKS as a whole.

Question: What’s the primary purpose of the BLACK Collective, and what do you say to those who might question the need for such a group?

Our mission is to cultivate a vibrant and welcoming architecture and design industry where Black HKS professionals grow and thrive, not just here, but throughout the industry. Through service, we will actively engage with our community, leveraging our design expertise and broad-based skills to uplift underserved people. We aim to empower Black design professionals to lead and excel by helping to create and foster an inclusive and supportive workplace where their talents and voices are heard, utilized, valued, and promoted. Mentorship is our cornerstone, and we seek to nurture the next generation of Black design professionals, providing our guidance and support. As advocates, we champion equity in architecture as we work to remove barriers while promoting diversity and fairness at HKS and throughout the industry.

Why start this group now?

We strongly believe that the establishment of this group holds immense value, and the timing for its inception is optimal, with some even suggesting that its formation is long overdue. Candidly speaking, there is a pressing need for this group to champion diversity within our firm and the broader AEC (Architecture, Engineering, and Construction) profession. Beyond that, it is crucial to foster connections and a sense of belonging for our Black employees, not only to retain talent but also to cultivate a community.

According to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) report in 2022, out of 121,603 licensed architects in the U.S., only 2,492 were Black — a mere 2%. This stark underrepresentation underscores the urgency and importance of our group’s mission and goals to increase diversity within our industry.

And why is diversity so integral to the BLACK Collective’s mission? The answer lies in the understanding that innovation thrives in diverse environments. Diverse teams bring a broader range of skills and knowledge, which allows for a multifaceted approach to challenges. This diversity fosters creativity and encourages unconventional thinking. Unique cultural perspectives and life experiences often lead to innovative solutions that may not be evident in more homogenous settings. Simply put, diversity is good business strategy.

To fulfill the HKS vision of becoming the most influential firm in our industry, we recognize the need to be a place of limitless thinkers. This necessitates not only embracing diversity but actively championing it, as it is the key to unlocking innovation, fostering creativity, and achieving our ambitious goals.

BLACK Collective team. From top left to bottom right, Selwyn Crawford, Benjamin Robinson, Alex Q Jones, Chasa Toliver-Leger, Ashli Hall and Chandler Funderburg

What will success look like for the BLACK Collective?

Our vision of success involves several key components. Firstly, it entails fostering cultural awareness within our firm, creating an environment where diversity is not just acknowledged but celebrated. Secondly, we aim to enhance architectural practice and contribute to the industry’s enrichment by embracing diverse perspectives and innovative ideas.

In addition, building inclusivity and connection is a crucial aspect of our success. We aspire to create a workplace where everyone feels a sense of belonging, fostering strong connections among our team members. Moreover, we are committed to working toward the development and promotion of Black professionals to leadership roles, recognizing that diverse leadership is essential for driving meaningful change and ensuring representation at the highest levels.

We recognize that our goals are ambitious. But with the steadfast support of our Co-Executive sponsors, Dan Noble and Sam Mudro, and the valuable guidance from our Chief Advisor, Sidney Smith, we are confident that we can make significant strides to effect positive change within our organization and the broader AEC industry.

Why should any HKS employee want to be a part of or support the BLACK Collective?

Because the success of any one of us translates to success for all of us. All HKS employees should seek to support the BLACK Collective because our goals and mission are ultimately designed to improve HKS and the broader AEC industry. And isn’t that what we all want?

HKS Announces New Leadership Team

HKS Announces New Leadership Team

HKS is pleased to announce an exciting leadership transition that will help the firm solidify its position as a leading voice in the global design world, today and into the future. The HKS Board of Directors has named Dan Noble as CEO & Chairman, and Sam Mudro as President & CFO. 

For 10 years, Noble served HKS as President & CEO, a joint role traditionally held by one individual. He has guided HKS to a period of remarkable growth in staff and revenue, leading to its recent ranking as the world’s second largest architecture and design firm. 

Recognizing a need to evolve the firm’s executive leadership structure, Noble and the board recently divided the CEO and President roles. This move will enable HKS to capitalize on market opportunities and drive an even higher level of design excellence and innovation for its global clients. 

As CEO & Chairman, Noble will lead and shape HKS’ vision, strategy and organizational culture. He will also lead and advise the Board, maintaining ultimate decision-making authority for high-level business changes. 

“HKS leadership has long understood that the best way for us to leverage our talent is to give agency to others. This transition will give us latitude within our organization to do more and continue to lead the industry through limitless thinking,” Noble said. “Sam is an incredible sounding board and a trusted advisor. Together, he and I will continue to work together, influencing the future of HKS alongside our colleagues around the world.” 

“Sam is an incredible sounding board and a trusted advisor. Together, he and I will continue to work together, influencing the future of HKS alongside our colleagues around the world.” 

Mudro ascends to the role of President and retains his position of Chief Financial Officer, which he has held since joining HKS in 2015. He now oversees overall business strategy implementation and is responsible for operational and financial performance, reporting to Noble and the Board. 

“I’m humbled and honored to be given this opportunity to serve our incredible firm,” Mudro said. “The new leadership structure will help us unlock our ability to achieve our vision at a deeper level. It will create clarity and focus around two essential elements of our business: our strategic vision and our execution. We will be able to innovate and create at a much faster speed, ultimately delivering greater value to our clients.” 

As leaders of a legacy architecture firm celebrating its 85th anniversary this year, Noble, Mudro and the Board of Directors are proudly planning HKS’ future together to ensure the success of staff and projects in an industry facing rapid changes. This transition is an indicator of the firm’s commitment to developing leaders at all levels and strengthening the business from within, so HKS designers can continue to create places and spaces around the world where people thrive. 

“We are aware that the industry we work in today will not look the same tomorrow, next year, or five years from now,” Noble said. “At HKS, we are innovating and investing in changes that will position our business for long term resilience and give our clients a true value proposition for years to come.” 

Darren Copeland


Case Studies

A Family-owned Hotel Chain Explores Ways to Reposition its Portfolio

Case Study

A Family-owned Hotel Chain Explores Ways to Reposition its Portfolio

United States

The Challenge

Seeking to identify areas of improvement and determine investment priorities, a hotel chain’s management and owners commissioned HKS Advisory to complete market and site optimization studies for four of their properties across the United States. 

The unique sites — a truck stop/hotel along an isolated interstate location, two destination conference center hotels, and a city-adjacent conference resort hotel — challenged the team to find a balance between cohesive brand strategies and site-specific interventions that could elevate and differentiate the properties in a crowded branded hotel landscape. It was imperative to focus on the strong history and legacy of the company’s brand to help shape the future of the portfolio. 

The Design Solution

To guide renovation and expansion strategies, the team conducted full site assessments including staff and management interviews, on-site observation and informal user interviews, as well as an online survey with the hotels’ broader customer base. Interviews and surveys focused on feedback about the properties’ current states as well as ideal future state attributes. 

Simultaneously, the team conducted market research including informational interviews with local government entities and business organizations such as chambers of commerce, convention visitor bureaus, hotel associations, as well as national and regional booking agencies such as tour operators, meeting and event planners, and destination management companies.  

Each site study yielded a set of recommendations highlighting specific physical facility improvement opportunities with associated operational and programmatic considerations. A “now, near, far” framework for each, supports prioritization efforts and potential phasing strategies. The HKS design team also developed schematic site plans to help contextualize the placement of their facility recommendations and optimal layouts for various scenarios. 

The Design Impact

Insights from this study have the potential to impact over 450 acres of the brand’s hospitality-oriented properties and the company’s operations. Their unique spaces and experiences touch millions of guests and visitors a year — from supporting family road trips across the United States to providing accommodations for conference participants, and events and engagements in their local communities. 

HKS’ strategic recommendations will help elevate and expand existing offerings to meet the needs of new and potential user groups and have implications for the future of the brand’s business positioning, operations, and portfolio optimization. 

Through extensive outreach and engagement, the HKS Advisory team triangulated key insights and themes from varied perspectives. 
Assessing current and future target guest audiences for drop-in, overnight and extended visits helped inform programmatic recommendations for renovation plans.
Site-specific activities, offerings and partnerships help differentiate each property while still establishing a notable standard for the brand experience. 

Project Features

HKS, Perkins&Will, and McCarthy Vaughn Partnership Selected to Collaborate on Pediatric Campus That Will be Among Largest in U.S.

HKS, Perkins&Will, and McCarthy Vaughn Partnership Selected to Collaborate on Pediatric Campus That Will be Among Largest in U.S.

Children’s Health and UT Southwestern Medical Center have selected HKS and Perkins&Will as the integrated design team to collaborate on a new pediatric campus in Dallas to meet the demands of the growing North Texas population.

The new campus, which will replace the current Children’s Health hospital in Dallas, is designed to be one of the largest, most transformative pediatric hospitals in the nation. McCarthy Vaughn Partnership (MVP) – a joint venture of McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. and J.T. Vaughn Construction LLC – will serve as construction manager for the $5 billion project, which will include 552 beds and 4.5 million square feet of construction.

Children’s Health anticipates beginning construction on the new hospital campus in the second half of 2024. The hospital will potentially open in the next six to seven years.

Rachel Knox, Studio Practice Leader of the Health practice at HKS and a Partner in the Dallas-based global design firm, is principal-in-charge on the project.

“The Children’s Health team and the physicians from UT Southwestern who work at Children’s Health are just incredible, compassionate caregivers,” said Knox. “We’re creating a facility that not only matches that level of care but will allow them to enhance it.”

Ian Sinnett, Health Principal in the Dallas studio of global architecture and design firm Perkins&Will, is the project’s director of planning.

“For more than 110 years, Children’s Health has made it their mission to make life better for children. We’re deeply honored to help them continue achieving this goal through the design of a new world-class health campus,” said Sinnett. “This hospital will be a gamechanger for children and their families all across Texas – and for the incredible care staff committed to their healing journeys.”

“HKS and Perkins&Will are the two largest health architecture practices in Dallas,” Knox noted. “Many of us are parents. This is more than a project for us – our kids are in this community. While both of our firms have designed children’s hospitals around the world, it’s incredible to work on one in your own backyard.”

Michael Malone, MVP project executive, said, “The new pediatric campus will be a critical hub to support ever-growing pediatric health care needs in Dallas today and well into the future. We are thrilled to be able to bring our extensive health care construction experience to help build the spaces that will make a difference in so many young lives.”

The new hospital will house 552 beds, which will increase the inpatient capacity at Children’s Health by 38%. The hospital will also have 15% more emergency department (ED) space and 22% more operating room space, plus space for future expansion.

The facility will include a Level I pediatric trauma center with 90 ED exam rooms and 24 observation rooms. A new fetal care center will provide the region’s most advanced and accessible services for complex maternal and fetal health care.

Additional features include a connector bridge between the new campus and UT Southwestern’s William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital. A new outpatient building on campus will contain 96 exam rooms.

HKS, Perkins&Will, McCarthy and Vaughn, along with HUB partners GSR Andrade Architects and Post L Group, are honored to be part of this momentous project.

For additional updates, please visit

HKS Mission Critical Team Expands to Meet Growing Demand

HKS Mission Critical Team Expands to Meet Growing Demand

The global data center market, which was valued at $200 billion in 2021, is expected to zoom to $450 billion by 2027, with more than 25 million square feet added during that period, according to Ken Research’s latest estimates. In the U.S. alone, the data center market is projected to expand from $20.21 billion in 2022 to $28.56 billion in 2028 (a compound annual growth rate of 6%), when it will have 25.95 million square feet of leasable space and 3,404 MW of power capacity, according to Arizton estimates.

With this growth in demand, HKS is increasing its global reach to serve Mission Critical clients by adding more staff and tapping into the talent across the firm to research better and faster ways to address the challenges of this market sector. Over 90% of HKS’ Mission Critical are long-term clients. The team worked in 31 U.S. states last year, several sites in the UK, and is currently working with over 35 different clients who provide hyperscale, colocation, edge, enterprise, and wholesale data center facilities.

Mary Hart, Bernie Woytek and Michael Malone are leading the HKS Mission Critical practice bringing more than 90 years of cumulative experience with this building type. They are supported by Michael Lyons and William Ringer. In addition, the firm has recently focused on Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics facilities under the leadership of industry specialist Balmiki Bhattacharya.

“We are at a critical point of transition in the data center market,” said Hart. “The way we design a data center is rapidly evolving, changing standard templates and modular designs to accommodate AI and technology growth. We are working to understand these changes as they occur and focus on client specific implementation requirements. As technology evolves, so does the need to build smarter from a sustainable and resilience perspective. We bring the full range of subject matter expertise and front-line research to our design process. Speed to market is key and our team is built to specifically provide that.” 

Woytek added, “The state of the market for data centers and other critical facilities is not only growing exponentially, but it is evolving as well. Machine learning, AI, technological advances, and society’s reliance on these facilities have led all our clients to push the envelope on project delivery that requires our teams to be ahead of the curve on industry knowledge through experience, lessons learned, and research. Knowing that we have a very deep bench of design and technical staff with considerable experience and knowledge of multiple types of data centers from 2 MW shielded data halls to million-plus square foot campuses with several hundred MW of power feeding multiple buildings, we have yet to not meet the challenge any of our clients have presented us.”

Malone said, “Our thirst for data usage and storage continues to grow, our Internet of Things continues to expand, and our fascination with what AI holds for us captivates our imagination. Our team continues to evolve to anticipate market demands. Our partnerships with our clients and design consultants allow us to explore ideas of how to better prepare our data centers to react over time and to do so with minor impact to ongoing operations.” 

HKS has recently focused on Advanced Manufacturing Industrial & Logistics market. Bhattacharya characterized the opportunity as, “Built-to-suit activity remains strong but speculative development has slowed down significantly driven by lower demand, high cost of capital, rents plateauing and almost 490 million square feet of industrial projects still under construction that will hit the market in the coming quarters.”

“We expect to see consolidation in the 3P Logistics market which will drive a lot of repositioning work. Dense urban areas in select coastal markets are seeing an uptick in multi-story industrial projects of diverse types as land value continues to increase. We expect the next big wave of industrial projects will be more specialized in nature and focused on solving bigger problems,” he added

We look forward to working with you to explore the latest thinking in Mission Critical design. For more information please visit our website or email any of the leaders highlighted above.

Stevi McCoy

Brain Building Exhibit

Case Study

Brain Building Exhibit Merging Research and Design for an Interactive Experience

Dallas, Texas, USA

The Challenge

Global design firm, HKS, wanted to create a way to increase understanding of — and engagement with — our leading-edge Brain Health research. With this goal in mind, the experiential branding team envisioned a temporary exhibit that would elevate employee awareness about how the human brain interacts with the built environment. The exhibit would also empower our designers to incorporate brain healthy solutions into their current and future work. 

The Design Solution

The Brain Building exhibit, designed for initial placement at the Dallas HKS headquarters, activates an underutilized second-floor arrival area and other key spaces throughout the building. The exhibition has a pop-up format, designed with a sustainable panel system so it can be easily transported and used as a tool to share research findings and brain healthy workplace affordances with other HKS offices, clients and external partners. 

The exhibit provides a unique in-office experience that incorporates best practices for storytelling in corporate workplaces and design solutions inspired directly by the research it showcases. The logo and brand expression include handwritten and bold graphic text styles, and a variety of complementary graphics and illustrations. Informational design and digital animations include edited and prioritized research findings for easy comprehension in a physical exhibition space. The HKS experiential branding team and research team worked in tandem to ensure clarity of information and storytelling elements. 

Balancing content panels with transition spaces, the exhibit layout offers a comfortable, navigable visitor experience. The team created takeaway postcards, QR codes and a survey to extend the experience beyond the physical exhibit so people can learn more about the research and sign up for a Brain Health Experience Workshop led by HKS’ research team. 

The Design Impact

The Brain Building exhibit that is more than a physical design — it tells the story of an important research project and represents all the people who participated in the study with interactive, educational elements. Additionally, the exhibit provides access to vital information about brain health and the built environment for anyone who visits HKS and has been toured by our research collaborators from the Center for BrainHealth® at The University of Texas at Dallas, who were able to learn about the impacts of their scientific work.  

As the HKS experiential branding and research teams collect and share visitor survey results and the exhibit hits the road to other office locations, this project will play a key role in illuminating the importance of designing for brain health worldwide. 

Project Features

Five Design Trends Shaping Communities in 2024

Five Design Trends Shaping Communities in 2024

Advances in artificial intelligence, modular construction and other methodologies will bring renewed energy to the architecture, engineering and construction industry in 2024 despite economic and environmental challenges.  

In response to — and at the forefront of — current real estate and design trends, global design firm HKS is striving to revive and strengthen communities worldwide. In 2024, HKS will continue to create healthy, resilient, dynamic places that support peak performance and bring people joy. 

1 – Spaces for Healthy Living and Learning 

HKS is leveraging the firm’s research and health design expertise to help people navigate ongoing and emerging crises in health care, student health and well-being, and senior living. 

The Sanford Health Virtual Care Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota is one of several exciting HKS health care projects opening in 2024. The telehealth center will improve access to care for rural patients, a medically underserved population.  

Clinical workforce shortages will be a continuing challenge for health systems in the year ahead, according to McKinsey & Company. HKS is designing facilities to address the health care staffing crisis. To further this work, the firm is partnering with design brand MillerKnoll on a study to identify factors that contribute to nurse burnout and to learn how these factors relate to the built environment. The study findings will be published this year. 

This year HKS will also participate in an impact study to gauge how the design of Uplift Luna Preparatory School, which is scheduled to open in Dallas in January, affects student outcomes. HKS’ design of the school was informed by research into how design can support social and emotional learning.  

At the 2024 Environments for Aging conference, HKS and industry partners will present a case study of Elevate Senior Living’s Clearwater, Florida community. HKS’ design for Elevate Clearwater is intended to help address the senior living affordability crisis. The number of middle-income older adults in need of affordable care and housing options is swiftly rising, as demonstrated by a study into the “forgotten middle” senior cohort, by research group NORC at the University of Chicago

2 – Commercial Office Reinvention 

It’s clear by now that hybrid and remote work are here to stay. Changes to work habits over the last four years caused major fluctuations in corporate real estate portfolios, leading to increased vacancy rates and diminishing valuations worldwide. But according to Deloitte’s 2024 commercial real estate outlook, newer, higher quality assets are outperforming older spaces and new construction projects designed to accommodate hybrid work strategies are on the rise.  

HKS commercial interior designers are creating offices with hybrid-ready technologies and attractive amenities for companies like Textron Systems in Arlington, Virginia and AGI in Naperville, Illinois. HKS’ advisory groups have also teamed with influential companies, including CoreLogic, to develop strategies and design concepts for their robust asset portfolios that help them keep up with the evolving real estate landscape. 

The firm’s industry-leading research on brain healthy workplaces has yielded exciting discoveries about how offices that prioritize employee well-being can be designed, delivered and operated. Piloting strategies in the firm’s own real estate portfolio and advocating for “breaking the workstation,” HKS researchers and designers are setting new standards for inclusive, productive office environments. In 2024, HKS will present these ideas to a global audience at South by Southwest® (SXSW®) and continue to design workplaces for new modes of working. 

3 – New Mixed-Use and Planning Match Ups

Fluctuations in the commercial office sector and retail are providing new opportunities in mixed-use development. PwC and ULI’s Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2024 report indicates that real estate investors are increasingly diversifying or pivoting their portfolios to counteract disuse of downtown offices and regional malls.  

A shift toward developments with a variety of localized services and amenities is occurring — and HKS designers and planners are at the forefront of creating exciting new projects with unique anchors. In Hangzhou, China, the 2023 Asian Games Athlete Village Waterfront Mixed-Use is becoming a prime destination for retail and entertainment, not unlike HKS-designed SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park in Los Angeles with its newest attraction, Cosm. Beyond these new mixes, HKS designers are creating dynamic properties such as NoMaCNTR in Washington, DC, to join hotel and residential uses — a combination on the rise in many major cities. 

In 2024, HKS is expanding its ability to serve communities with mixed-use planning and design, fostering sustainable growth for cities in the years to come. The Austin Light Rail team — consisting of Austin Transit Partnership, HKS, UNStudio and Gehl — is set to finalize design guidelines for proposed station locations that will provide opportunities for Austin residents to live in more affordable locations and promote urban expansion into less dense areas. As the transit network expands, it will unlock real estate opportunities and give rise to a variety of diverse and exciting mixed-use properties. This work complements the Transit Oriented Developments projects HKS is working on to elevate the health and well-being of our communities nationwide.  

HKS designers are also set to craft a new master plan for the Georgia World Congress Center’s 220-acre campus in downtown Atlanta this year. The cohesive, sustainability-driven master plan will create a legible pedestrian-friendly environment that maximizes economic potential of the convention center campus. This will integrate the campus’ global canvas with surrounding historic neighborhoods using a comprehensive framework. 

4 – Adaptive Reuse Rising 

In their report on 2024 real estate trends, PwC and ULI write that that “the movement to convert existing buildings from office to multifamily (or any other asset class, really), offers a meaningful achievement in saving carbon emissions.”  

As part of HKS’ efforts towards sustainable and resilient design, the firm is igniting adaptive reuse for a variety of building types, such as ParkwayHealth Gleneagles Chengdu Hospital in China, a tertiary care facility created from a former shopping center. HKS’ design for Mount Sinai Beth Israel Comprehensive Behavioral Health Center in New York City reinvigorated a structure built in 1898 to create a new destination for behavioral health. HKS designers in London renovated a 19th-century office building into a 21st-century clinic. And for an expansion of Rusk State Hospital in Texas, HKS reinvented the hospital campus, which opened in 1883 to house a penitentiary, into a therapeutic and dignified behavioral health care setting. 

In a highly poetic adaptive reuse project, HKS reimagined a defunct airport terminal, which dated to the 1940s, as a creative, contemporary workspace for online travel company Expedia Group. 

In 2024, HKS will continue to advance adaptive reuse design across different markets and geographies. 

5 – Creating a Better World through ESG

Balancing holistic sustainability — including decarbonization, climate resilience, and equitable design practices — with business goals is imperative for commercial real estate investors according to 2024 outlooks by both Deloitte and PwC. Leading the architecture and design industries to a brighter future, HKS is committed to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). 

HKS leaders recently demonstrated the depth of the firm’s ESG efforts through thought leadership — speaking at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, the United Nations Science Summit on Brain Capital, and at the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) conference, where HKS was also a Diamond Sponsor. 

Driven by ESG goals, HKS designers strive to enhance human and environmental well-being through the places they create day in and day out. The firm’s growing portfolio of high-performing projects includes the world’s first WELL-certified airport facility, a COTE Top-Ten Award-winning campus in California and a IIDA Global Excellence Award finalist hospital in Saudi Arabia to name a few. In 2024, HKS architects, sustainable design leaders and advisors will continue developing building portfolio sustainability guidelines and high-performance designs for major tech companies and educational institutions.  

HKS will also align with the Science Based Targets Initiative, which recently established building sector guidelines, to ensure the firm’s carbon neutrality goals are science-backed and can be properly benchmarked. The firm will provide voluntary disclosures about its offsets portfolio to meet regulatory requirements, enhance transparency and improve accountability. 

Most excitingly, 2024 marks the 10-year anniversary of Citizen HKS, a firmwide initiative that impacts lives and drives change through design, community service and financial philanthropy. HKS designers around the world will celebrate the pro-bono design work and service projects they have contributed to through Citizen HKS and re-commit to enhancing their communities for years to come. 

Expedia Group

Case Study

Expedia Group A Dynamic Design Driven by Connection and Adaptation

Springfield, Missouri, USA

The Challenge

Global online travel company Expedia Group occupied a decommissioned terminal of the Springfield-Branson National Airport for more than a decade, expanding it over the years into a workplace for nearly 1,000 employees. When the company needed a more cohesive and updated design, it partnered with longtime collaborator, HKS, to transform the building into a contemporary office environment. The design team was charged with creating a workplace that offers a frictionless experience and supports Expedia Group’s brand mission to make travel easier and more enjoyable.

The Design Solution

An integrated design process including company-wide stakeholders yielded a vision for the project that emphasizes connection and authenticity of place. Drawing inspiration from the airport as a physical connector and the company’s function as a digital connector between destinations and experiences, the design team solved navigation challenges present in the existing workplace. The design prioritizes access to natural light, improved environmental comfort, and a variety of spaces to support different work and social functions.

The new workplace honors the terminal’s history, highlighting its original features with elements that draw the eye toward them and outward to views of the surrounding airport and sky. It includes clear signage, biophilic elements, and plentiful visual references to air travel with custom experiential graphics featuring three-letter airport codes and maps.
Sustainability and performance are foundational to the project. The design remediates HVAC and building envelope issues and optimizes new systems for efficient energy use and thermal, acoustic and sensory comfort. To reduce carbon footprint, the project team minimized new construction, reused many workstation desks and chairs, and repurposed or recycled flooring and ceiling materials. New interior materials and products were carefully selective to minimize environmental impact and enhance the health of people and planet.

This project’s client is at the forefront of creating progressive, flexible work experiences to better accommodate its workforce. The design serves current and anticipated future needs with design strategies that focus on equity, accessibility and well-being.

The Design Impact

The project has garnered positive feedback from the client’s leadership and end users, who have praised the space as a dynamic, supportive environment that improves comfort and enhances social and work functions. Success stems from deeply collaborative efforts among the design team, the client’s real estate group, and company employees. The dynamic workplace honors the past, present and future of the airport terminal in which it resides and sets a new design standard for the travel company that calls it home.

Project Features

The Place at Honey Springs

Case Study

The Place at Honey Springs A New, Inviting Future for a Historic Dallas Community

Dallas, Texas, USA

The Challenge

The Joppa community was founded in 1872 as a freedmen’s town in present-day South Dallas. Today, the community is isolated from the rest of the city by the borders of a highway, a river, railroad tracks and industrial sites. The neighborhood — also known as Joppee — is a food desert and lacks access to city infrastructure such as grocery stores or sports facilities.  

Citizen HKS partnered with the Melissa Pierce nonprofit organization to revive the abandoned 1950s Melissa Pierce School into a vibrant multipurpose center that reflects the rich history and character of Joppa.

The Design Solution

After extensive community engagement, the design team developed The Place at Honey Springs, a multipurpose center that embodies the vibrant spirit of Joppa’s residents. The center is named for the Joppa community’s original name of Honey Springs, which was annexed into the City of Dallas in 1955.

The Place at Honey Springs features several indoor and outdoor multipurpose areas for community gatherings and dining. A recording studio and classrooms for after-school programs and continued education encourage creativity and lifelong learning.  

The center also boasts a variety of opportunities for neighbors to pursue active lifestyles, including a soccer field, basketball court, exercise stations, open green areas and an indoor swimming pool. Further, community members will have access to fresh produce from multiple aeroponic gardens, and there is dedicated outdoor space for a pop-up clinic to deliver medical services. 

The Design Impact

The Place at Honey Springs stands as a testament to Joppa’s enduring history while equipping the community with tools to design its future. By reimagining the original school building, the new community center helps preserve Joppa’s identity, but is also more sustainable than a brand-new structure.  

The new sloped roof allows for the collection of rainwater to irrigate the center’s native landscaping, and the addition of new trees helps to mitigate the urban heat island effect. If incorporated, solar panels, minimal glazing on the south side of the building and other passive strategies could reduce both energy use and operating costs. 

Project Features


Patrick Kennedy

New Design Trends in Behavioral Health

New Design Trends in Behavioral Health

This story first appeared in the 2023 November/December Edition of Medical Construction & Design.

Now more than ever, the world is calling for compassionate care toward patients struggling with mental health conditions. Architectural interventions are key to this movement.

Interest in non-invasive de-escalation strategies is at an all-time high. As sensory therapies that support these strategies advance, behavioral health facilities have an increased need for sensory rooms. Spaces to support evolving interventional psychiatry platforms and treatments are increasingly important, as well. And while providers continue to grapple with staffing challenges, they are realizing an ancillary benefit of sustainable design: operational savings they can re-allocate towards attracting and retaining qualified staff.

Sensory Therapies

It is increasingly clear that spaces designed to accommodate individual patients’ sensory needs are critical in behavioral health facilities. In addition to treating sensory disorders, environments designed to help physicians understand and address patients’ sensory challenges can help diagnose other, potentially hidden, conditions.

At HKS, our team of designers and researchers works closely with psychiatrists and occupational therapists to create custom-designed sensory room solutions for pediatric, adult and geriatric populations. Examples include the sensory well-being hub at Lane Tech High School in Chicago, a pro-bono project to help students with learning differences independently de-escalate and self-regulate.

We have developed high-fidelity physical mock-ups and prototypes with custom-curated sensory tools and design features that can personalize the patient experience. These include tactile features, projected imagery, sounds and smells to support patients’ emotional management and improve their daily sensory processing.

Tactile features, projected imagery, sounds and smells support patients’ emotional management and improve daily sensory processing. Project: Sensory Well-being Hub at Lane Tech College Prep High School

For example, we have researched and created spaces for patients to explore healthy ways to experience self-induced and externally generated forces during treatment for vestibular system dysfunction – a disturbance in the body’s balance system. These spaces include features such as slides, swings and workout equipment. Mirrors and video monitoring enable a broader care team to provide feedback on symptoms such as head tilting or eye movement and track individuals’ progress over time.

The proprioception system is the body system that enables people to sense their own bodily movement, force and position. Many patients who experience proprioception disorders are largely unaware of the root cause of their challenges. They may be heedless of their own strength, have an unusually high pain threshold or fail to observe the personal space of others.

HKS sensory therapy prototypes have shown that patients struggling with proprioception can benefit from spaces that support deep pressure activities and resistance exercises with consistent intensity. These environments promote tranquility and mitigate patients’ desire to seek unhealthy sensory inputs elsewhere.

Custom-designed sensory room solutions for pediatric, adult and geriatric populations can help patients independently de-escalate and self-regulate. Project: Sensory Well-being Hub at Lane Tech College Prep High School

Interventional Psychiatry

Soothing spaces that incorporate virtual reality technology with TMS treatment are also on the rise. TMS treatment, which uses magnetic pulses to stimulate the brain, has been proven to render promising results for regulating dependence behaviors and treating trauma- and stressor-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Design features such as dimmable lighting, comfortable recliners and en-suite bathrooms support the comfort and psychological safety of patients receiving TMS treatment. We provide cameras in the design of these rooms to augment staff observation and review.

Enhancing TMS therapy with virtual reality and ketamine infusions can help patients learn coping mechanisms that mitigate fear responses. Environments and tools that help people identify and move through stressors support cognitive longevity and stress resilience. This can help save the lives of people struggling with debilitating stress from anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Sustainable, Supportive Environments

Sustainable and resilient design is seeing a resurgence in behavioral health. In the U.S., this is due in part to the federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which makes funding available for clean energy and climate mitigation and resilience measures. Care providers are thinking critically about the first and second costs of facility design and operations, especially as these costs relate to operational and staffing efficiency.

Staffing efficiency is an ongoing concern in behavioral health. Providers are recognizing that sustainable facilities help reduce ongoing operational costs, freeing resources for staffing and staff retention.

Since this behavioral health facility bordered a wooded area, the design team drew inspiration from the surrounding landscape to cultivate a sense of calm and tranquility. Materials used include locally sources stone, timber columns and overhangs, along with wood planks. Project: INTEGRIS Health Arcadia Trails Center for Addiction Recovery

HKS is employing several sustainable and resilient design strategies on current behavioral health projects. Our design for Permian Basin Mental Health Hospital in Midland, Texas, for example, features rainwater harvesting. The design also enhances electrical efficiency to reduce load demand and operational costs. The 158,000-square-foot comprehensive behavioral health campus for adults and adolescents is scheduled to open in October 2025.

Other recent HKS projects demonstrate how behavioral health clients are increasingly prioritizing staff well-being. BasePoint Academy opened new facilities for outpatient adolescent mental health and substance abuse treatment in Arlington, Texas and McKinney, Texas this year. During the design of the new facilities, BasePoint leadership expressed to HKS that staff spaces were a top concern because happy, quality staff lead to better patient outcomes. The BasePoint facilities feature vibrant colors and large, comfortable offices and staff lounges. BasePoint reported that since the new sites opened, the organization has had no trouble attracting top-notch staff.

Sustainable and resilient design is seeing a resurgence in behavioral health… Care providers are thinking critically about the first and second costs of facility design and operations, especially as these costs relate to operational and staffing efficiency.

Evolution of Care

The built environment is integral to advances in behavioral health care. As care platforms, treatment, technology and equipment progress, designs to support care delivery are moving forward, as well.

Six Ground-Breaking Designs Recognized as HKS 2023 Top Projects

Six Ground-Breaking Designs Recognized as HKS 2023 Top Projects

In 2023, HKS team members around the world celebrated big accomplishments — the firm’s exciting commitment to carbon neutrality, several industry-leading awards, and pioneering research about designing for brain health to name a few.  

These achievements demonstrate how the HKS values of relationships, character and purpose inspire transformative places and ideas that can shape a better future. But perhaps no HKS initiative better showcases how designers are collaborating to enhance peoples’ lives than the firm’s annual Top Projects program. 

Every year, design teams from each of HKS five practice sectors — Community, Innovation, Interiors, Place and Venues — create Top Projects submissions that tell stories about how they pursued design excellence in their project processes and outcomes. Now in its eighth year, the program represents how HKS teams serve clients and communities through equitable, sustainable and innovative design and how they can strive to become better designers. 

“Top Projects is our opportunity for HKS to live out our goals and become the type of firm we want to be, to be critical of our work and to engage our peers to help us evaluate gaps we may have,” said HKS Chief Design Officer, Anthony Montalto. 

From ground-up buildings to master plans and interior designs to research efforts, nearly every type of project HKS teams work on was eligible for consideration as a Top Project. HKS committee members and seven jurors from the broader AEC industry evaluated nearly 130 submissions and awarded six projects that balance beauty and performance through the power of design. 

The 2023 HKS Top Projects are: 

Top Project of the Year: Edison House 

The 2023 Top Project of the Year, Edison House, breaks the mold of traditional social clubs. Located in Salt Lake City’s Warehouse District, the building reflects its industrial surroundings and features a offers a welcoming experience for all who pass by or enter the social club’s doors. Challenged by a narrow site and complex building program, the design team created dynamic interior spaces that balance openness and intimacy for a variety of social activities. 

“One thing I truly appreciated about this project is its transparency and the way it touches the ground and invites everyone in the community to peek in. It’s a great project,” said Top Projects external juror Mandi Chapa, an urban planner at Huitt-Zollars. 

Community Sector Top Project: Moody Outpatient Center at Parkland Hospital 

The 2023 Community Sector Top Project, the Moody Outpatient Center at Parkland Hospital, features 24 multispecialty clinics that serve a daily population of 800 patients. The treatment center, which won an AIA Healthcare Design Award in 2023, offers a comfortable experience for patients, visitors, staff and clinicians with natural light streaming through a high-performance glass exterior, easy-to-navigate circulation patterns, and an abundance of welcoming waiting areas. 

“This project did an incredible job of connecting to the context and incorporating a variety of people in the process. It shows that standardization can be really beautiful,” said external juror Stephanie Travis, Program Head of Interior Architecture and Associate Professor at George Washington University. “It’s a timeless, elegant building.” 

Innovation Sector Top Project: Unearthing the Blackland Prairie 

The 2023 Innovation Sector Top Project, Unearthing the Blackland Prairie, is a special project developed for the 2024 HKS Global Design Fellowship. In response to a prompt that asked  fellows to explore how to create design solutions for the endangered Texas Blackland Prairies, the project team proposed a regenerative composting facility and program to enhance the integrity of soil, inspired by the digestive process of termites. 

“This is not only an innovative idea — it is also an important subject matter. It pushes forward thinking…and is meaningful and beautiful,” said Chapa. 

Interiors Sector Top Project: Travel Company Workplace

The 2023 Interiors Sector Top Project, a travel company workplace, is an adaptive re-use of an airport terminal. The workplace design emphasizes connection and authenticity of place, honoring the original use of the airport building as well as the client’s brand mission to provide dynamic experiences. Prioritizing holistic employee well-being, the design team created a sustainable environment with abundant access to natural light, healthy materials, and a variety of workstation options and social hubs. 

“We felt this was a really wonderful adaptive reuse project,” said juror Karen Robichaud, founder of Karen Robichaud LLC, Strategy + Communications. “It very clearly presents ‘before and after’ and the team made it really evident who this was for and how its working now.” 

Place Sector Top Project: The 2023 Asian Games Athlete Village Waterfront Mixed-Use

The 2023 Place Sector Top Project, Asian Games Athlete Village Waterfront Mixed-Use, served as a gateway for the 2023 Asian Games, which took place earlier this year. Located in Hangzhou, China, the development creates a vibrant and publicly accessible waterfront rooted in Chinese culture with a design inspired by paintings of the traditional riverside Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival. The vision for the project’s mixed-use buildings includes long-term adaptation to suit the residential, business, and entertainment needs of its community. 

“This project occupies a very current place in our discourse because of its adaptive reuse potential and future tense possibilities,” said Top Projects juror David Staczek, Principal and Senior Designer at ZGF Architects. “It’s a large project, but its successful at all scales.” 

Venues Sector Top Project: Es Con Field Hokkaido 

The 2023 Venues Sector Top Project, Es Con Field Hokkaido, is a state-of-the art arena and home to the Nippon-Ham Fighters Japanese baseball team. The design team created a venue that celebrates Eastern and Western cultures and honors the region’s history of migration and trade. The ballpark features a peaked, operable roof and diverse amenities for visitors including a food hall inspired by the traditional Japanese Yokocho, community gardens, a children’s play field, and an integrated hotel.  

“No one on the jury has ever seen a ballpark like this,” said Travis. “It really connects to history and context with such a strong concept that is executed beautifully.” 

Pushing Design Excellence Forward 

In addition to the six Top Projects winners, jurors also bestowed special honors upon several other initiatives including the HKS and AIA Resilience Design Toolkit, Living Lab Research at HKS’ Atlanta Office as well as buildings and masterplans currently in development with clients across the globe. 

The 2023 Top Projects represent HKS’ vision to positively influence the AEC industry and serve as a beacon for what’s to come in the years ahead as HKS designers help create thriving communities around the globe. 

“I’m proud of the tremendous Top Projects work and what it represents for HKS,” said Gracie Andraos, HKS Director of Design, Interiors. “It’s a fantastic culmination of what we’ve done this year and where we’re striving to go.” 

2023 Top Projects HKS Committee Members: 

Anthony Montalto – Chief Design Officer; Gracie Andraos – Director of Design, Interiors; Diana Araoz-Fraser – Senior Interior Designer; Jason Fleming – Studio Design Leader; Karl Gustafson – Architect, Rand Ekman – Chief Sustainability Officer; Yiselle Santos Rivera – Global Director of Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion; Bernita Beikmann – Chief Process Officer; Julie Hiromoto – Director of Integration; Leah Ray – Director of Content; Upali Nanda – Global Practice Director, Research; James Frisbie – Art Director 

Mandi Chapa – Urban Planner, Huitt-Zollars; Panji Grainger – Managing Principal, Buro Happold; Ray Huff – Architect and Educator, Retired, Chris Morrison – Managing Director and Principal, Perkins & Will; Karen Robichaud – Founder, Karen Robichaud LLC, Strategy + Communications; David Staczek – Principal and Senior Designer, ZGF Architects; Stephanie Travis – Program Head of Interior Architecture and Associate Professor, George Washington University 

CyrusOne Headquarters

Case Study

CyrusOne Headquarters New World Headquarters Connects Staff and Boosts Efficiency

Dallas, Texas, USA

The Challenge

CyrusOne sought to establish a new world headquarters to promote operational efficiency, increase staff connection, and recruit and retain top talent. The data company tasked global design firm HKS with designing the new office space to enable employees to do their best work, embody the company’s rich culture and be a business catalyst for years to come.

The Design Solution

Initial test fits of various office spaces identified an ideal location for the headquarters on the top floors of the Harwood No. 10 building in Dallas’ Harwood District — a 50,000-square-foot (4,645-square-meter) space featuring a penthouse level with 360-degree views of Downtown and Uptown Dallas. Rather than working within the given framework of inherited office space, CyrusOne identified the company’s unique attributes and key priorities to ensure the new space speaks to the character of the organization and its values. 

Both company leadership and general staff embarked on a workplace strategy process to identify the organizational roles, work processes and organizational culture that would make the build-out of the office space uniquely CyrusOne. Work sessions, an employee survey and focus groups to discuss survey results generated a data-informed approach to workplace design and planning. 

A communicating stair connects the three floors to encourage a higher rate of collaboration and use of the amenity space and conference center located at the penthouse level. With ample seating and easily detachable technology, the breakroom is a café and small event space. All-hands meetings can flow out of the large training room into the café space and even onto the outdoor terrace. Bench seating at the base of the communicating stair and coffee stations at the east and west ends of the building serve as landmarks that support additional opportunities to form organic connections.  

Formal meetings can be held in the office’s large conference spaces or training room. The training room features classroom-like seating and presentation capabilities, while one conference room can be configured into three smaller meeting spaces with operable partition walls. The other large conference space is a boardroom-style space lined with floor-to-ceiling windows.  

One of the office’s hallways is home to custom touches that represent the brand’s culture and identity. CyrusOne’s “Rules of the Road” mottos are highlighted on a wall adjacent to a long wire memo board that showcases postcards and items such as a baseball cap that are important to the company’s identity.  

The Design Impact

CyrusOne’s world headquarters is a meaningful space for the company as it continues to grow its international business in the data center marketplace. The project embodies the CyrusOne brand and work experience as a result of extensive engagement with employees and leadership.  

Project Features

HKS Honored as a Leader in LGBTQ+ Workplace Inclusion with Equality 100 Award

HKS Honored as a Leader in LGBTQ+ Workplace Inclusion with Equality 100 Award

HKS, a global design firm, has earned the prestigious Equality 100 distinction on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2023-2024 Corporate Equality Index, an honor that recognizes the firm as a leader in LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion.  

Launched in 2002, the Corporate Equality Index is a “national benchmarking tool on corporate policies, practices and benefits pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer employees,” according to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s website.  

A company’s index score is evaluated by the criteria of workforce protections, inclusive benefits, supporting an inclusive culture and corporate social responsibility. The Equality 100 Award is given to companies that score all 100 possible points.  

The Equality 100 Award is a testament to the firm’s dedication to championing justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (J.E.D.I.) under the leadership of HKS Director of J.E.D.I., Yiselle Santos Rivera. 

“I’m grateful that we are prioritizing the needs of our employees and continually seeking to create a workplace where all are welcome,” Santos Rivera said. “Personally, being able to support my LGBTQIA+ community and seeing them thrive as they show up authentically at work brings me unimaginable joy. I’m humbled by this great honor.” 

“I’m grateful that we are prioritizing the needs of our employees and continually seeking to create a workplace where all are welcome.”

Read the full 2023-2024 Corporate Equality Index report here.  

Designing Health Care Environments for Community Integration and Empowerment

Designing Health Care Environments for Community Integration and Empowerment

As a part of its quarterly Limitless series, global design firm HKS recently hosted a panel to discuss how health care design can facilitate community integration and empowerment.

Nupur Gupta, Senior Medical Planner at HKS, moderated the panel and introduced each of the panelists and their community health care practices. Panelists were Jessica Duckworth, COO of The Rose Breast Center for Excellence; Dr. Andrea Caracostis, CEO of the Asian American Health Coalition dba HOPE Clinic; and Joel Miller Kalmin, facilities designer manager at Legacy Communities Health Services.

Design That Honors Community Identity

Hospitals and clinics can be unwelcoming and impersonal institutions, but many health care and design professionals are working to change this narrative with inviting and community-oriented health care design.

HOPE Clinic is a community health care provider that serves patients from 90 countries of birth in 60 languages. The clinic launched in 2002 in a Chinese community center and continues to serve a large Asian and Hispanic population at its five locations in the Houston area.

To honor the communities it serves, HOPE clinics have prayer rooms for Muslim patients and use colors and themes in the design that are significant to Asian and Hispanic communities. Outdoor spaces display murals and cultural decor such as Chinese lanterns.

“I think that we forget that, if we want people to engage in their health, we also have to provide them a safe space where they feel respected, and they feel like people are putting their needs first above everything else,” Dr. Caracostis said.

Legacy Community Health Services launched in 1978 at the Montrose Clinic to provide STD prevention services to gay men in Houston and now operates more than 50 facilities. Its Southwest Houston clinic is home to 70 different ethnicities. Drawing inspiration from Latin and African culture, the exterior of the clinic is adorned by colorful panels to represent woven textiles. The clinic also features stools with fabric designed by patients.

At Legacy’s Fifth Ward clinic, the community is represented with exterior “Healing Hands” murals by local artist Reginald Adams.

“The murals feature larger-than-life hands with palms outreached surrounded by color fields that represent the chakras,” Kalmin said. “Community members, children and parents alike went to the studio, and their hands are actually part of this permanent mural.”

Meeting Patients Where They Are

Duckworth said that transportation and time constraints are a major barrier to accessing health care. To reduce these barriers, The Rose Breast Center of Excellence operates five mobile mammography coaches to reach patients in their communities and perform life-saving screening services. Founded in 1986 in a 915-square-foot (85-square-meter) space, The Rose now sees 40,000 patients a year across 43 counties in Greater Houston and Southeast Texas through its mobile mammography fleet. The fleet is the largest in Texas.

According to The Rose, 77% of its mobile mammography patients would not have received their annual screening mammogram if they didn’t visit one of its coaches.

“We got to most of the local ISDs to be able to set up a mobile van there so the teachers don’t have to take off, they can just walk out,” Duckworth said. “We got to business, as well, to be able to provide those services.”

In the last five years, Legacy has partnered with schools to offer a variety of health services — such as behavioral health, immunization and dental care — to students during school hours. Parents of students who are minors can enroll their students in the program by signing a consent form for them to be treated by the Legacy team at school.

“The child doesn’t have to miss school, and either guardian or parent doesn’t have to miss work for the child to get the care that they need,” Kalmin said. “That’s a really important niche that is not being served.”

Integration of Care: A “One-Stop Shop”

Dr. Caracostis said that, for many patients, having to return to the clinic at a later date or travel to another clinic for additional care is burdensome as it causes them to be away from their families or take time off work.

“Being able to provide dental, vision and other services in that same space and on that same day is really critical for families,” Dr. Caracostis said. “Because a lot of our families’ wages are on an hourly basis, and every time they take off to go to a medical appointment, it’s dollars off their paycheck.”

Duckworth also shared the value of health care environments acting as a “one-stop shop” for patients.

“If they’re able to go and get all the services they need, they’re going to be more compliant and improve their health outcomes because they’re going to get all of that done in the place that they trust versus having to travel all over to different clinics to be able to receive those services,” Duckworth said.

Engaging with Communities

The Rose and Legacy both have dedicated community engagement teams, and because of data collected in community outreach, Legacy determined a gap in senior primary care. It now has three primary care facilities designed specifically for seniors, featuring wider hallways to better accommodate wheelchairs and exam chairs instead of exam beds.

When HOPE Clinic built its newest facility, it held a visioning session inviting community members to share their hopes for the new space. The clinic features social spaces for community events such as a culinary program and an upcoming concert series.

“We’re all super proud that we provide fabulous services, but that doesn’t mean we’re good community partners,” Dr. Caracostis said. “Being a community partner means you get off your soap box and you listen to the communities and open your doors for their priorities and not necessarily yours.”

View the full webinar recording here