Russell Crader

Jeremiah Community

Case Study

Jeremiah Community Virginia's Jeremiah Community Offers a Lifetime of Care, Security and Well-Being

Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA

The Challenge

Rising population and soaring living costs will likely escalate homelessness and housing insecurity nationwide. This absence of permanent housing fuels hefty spending by localities on managing crime, public health issues, and social injustices. Micah Ecumenical Ministries, experienced in aiding Fredericksburg, VA’s homeless, proposes an intentional solution: a holistic supportive housing community. Partnering with Citizen HKS and engaging the community, the Jeremiah Community aims to offer affordable, permanent homes tailored to the unhoused. This initiative includes health care programs, access to nature and faith, fostering a cohesive community for those transitioning from homelessness to a stable, supportive environment.

The Design Solution

The Jeremiah Community focuses on lifelong healing through deliberate design choices, ensuring well-being, safety, and accessibility. Citizen HKS, contributing expertise in place analysis, master planning, and unit design, collaborates with Micah’s partnerships at the University of Mary Washington Healthcare System and Virginia Supportive Housing. They strategically position essential facilities like the health care clinic, market, maker space, chapel, community center, and gardens to create varied public, social, and personal spaces catering to community healing needs— ranging from physical to spiritual.

Citizen HKS’ holistic approach balances environmentally friendly strategies and urban design principles on the dense site. Pathways carve pocket neighborhoods, connecting diverse programming while emphasizing nature’s role in wellness. These areas, centered around shared green spaces, encourage communal immersion in nature, addressing erosion and heat island effects passively.

This sustainable urban plan showcases how integrated design strategies create healing spaces within the Jeremiah Community, supporting individual and communal well-being for all.

The Design Impact

The Jeremiah Community seeks to eliminate chronic homelessness by offering ongoing care and stable housing for more than 100 individuals. Citizen HKS’ design approach emphasizes Housing, Purpose, and Relationship principles, empowering the unhoused community in the design process. This collaboration fosters a master plan prioritizing affordability and a sustainable, healthy environment for transitioning to permanent homes. As this community pursues choice and self-determination, our design journey will continue to align with their progress as we engage in future project phases.

Project Features

“Without the [unhoused] community, I would have lost the only possession I had left [when I was on the streets] – hope.”

Peg Phillips, Micah, Servant-Leader of Neighbor Care

What We Learned at the United Nations Science Summit on Brain Capital

What We Learned at the United Nations Science Summit on Brain Capital

About 1 in 4 firms have announced targeted solutions to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Brain Capital is not only a means to take that progress further, but to see progress through a more holistic lens. According to the Brain Capital Alliance, Brain Capital “considers mental health and brain skills . . . as indispensable parts of the knowledge economy.” At Steelcase’ sprawling location abutting Columbus Circle in New York City, a diverse group of neuroscientists, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and other stakeholders from around the world gathered recently to discuss how Brain Capital can tackle society’s most pressing challenges, from behavioral health to burgeoning knowledge economies.

Countless rich questions highlighted the day-long symposium, which became a sort of Brain Capital “stress test.” But as we at HKS continue to look for ways that design can help shape and guide the future of our communities, here are five thoughts from the summit to help all of us think about how to achieve that.

Why the focus on “capital”?

Mental health disorders are projected to cost the global economy $16 trillion by 2030, according to Pawel Swieboda, who delivered an opening address. From Brain Healthy workplaces to reinvesting in behavioral health facilities or drug-treatment facilities, the financial upside for cities is clear. But value itself also needs rethinking. Clayton Mitchell pointed out that if we use traditional measures, like ROI, on everything we do, we’ll end up in the present situation.

Rym Ayadi said that capital accumulates and deteriorates driven by several factors — political, social, natural, and economic contingencies. Many panelists noted that a new global economy is possible, with Brain Capital as the fulcrum of future prosperity. Our economy is a brain economy. With the rise of automation, the skills in demand will rely more on cognitive, social, and emotional capacity.

Taking this idea one step further, Tom Osha of Wexford observed that innovation districts may be the anchors of future cities, buoyed by university research centers, clinical enterprise, and community inclusion.

What do we do about youth well-being?

Across the globe, Gen Z reports a higher share of mental health challenges than any other generational cohort, and if Brain Capital is to inform curriculum redesigns or community interventions, their voices can’t be overlooked. The morning program of the Brain Capital symposium was devoted to youth and adolescent mental health, as 1 out of 4 Generation Z people to report their mental health as fair or poor, according to the American Psychological Association. Youths today pursue health information differently than previous generations — through web-based tools, mobile applications, and online health information — and it’s the responsibility of health providers, and community stakeholders, to meet them in these spaces.

What can the built environment do about brain capital?

Marta Schantz argued that we need to take a closer look at the places we inhabit through the lens of real estate portfolios. “Greening” our real estate is a matter of growing the bottom line, and the capital trend toward “cognitively-healthy” properties is real. Investors are paying more for green buildings, and occupants are seeing them in both residential and commercial spaces.

People spend 90% of their time indoors. So why wouldn’t they have the expectation that both commercial and residential spaces promote healthier people? One study finds that workers within green-certified buildings report 30% fewer sick days than baseline.

Ultimately, the environment either promotes or impedes a continuum of care. Electrification may alleviate asthmatic symptoms indoors, and environments may proactively help neurodiverse persons or those experiencing neurodegenerative disorders. If we design for people who are most sensitive, we all benefit. Design ideals, including biophilia, access to natural light, and access to both quietude and community, stand to benefit all people. Novelty and fascination aren’t just design features, they’re critical to brain-healthy individuals by boosting creativity and alleviating cognitive fatigue. Jennifer Kolstad may have said it best, “beauty isn’t gratuitous, it’s essential to our well-being.”

How do technology and Brain Capital work together?

Steelcase’ Columbus Circle location embodies what a brain-healthy and technology-enabled space can be. Outside the main stage, meeting rooms and collaboration areas were set up around several floors where event participants could hold a meeting or take a respite from the crowd. Beautiful variations of focus spaces were ubiquitous on every floor. Each room was enabled with a screen to view the main stage. A balcony looked out over Central Park.

Technology may be a supplement to the work we must accomplish each day — but it is also the technologies that permeate a continuum of care.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports that there are more than 350,000 health care apps on the global market today. With all that choice, the consumer is stretched to find what works. Entrepreneurship is necessary to fulfilling the goals of Brain Capital, but we need to keep an eye on “technologies that produce solutions in search of a problem.”

One of the best discussions on the evolving landscape of technology came with the final keynote by David Faigman, the Dean and Chancellor of UC Law College of San Francisco. Throughout history, industrialization has led to evolving standards of law. With radio and the television, the FCC was formed. Product liability law evolved under the new relationships between tools and users. Innovation goes hand-in-hand with the evolution of law. And product developers, operating alongside lawyers, can both protect communities while working toward innovative products.

What are the realities of today’s health care climate?

Pennsylvania State Rep. Aaron Kaufer, a Democrat, said “we’ve spent so much time destigmatizing talking about drug and alcoholic abuse, we need to spend just as much time with what to do next.” Today, the out-of-pocket expenses for mental health are climbing, especially after many states began to roll back funding for telehealth. But it’s not only about throwing money at the problem, but innovating appropriately. Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the famous Oregon study demonstrated that expanding a tenet of the safety net, like Medicaid, can only get us so far in more favorable health outcomes.

Jane Brown focused her words on the practical questions that need answering.  What are covered benefits or fee schedules? How do reimbursements mix with quality of care delivered? We’re working through a model that has long since stopped working. What is the real cost of care? Will the expansion of telehealth improve outcomes or simply reduce costs? Medicaid programs cover more telehealth programs than ever. The financial structures are problematic, however. It’s a policy issue that telehealth appointments pay less, and are chronically underfunded, because reimbursements aren’t as high as in-person visits.

Finally, if perfectly rational actors don’t fit our economic models, it won’t for the concept of Brain Capital either. Ideally, every resident would exercise, have great nutrition, and do everything possible to receive preventative care. This ideal is far from the current benchmark, where food deserts exist, population health differs considerably by zip code, and those on Medicaid receive 50% of their care through the emergency department of a health facility. People aren’t perfect, but neither are the environments built for them — and there’s much to be improved in either capacity.

A full event recap report can be found here. This event was organized jointly by the Brain Capital Alliance, Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, HKS and CADRE, with the support of the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission of California as well as Kooth.

HKS New York

Case Study

HKS New York Reimaging the Office for an Evolved Workforce 

New York, New York, USA 

The Challenge

The HKS New York office sought to renovate its new space to accommodate an evolved workplace culture as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The project team determined that its increasingly mobile workforce necessitated a different approach to space planning — one that prioritizes shared areas over individually assigned areas that have become underutilized since the pandemic. Air quality, lighting and acoustic performance were also a priority of the project team. 

The Design Solution

With themselves as the client, the New York office cultivated a workspace fit for a changed workforce and representative of the character of New York City. The streets of New York are referenced by three distinct zones flanking the central work area. Culture Alley focuses on the user experience and provides an intimate, service-based access with artistic accents curated by the office’s employees, Process Alley houses innovative and energetic aspects of creating and Broadway showcases curated ideas.  

The vast connectivity of the city’s subway system also inspired much of the design of the office space, using the concept of sinuous curves, arches and iconic signage to connect disparate programs and design methods of wayfinding. The concept of a train yard rail lines is referenced by a linear acoustic ceiling system composed of angular, sinuous baffles. Additionally, office staff chose imagery of iconic New York City structures to adorn the space for further inspiration.   

While the project team focused on shared areas, it also designed focus rooms and a conference room for quiet work and closed meetings — but the conference room doesn’t only serve as a private meeting space. It can be divided into two rooms with bi-folding acoustic partitions or open up into one large room, extending into the common area to create an even larger gathering space. If necessary, curtains can be drawn for both privacy and soundproofing.  

High-performing MERV 14 air filtration and customizable temperature control positively impact overall well-being and comfort within the space. Area control systems were placed strategically throughout the office to allow for varying temperature levels among the different zoned areas. Skylights and windows bring light into the space, but various biophilic installations help diffuse the light while also bringing in nature emblematic of the city’s public parks and East Coast sea forms.   

The Design Impact

The HKS New York office reflects the identities of its primary users and honors the city it serves while improving overall well-being as employees return to the office after working remotely during the pandemic. Its bright and airy atmosphere invites both HKS employees and clients in as they ease back into office life, and an emphasis on shared spaces facilitates community and boosts morale.

Project Features


HKS Research Accelerator Program Explores How Advancing ESG in Design Adds Client Value

HKS Research Accelerator Program Explores How Advancing ESG in Design Adds Client Value

We’re no longer interested in the simple exercise of acknowledging problems. We’re taking action. We’re moving beyond mere awareness by driving progress, alongside our clients, by enriching interactions and promoting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) measures. We’ve joined the United Nations Global Compact, embracing Sustainable Development Goals under the world’s shared plan to end extreme poverty, reduce inequality, and protect the planet by 2030. But we also have ongoing research to support the bleeding-edge innovation on how to get there.

“The greatest challenges of the 21st century are Design problems. They are not thrust upon us; they are of our making. Fortunately, the solution is also Design. What we are faced with is not a technical challenge, it is a people challenge. HKS’ holistic, integrated, research based ESG is one of our empowerment tools.”

Rand Ekman,
Chief Sustainability Office

HKS supports multiple paths to innovation through research. We offer our talent opportunities to learn and grow by instilling research and providing opportunities to explore, investigate, and evaluate. The Incubator track emphasizes the development of research capabilities, expanding our firm’s knowledge and exploring novel concepts, ultimately enhancing our innovation potential. Building upon incubated work, the Accelerator track aims to generate applicable research and insights, transforming this innovation potential into practical integration and impact for our projects and practices.

Each year we encourage diverse, inquisitive teams to think, synthesize and translate insights into impact, with a focus on new design ideas. Over the past three years, the Incubator/Accelerator research program has supported 29 projects, including 150 HKS employees from various regions. Our firm is differentiated by the scope and breadth of our evidence-based practice areas. And while we aren’t the only AED firm to support research grants, the projects we support are designed to create tools and methods that make an actionable difference in design.

“Better Design, Better Outcomes. Better Research, Better Design. It is that simple. Our research incubator and accelerator programs are designed to democratize research and make room for the limitless thinking that is vital at a time when so much is changing all at once”

Upali Nanda, PhD,
Global Practice Director, Research

Here we’ll focus on our 2022 accelerator projects which are exemplary in showing how ESG is foundational in design. The research questions and methodologies of each project varied greatly, including how to engage with diverse stakeholders and cultivate a sense of belonging, how to improve energy savings and align carbon impacts with client goals, and what to consider in mitigating climate risks and developing a framework for materials transparency. Over the last year of research, here are three key pathways that transcend each effort.

Key Pathways #1: Sustainable practices find cost savings through best practices.

From a bird-eye perspective, the construction and design industry contributes 30% of total global waste and 38% of global carbon dioxide. However, by adopting sustainable construction practices, building operations , and optimizing material selection and transportation, the industry can not only reduce waste and carbon dioxide emissions but also achieve substantial cost savings.

Construction methods vary based on location, affecting both the materials used and their transportation distances. The architecture and engineering (A/E) industry must adapt to the global shift towards carbon neutrality by designing and maintaining carbon-neutral buildings that align with client goals. To achieve this, Miguel Lopez and his team provided design teams with low-embodied-carbon material recommendations and engaged in project-specific building systems and assemblies during the early stages of design. Their assessment tool allows teams to work proactively during the design process to identify and implement carbon reduction strategies and effectively reduce embodied carbon footprints with cost savings in mind.

Adaptive reuse stands out as the most cost-effective approach to sustainable building construction, primarily because it allows for the repurposing of existing structures. This method minimizes the requirement for new materials and reduces construction expenses. By adopting principles of the circular economy, Lisa Adams suggests solutions that are not only sustainable but cost effective. Her team collected data on material usage and sustainable upgrades, utilizing Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), which when applied to design, informs decision-making and more efficient resource allocation.

By creatively transforming and retrofitting buildings, adaptive reuse preserves the embodied energy within the existing structure, minimizes waste, and conserves resources. Compared to constructing entirely new buildings, this sustainable practice not only benefits the environment but also generates substantial cost savings for project developers and owners.

Adams’ team developed five key strategies to adopt in the design process—prioritizing adaptive reuse, specifying carbon sinks, designing for reuse, eliminating waste, and carefully selecting materials —to not only reduce embodied carbon but also create cost-saving opportunities and long-term value for clients.—to not only reduce embodied carbon but also create cost-saving opportunities and long-term value for clients.

Amber Wirth led a team that met with experts on MEP systems, collaborating closely to assess data related to various façade strategies employed to optimize greenhouse gas emissions reductions for all-electric buildings. The team delivered strategies that focused on financial benefits by optimizing window-to-wall ratios, improving insulation, using high-performance glazing, designing with solar panels, and combining these elements in an all-electric approach. Leveraging software that assesses the triple bottom line of these design strategies, the team quantified and attributed dollar values to their projects’ social and environmental impacts, a crucial step for clients in their decision-making process.

The research team explored solutions driven by data, such as window-to-wall ratio, to understand potential cost and energy savings. By reimagining prescriptive envelope requirements, more efficient and impactful decisions can be made.

Key Pathways #2: Client engagements are enriched by research that address equity and sustainability.

Sammy Shams and his team applied the Resilience Design Toolkit that was developed in partnership with the AIA during the Incubator program for designing more resilient buildings that reduce risk from climate change. The team studied the project work data of a large hospitality client in Marco Island, Florida, involving a renovation and expansion. Despite the area’s risk of 30-foot storm surges, site visits and design workshops helped the team comprehend and implement resilient design solutions to reduce risks and further refine the toolkit.

Building on our expertise in health design, Hannah Schultz and team created a design validation tool that combines evidence-based design and Safety Risk Assessments (SRA) to enhance existing processes. The tool aligns with client goals and selects suitable design options. When applied to mental and behavioral health projects, it will establish benchmarks, enable data-driven improvements, and leverage an evidence-based approach.

In pursuit of a more inclusive approach to design, Renae Mantooth’s team developed a guide focusing on equity in design, inspiring HKS collaborations for more equitable industry standards. The guide contains activities for project teams, stakeholder engagement, and analysis protocols, all contributing to HKS’ commitment to inclusive and equitable design.

The research team was sponsored by HKS’ education practice. Passionate about providing inclusive and supportive environments for primary, secondary and higher education, they were inspired by HKS projects like Whitefriars Community School in England (pictured above).

Key Pathways #3: across all industries, incorporating ESG throughout the design process is crucial for achieving the greatest impact.

ESG goals transcend the design process, and by embracing them, design solutions strengthen partnerships with clients, ensuring their needs are considered within the context of industry trends and conversations.

“ESG research through the J.E.D.I. lens encouraged us to consider the system with a growth mindset that impacts the choices we make in service of our communities. Research empowered our people to re-evaluate their thought process to affect the making of the built environment.”

Yiselle Santos Rivera,
Director of Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion

Over $40 trillion in global assets under management (AUM) followed ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) criteria, demonstrating a substantial rise in sustainable investment approaches in recent years. This figure underscores the increasing significance of ESG factors in business and investment choices. The topics we’ve addressed through last years’ Accelerators projects—from energy savings, carbon impact alignment, climate risk mitigation, and material transparency to inclusive design for health and well-being—seek to strengthen client partnerships and emphasizes equitable, client-centric projects. These projects contribute to greater social goals by promoting sustainable practices, reducing environmental impact, and fostering healthier spaces.

Team credits:

HKS Guide for Centering Equity in the Design Process​
Mantooth, Renae
Krause, Courtney
Rudd, Zac
Tang, Diana
O’Donnell, Kathleen
Jankowski, Jarod

Design + Safety Risk Assessment Tool Interface Development
Hudson, Roly
Shultz, Hannah
Howell, Nathan
Farrell, Rachael
Brugger, Cory

Resilience Design Feedback Loop Implementation
Fox, Adam
Barton, Amanda
Sorge, Caroline
Shams, Sammy

Designing Interiors for a Circular Economy
Adams, Lisa
Smith, Allison
Gilkey, Amy
Hartman, Dave

Embodied Carbon Case Study
Smith, Allison
Shams, Sammy
Funderburg, Chandler
Pina, Briana
McCann, Michael
Lopez, Miguel Angel

Building Decarbonization through Electrification & Envelope Thermal Performance
Wirth, Amber
Sorge, Caroline
Padmanabha, Shefalika
Brown, Mike
Dailey, Apryl

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.

Jimmy Germano

Robert DeGenova

University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center Phase 2

Case Study

University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center Phase 2 Expanding with Flexibility

Beachwood, Ohio

The Challenge

University Hospitals has worked with HKS since 2007 and developed a master plan for its Ahuja Medical Center campus with a flexible growth strategy that allows the public and service spines to expand incrementally, from 144 beds up to 600 beds. Phase 1, completed in 2010, included a 375,000-square-foot full-service hospital. However, the emergency department quickly outgrew its space, and there was a need for sports medicine and dedicated men and women’s services and surgical expansion within the community. In addition, the original master plan called for building growth to expand to the northeast of the site. However, that area had become a place of respite for staff and visitors with a retention pond and walking paths. So as the Phase 2 planning began in 2016, the HKS design team needed to adjust the original master plan from an inpatient focus to also include inpatient and outpatient services and find a new location for the buildings that would nearly double the size of the campus.

The Design Solution

The design team proposed to locate the Phase 2 expansion to northwest of the site adjacent to the existing hospital in two new buildings: a South Pavilion was purposely located 40 feet apart from the existing hospital to create a healing garden and staff respite space, which also allowed the existing hospital windows to remain and the new South Pavilion to have windows as well. The programs included a new expanded emergency, surgery with central sterile processing, materials handling expansion, mother-baby and NICU services and breast health, and a second free standing building to house a one-of-a-kind Sports Medicine Institute, totaling over 300,000 square feet added to the campus. This expansion includes services that promote same-day care, allowing patients to use a state-of-the-art Field House for their Rehababilitation from injuries.

The South Pavilion is located next to the existing hospital to allow adjacencies between the existing imaging and surgery departments. The new emergency department, located on the first floor, was upgraded to Level II Trauma and has an expanded capacity for complex cases. And the surgery department on the second floor added eight operating rooms large enough to accommodate current and future technology. The ambulatory surgery suite including pre- and post-op areas are universally designed so they can be used for any procedure type and flex with with the timing of the day.

The Steve and Loree Potash Women & Newborn Center on the third floor provides a family-focused home for expectant mothers and newborns. The unit is designed to exceed the highest standards for quality, expert care while meeting the unique needs and delivery preferences of each patient and their family. The experience is like walking into a first-class hotel with a high touch, calming, service-oriented process. A special care nursery/Level 3 NICU and breast center are also located here.

Drusinsky Sports Medicine Institute is a clinical care and treatment destination for athletes of all ages and talent levels. It offers comprehensive orthopedic services including performance training, on-site surgical services, and physical therapy, hydrotherapy as well as education and services to keep them at the top of their game. The prominent design feature is a field house with three-story volume and glazing that contains half a football field, a partial basketball court, batting cages, track and field surfaces, ballet bars and weight training. The sports-centric design is carried throughout the facility to serve as an inspiration for recovering athletes to get back out on the field. The Cutler Center for Men on the third floor showcases a new model of care for men, offering a full range of health care services. It is designed like a men’s lounge overlooking the football field to help motivate men to prioritize their health through prevention and wellness care.

The Design Impact

The expanded Ahuja Medical Center campus allows caregivers to efficiently provide quality health care and enhance the patient experience. The hospital embraces a “community of care” philosophy, promoting the welfare of both patients and staff through improved efficiencies, safety, and medical technology. With ample natural light and materials, the hospital brings the outside in and blends with its natural surroundings.

The environmentally responsible design incorporates wetlands, bio swales and native plants, while taking maximum advantage of passive solar energy. The pavilion and sports medicine complex make access to health care services easier and place a focus on wellness.

Project Features


Elisabeth Mejia

Case Studies

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.

A Future-thinking Office Refresh Embraces a Digital-Forward Strategy

Case Study

A Future-thinking Office Refresh Embraces a Digital-Forward Strategy

The Challenge

HKS designers partnered with McKinley Advisors, a consulting firm, to reimagine their Washington, D.C. office space for when employees returned following COVID-19 closures. As an organization dedicated to accelerating associations’ positive impact on the world, McKinley needed the space to meet the digital-forward needs of both their staff and clients. HKS’ approach incorporated staff input throughout the process to ensure alignment with expectations for an ideal work environment and expression of McKinley’s organizational core values.

The Design Solution

Using a data driven approach, HKS Advisory and Commercial Interiors teams worked together with the McKinley team to analyze prior employee survey data and deploy a continuation survey. This gauged interest in returning to the office and uncovered in-office, virtual and hybrid expectations, perceptions and experiences. The survey questions spanned from the pragmatic to the experiential to guide the holistic design and strategy approach. 

Survey results highlighted in-person team collaboration and professional development as the main reasons for coming into the office. To embrace the staff’s community-based motivators to come into the office, HKS focused on reallocating and redefining the existing workstations and individual office spaces to build new and more collaboration-focused spaces. 

In addition, the teams overlaid insights with senior leadership vision to bring various layers of design recommendations (e.g., furniture, layout, lighting and space typologies) with McKinley’s digital-forward company policy. The targeted recommendations, all non-structural interventions, for a $100,000 investment included reallocating most private offices to shared huddle/teaming rooms, refreshing conference and kitchen spaces and removing cubicles to replace them with an open, collaboration zone. The design team also recommended investing in updated technology to support hybrid employee/client teams.

The Design Impact

In 2021, McKinley announced that their staff could continue to have the option to work in-person in the Washington, D.C. office or remotely in approved areas. The firm implemented a new concept of “anchor days” to encourage teams to be in-person for professional development and hackathon sessions as COVID protocols continued to evolve to the changing CDC guidance to ensure all staff felt safe coming into the office.  

A post-occupancy employee survey found a high level of satisfaction with the new space and offered additional ideas for the next phase of renovation. McKinley implemented the staff feedback and improved signage that communicated new room types and functionality and provided training on the technology in the office. Today, the space is being used regularly for engaging hybrid programming and client events such as workshops, brainstorming sessions and collaborative meetings. 

Washington Business Journal, in partnership with Quantum Workplace, assessed employee satisfaction through staff surveys focusing on company culture, leadership, employee engagement, employee benefits and more. Based on those survey results, McKinley Advisors was named one of Washington Business Journal’s 2022 “Best Places to Work” in the Washington, D.C. region after the renovation project was completed. In 2023, McKinley was named a “Best Places to Work” honoree for the second year in a row. 

A work ecosystem with both structure and functional choice can foster a more adaptable and agile workforce. Click buttons to change ecosystem examples.

Working within the context of our client’s existing lease and repurposing existing furniture, we were able to reimagine space allocations to be shared and collaborative while providing the maximum variety of needs for on-site, hybrid and remote employees and guests alike. Click buttons to view floorplans.

“The partnership with HKS unlocked so much potential in our workspace. The team helped us to rethink how we were leveraging our space as a hub for collaboration. Today, our people don’t usually come into the office to sit on conference calls or Zoom meetings. Instead, they come to connect with their colleagues, to learn about the latest trends in our service lines and collaborate on new solutions for our clients. The space is more functional, enables more hybrid meetings and continues to support us as we grow.”

Suzanna Kelley, MBA, FAIA, Chief Experience Officer

Project Features


Shane Walton

New HKS-Designed Hokkaido Nippon Fighters Baseball Stadium Opens 

New HKS-Designed Hokkaido Nippon Fighters Baseball Stadium Opens 

The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters opened their new 35,000-capacity Es Con Field Hokkaido March 30 against the Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Japanese professional baseball league. The ballpark, designed by HKS, a global architecture and design firm, is the crown jewel of a luxury mixed-used development that sits on an 80-acre greenfield site in Kitahiroshima, Hokkaido, Japan. 

“This is the first new ballpark to open in Japanese baseball in two decades and it will quickly establish a new bar for fan experiences and amenities,” said Mike Rogers, a Principal with HKS. “The materials we used and specific design details are representative of historic Sapporo architecture and a tribute to the community that loves this team. It is a homecoming for the franchise to once again be playing games in Hokkaido and we’re proud to have created such a beautiful venue for the Fighters’ return.” 

“This is the first new ballpark to open in Japanese baseball in two decades and it will quickly establish a new bar for fan experiences and amenities.”

The new stadium features a retractable roof like the Fighters’ Major League Baseball counterpart in America, the Texas Rangers, whose Globe Life Field ballpark was also designed by HKS, and it has an asymmetrical outfield wall – only the second of its kind in Japanese pro baseball. The symbolic triangular façade resembles a typical Hokkaido gable roof shape, and the venue’s actual roof can hold and shed up to 14 feet of snow, a necessity because Hokkaido is one of the world’s snowiest locations. 

The stadium is oriented to get the most morning sun and optimize growing conditions for its Kentucky Bluegrass playing field. The fan experience is enhanced by the heavy use of glass to give the stadium and indoor/outdoor feel, as well as three large doors on the ground floor that allows fans to be outside during a game. Es Con Field Hokkaido also has 360-degree concourse, and the main entrance lobby is only 18 rows from the field. 

But Es Con Field Hokkaido is more than a baseball stadium. The area around it, known as Hokkaido Ballpark Village, will feature a museum, hotel, restaurant, sauna and brewery, all with views of the field.  The sauna, or Onsen, for which Hokkaido is known, will allow hotel guests to emerge from the water and sit on benches to watch a game. Plans also call for the opening later this year of a new child care center, as well as a senior living residence on the site by 2024 along with a medical mall. 

Turning Design Excellence into Effective Leadership: A Conversation with HKS CEO Dan Noble

Turning Design Excellence into Effective Leadership: A Conversation with HKS CEO Dan Noble

At HKS, we believe design can change people’s lives for the better. We strive to create beautiful buildings and communities that bring people together and solve real problems.

In his 39-year career at the firm, HKS President & CEO Dan Noble has observed the parallels between extraordinary design and impactful leadership. He’s noticed that the same character, purpose and relationships that contribute to excellent design lead to successful governance.

Reflecting on HKS’ legacy – and looking towards the future – Noble recently shared his thoughts on the firm’s rich history, his personal journey as a designer and leader and how lessons he’s learned from the design process translate into effective leadership.

What key aspects of HKS’ heritage are important to you as a leader?

HKS was founded in 1939 by Harwood K. Smith and his wife, Kate Robertson Smith. Harwood was an amazing entrepreneur, architect and artist. Born in Evanston, Illinois, he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago before moving to Dallas to pursue his passion for, and hone his skills in, architecture.

Harwood set the tone for informality and mentorship at HKS. He was known for walking through the office and engaging even the newest architects in discussions about what they were working on. That informality and humility, and the spirit that we are all in this together, set HKS apart today and contribute to our familial culture.  We are a large firm with a small firm culture.

For an 83-year-old enterprise, our line of succession is not very long. I am only the fifth President & CEO, building on Harwood’s legacy.

How has your journey at HKS progressed from design leader to President & CEO?

My tenure at HKS began in the fall of 1983 after I graduated from North Dakota State University and worked briefly with smaller firms in Houston. Today, HKS employs over 1,500 people across 26 offices worldwide. When I started at the firm, we were about 200 people strong, with one office in Dallas.

I was fortunate to work under the direction of past HKS presidents, Joe Buskuhl and Ralph Hawkins. With Joe’s leadership, the firm became known for our management and technical expertise. Ralph was equally interested in design excellence and geographic expansion.

I became Global Design Director of HKS in 2002. I had always worked collaboratively on projects but now I had a more active role in elevating our design firmwide and helping project teams find creative design solutions. The design problem, for me, shifted from developing solutions for individual buildings to creating more successful and creative design teams. I was still hands-on with design, participating in pinups and charrettes, but I had to transition from doing to directing.

What does Design Excellence mean to you?

Design Excellence of course encompasses aesthetic considerations, such as scale, rhythm, proportion, repetition, proper editing, delight, beauty and harmony. But it also entails building performance, enhancing the human experience and understanding the behavioral science of improving the environment.

The process of creating and executing an excellent design is more alchemic than paint-by-number.

What lessons have you learned from design that translated to your role as President & CEO of HKS?

Over the course of my career, I’ve learned that Design Excellence correlates closely with leadership excellence. Qualities that are essential to the design process – collaboration, incubation, iteration, failure, empathy, connection, innovation and humor – are just as important to effective leadership.

Collaboration – Bringing diverse teams together to discover the most creative solutions is something HKS believes in highly. Best practices in Health design may inspire solutions in Education, Hospitality ideas may make Workplaces more user-friendly and understanding crowd movement for Urban Planning can inform design solutions for our Sports group. And of course, Research can be a huge differentiator for all our practices. HKS works across practices and geographies to bring our clients the best talent available worldwide.

Incubation – Part of finding great solutions is listening to multiple stakeholders – including clients, consultants, users and community leaders – and letting ideas settle in. Let the game come to you a bit. Slow down to go fast. Taking time to engage with diverse partners can help you arrive at effective design solutions quicker. Being open to new ideas is essential.

Iteration – Once you collect that feedback, you can begin exploring ways to create solutions. Here is where you must exhibit some humility. Ego needs to take a back seat. It doesn’t matter where the best ideas come from, we build off each other’s ideas. I like it when a project team leaves the room and nobody knows exactly where an idea originated, but everyone feels like it was kind of their own.

Failure – As HKS’ Design Director, I tried to create a safe space for people to experiment. Being vulnerable and open to others is essential to innovation. As a leader, you have to avoid jumping in and trying to solve other people’s challenges. Sometimes design ideas fail, but failure is an important teaching moment. I routinely engage in 360-degree reviews to receive feedback on my own performance and try to continually learn how to be a more effective leader.

Empathy – I love being an architect. I love being hands-on and in the thick of things. But as HKS’ Design Director and later as the firm’s President & CEO, I had to learn to step back and let others find solutions. Sometimes people don’t do things the way you would. But having the patience and empathy to let people find their own paths is important to developing the next generation of leaders.

Connection – Finding that synergy between place, purpose and design is what great architecture is all about. Finding essential connections between people is important to designing a successful project and to running a successful business. After all, people create the synergy that results in great design solutions.

Innovation – True innovation is hard to come by. At HKS, we strive to hire people who are constantly challenging the status quo. And then we let them experiment, fail and learn. We’ve developed an entire Innovation sector to bring focus to this type of thinking and working. Developing this sector may have been HKS’ most transformational move. Do you want to be a commoditized vendor or a trusted advisor and partner? In the end, our brains and our thoughts are the most valuable assets we can offer the world. What can be automated and commoditized will be. Let’s not compete in a race to the bottom.

Humor – As a leader, you can’t take yourself too seriously. We spend most of our waking hours working with others – we can make it fun and fulfilling or a chore and a drag. The gift of humor shouldn’t be minimized.

How can leaders design and build better teams?

Part of being an effective leader is being in touch with your people, developing friendships and learning people’s strengths and weaknesses, passions and personalities. With understanding and empathy comes trust. Our people are our differentiators. Hire the best people you can find who share your values and give them the tools, training and mentorship they need to grow and evolve. And then get out of their way. Let them figure things out.

High-performing teams are built through inspiration, transparency, a certain degree of ambiguity, and diversity and inclusion.

Inspiration – Our job as leaders is to emulate the transparent culture that we aspire to, to establish the strategic direction we want to go and to inspire others to come along. In the book, The Way of the Shepherd: Seven Secrets to Managing Productive People, Kevin Leman wrote, “If you want your people to go above and beyond, they must see your passion, your heart. If it’s greatness that you want, it’s greatness that you must give.” You can’t be afraid to show that you care and that you’re passionate and committed to your purpose.

Transparency – Two things I continue to strive for as a leader are more transparency throughout the firm and the support of an effective feedback loop that includes all our people, regardless of their rank or experience. People walk into my office all the time – I encourage it. We have an “Ask Dan” feature on the HKS intranet that goes directly to me and enables people to ask me anything they want, anonymously or not. We’ve also instituted checks and balances to make sure every member of HKS’ Executive Board, including me, is holding true to our Strategic Plan. We are all held accountable to the firm’s established values and vision.

Ambiguity – I’ve learned to accept holding opposing ideas in my head at the same time. Decisions aren’t always black and white. Embracing the messy gray is crucial – it’s where the most profound solutions come from. I like to say that I’m comfortable with ambiguity as long as we’re clear about what we want to achieve.

Diversity & Inclusion – It’s no surprise to hear that our profession has lacked diversity, especially in the leadership ranks. This is partly because people tend to hire and promote those who are most like themselves. To help break this pattern, at HKS we have created a robust Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion program with a dedicated JEDI Director who is leading community outreach, education and enrichment programs that are helping us build a more diverse team and leadership. These efforts include our recently launched partner diversity program, HKS xBE, which is designed to help disadvantaged businesses build relationships and pursue new opportunities in the architecture and design professions. Diverse teams give rise to innovative thinking and increase the value of our work in the communities we serve.

How do you view the future of leadership at HKS?

We are fortunate to have a cadre of qualified people who can step into leadership roles. What I am looking for in our future leaders is innovation, creativity, empathy, grit, honesty, humility, optimism and heart.

Kyle Sellers

Stories

News, Announcements and Events

HKS in 2023: Projects To Get Excited About

HKS in 2023: Projects To Get Excited About

Named by Fast Company as one of the Most Innovative Companies in 2022, global design firm HKS is looking to grow our business and bring exciting, positive impact to communities around the world this year.

From improving design through innovation, research and equity-centered approaches, here’s an insightful snapshot of some projects and initiatives that we’re excited to see in 2023:

Pioneering Research and Designs that Transform Communities

1. Brain Health Research – HKS recently launched brand-new findings from the brain health study we conducted in partnership with the University of Texas at Dallas’ Center for BrainHealth® with insights into how people and companies can work smarter, more collaboratively and healthier. The report also includes what we’ve learned about designing workplaces to enhance cognitive functions and well-being.

2. Project Connect – The Austin Transit Partnership (ATP) just announced a major partnership with an international design team led by HKS, UNStudio and Gehl to create system-wide architecture and urban design for the light rail program of Project Connect, a major expansion of Austin’s public transit system.The collaborative team is getting to work on designing a technologically advanced, human-centric transit experience true to Austin’s culture and landscape.

Stunning New Places to Work and Relax

3. HKS New York City Office – Located in the NoMad neighborhood of Manhattan, HKS’ new New York City Office will open this spring. With a design inspired by the city’s complex transportation system and artistic culture, the office will be a center of creativity and innovation that serves as gateway destination for HKS’ global clients. Goals for the design include adaptable collaboration, acoustic comfort, access to nature and daylight — all key elements to support the health and productivity of designers working in one of the world’s biggest and busiest cities.

4. The Ritz-Carlton, Portland – HKS crafted the vision, developed the planning and strategy, sculpted the interior architecture and designed the furniture and finishes of the Ritz-Carlton that debuts this summer in downtown Portland, Oregon. This 35-story mixed-used high rise was created in partnership with Portland-based GBD Architects and BPM Real Estate Group. The interiors of the multifaceted building’s hotel, residential, retail and office spaces celebrate the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, native culture and craft and Portland’s spirit of exploration.

Game-changing Venues for Extraordinary Entertainment Experiences

5. ES CON Field Hokkaido – ES CON Field Hokkaido ballpark is a 35,000-capacity baseball stadium scheduled to open for play this spring in Japan. Home to the Pacific League’s Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters Baseball Club, the complex is the heart of a dynamic, master-planned mixed-used development. The stadium’s retractable roof and sliding glass outfield doors – which help grow natural turf – are among many firsts for a ballpark in the Asian market. Other highlights include a pair of 88-meter-long video boards that create an immersive digital experience, and traditional Japanese onsen natural hot spring baths that fans can enjoy while watching games.

6. Cosm — The first public venue for global experiential media company Cosm is undergoing construction throughout 2023 at Inglewood, CA’s Hollywood Park, home of HKS-designed SoFi Stadium and YouTube Theater. The venue will feature live sports, entertainment events and arts and music experiences in a future-forward immersive digital technology environment. Cosm is sure to bring even more cutting-edge entertainment value to the Los Angeles area when it opens next year.

State-of-the-art Education and Health Care Environments

7. Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center O’Quinn Medical Tower at McNair – The new O’Quinn Medical Tower, opening this spring, will house the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center, outpatient radiology and endoscopy services and an ambulatory surgery center. The medical tower and an adjacent 850-car parking garage addition are part of a multi-year project to consolidate patient care on Baylor St. Luke’s McNair Campus in Houston. This campus is located next to the Texas Medical Center and new TMC Helix Park, an area under development for world-class health care and research innovation.

8. UC San Diego Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood – Opening in the fall, UC San Diego’s Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood is a mixed-use student residential community that will also serve as a major public gateway to UC San Diego’s campus. Comprised of five buildings with student housing, academic, administration, a conference center and amenities such as dining, retail, and fitness, the Neighborhood is designed to enhance well-being and minimize environmental impact.

9. Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU Patient Tower – This full-service pediatric facility in Richmond, Virginia includes emergency, inpatient and outpatient care all connected to a robust academic medical center and the hospital’s award-winning CHoR Pavilion, also designed by HKS. Because children’s health care often causes significant stress on young patients, families, and care team members, the tower’s research-informed design is intended to create an oasis for children and make people feel calm and at ease. All areas feature easily navigable circulation patterns, natural light and soothing artwork and are intended to promote choice. The building will open this spring.

10. Mount Sinai Beth Israel Comprehensive Behavioral Health Center – Work at the Comprehensive Behavioral Health Center for Mount Sinai Beth Israel, a teaching hospital in New York City, involved the complete renovation of a six-story structure originally built in 1898. The facility, due to open this spring, is designed to support mental health care, physical health care, addiction treatment, social services and integrated outpatient care. It will be the first center for comprehensive behavioral health care in New York state.

Looking Ahead

These HKS projects, along with many others scheduled for 2023, continue to demonstrate how architecture and design can bring joy, comfort and connection anywhere in the world.

“These projects reflect our commitment to service and pursuit of excellence for our clients, partners and colleagues in the new year,” said Dan Noble, HKS President and CEO. “We appreciate the collaboration and partnership that led to these successes and look forward to the future.”

These projects reflect our commitment to service and pursuit of excellence for our clients, partners and colleagues in the new year.

Dan Noble, HKS President and CEO

HKS Launches HKS xBE to Cultivate Inclusion in Architecture & Design Industry

HKS Launches HKS xBE to Cultivate Inclusion in Architecture & Design Industry

HKS announces the launch of a new partner diversity program, HKS xBE, that gives xBE firms (a term inclusive of all disadvantaged businesses) and their members access to opportunities to build relationships, pursue new work and bolster innovation within the architecture and design professions.

The program has two primary components: a 12-week seminar, xBE Rise; and an xBE Network, which aims to increase diversity among the firm’s myriad partnerships for architecture and design projects.

“HKS is committed to building a more diverse workforce and partnership network across the AEC industry,” says HKS CEO Dan Noble. “We value a wide range of different ideas and perspectives which we believe enrich the profession of architecture, foster design innovation, and increase the community value of our work.”

“HKS is committed to building a more diverse workforce and partnership network across the AEC industry.”

HKS Director of Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Yiselle Santos Rivera, notes: “HKS xBE is a step in opening the profession of architecture to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive. We look forward to the relationships it will inspire.“

HKS invites xBE firms and their employees to participate in two ways:

  1. Firms may enroll in the HKSxBE Network, so that we better understand your culture, expertise, and business goals in hopes of fostering future collaboration. Eligible firms will hold one of the following certifications: Minority or Women-Owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE), Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses (SDVOB), Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUB), Disability-owned Business Enterprise (DIS), Small Business Enterprise (SBE) or LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE).
  2. Individuals may enroll in our 12-week seminar, xBE Rise. The purpose of xBE Rise is to learn how we might partner most effectively so that we are better positioned to serve clients and deliver industry-leading work together. Topics will mirror the phases of project design and delivery, and will include subjects such as contracts & risk management, marketing, community engagement and sustainable design. In each session, participants will explore barriers to success as well as perspectives on success for diverse teams.
Learn More & sign up