HKS’ Sidney M. Smith Uses Lessons from His Past to Build a New Legacy as a Black Architect

HKS’ Sidney M. Smith Uses Lessons from His Past to Build a New Legacy as a Black Architect

When Sidney Smith graduated from Florida A&M University at age 25 with a degree in architecture, friends in his hometown of Lynn Haven, Florida were shocked. Not because they didn’t think Smith was smart enough. They just hadn’t realized that he was attending college 95 miles away in Tallahassee because they saw him at home in Lynn Haven nearly every weekend.

Almost every Friday of his college career, Smith would pack his drafting board, design tools and tracing paper into his gold-rimmed 1988 Ford Mustang GT 5.0 and make the nearly two-hour drive back to Lynn Haven to spend time with his toddler son. The young single father would then wake early on Monday mornings for the return trip to campus in time for his 8 a.m. or 10 a.m. classes.

Although Smith hadn’t planned to become a father at that time, he said he didn’t get serious about life until his son, Khairi, was born.

Smith enrolled at FAMU so that he could earn a Bachelor of Architecture degree and still make those weekly trips home. He was determined to set a good example for his child.

“I made up my mind to graduate with honors, and I did,” said Smith, who graduated Cum Laude in 1995.

Smith has brought that same spirit of determination and devotion to his career at global design firm HKS, where in 2022 he was among the first African Americans to be named a Partner in the firm.

According to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, people who identify as Black or African American make up less than 2 percent of licensed architects in the U.S. As part of HKS’ celebration of Black History Month, Smith, who has been co-director of the Phoenix HKS office since 2022, shared his journey as an African American leader in the field.

Smith with his parents and four older brothers, circa 1982

‘American Story’

A descendant of Alabama sharecroppers, Smith inherited a strong work ethic and commitment to family life.

His maternal and paternal grandfathers were born in 1901 and 1899, respectively, roughly 35 years after the 1865 adoption of the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery in the U.S.

Under the sharecropping system, tenant farmers rented land in exchange for a portion of their annual harvest. Smith said both sets of his grandparents “worked to give away a lot of their profits and learned to raise their families on what they were given.”

Smith’s father, Julius “Doc” Smith, received a 9th-grade education and his mother, Della Smith, graduated high school. The two, who were married 55 years at the time of Doc’s death in 2016, raised five sons on the profits of a Lynn Haven business they owned, Doc’s Tire Repair.

“They started from nothing,” Smith said of the shop, which opened in 1974 and is now run by two of his older brothers. “It’s a true American story.”

The family business is “where I learned about hard work, relationships and being true to your word,” Smith said.

“I also learned about not overpromising and underperforming. My dad was very big on making sure that if he told someone that he could get a job done, he would do it and he would do it timely. So this was instilled in me at a very early age.”

Smith grew up in Florida in the 1970s and 1980s

Early Life

Born in 1970 as the youngest of five brothers, Smith recalls having “a great childhood, just playing outside until the streetlights came on.”

He and his brothers helped at the tire shop and were into anything with wheels – toy Matchbox cars, go-karts, three-wheelers, bicycles.

“We used to love building these Evel Knievel-type ramps, trying to jump ditches,” Smith said, referring to the late motorcycle stunt performer who was popular in the 1970s. “Fortunately, I never had any broken bones.”

Smith spent a lot of time drawing as a child, particularly superheroes.

“My best was probably Spider-Man,” he said. “People often ask, ‘What made you get into architecture?’ For me it was a love of drawing.”

Growing up in the Florida panhandle, Smith experienced racism in ways that reverberate with him to this day.

“You’d like to think that in the 70s and 80s, you would escape racism. But there was no way to escape it in the South,” Smith said. “There were times when you felt out of place. You even felt threatened at times. There were times when you were called the n-word.”

Looking back, he said, “those were probably some of the lowest moments of my life. There’s no way to ever erase those thoughts from your mind. They’re still as fresh today as they were when those incidents happened.”

By the grace of God, his family survived through difficult times, Smith said, adding that culturally, “we’ve seen changes but there’s still a lot of work to do.”

Smith in New York City during the Florida A&M University (FAMU) School of Architecture trip to the 1994 National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) conference; Smith with his father following Smith’s FAMU graduation ceremony in Tallahassee, 1995

Quick Learner

Smith performed well in high school and wanted to attend the University of North Carolina, but his application was rejected.

So, he began studying pre-architecture at a local junior college, his interest in the profession stoked by a high school drafting class. He was going to school and working at his parents’ shop when he realized he wanted something different for his life.

He transferred to FAMU, signing on for an extra year of coursework because many of his junior college credits weren’t accepted by the FAMU School of Architecture program.

“I didn’t know if it would pay off,” Smith said, noting the scarcity of African American role models in architecture during his student days. “I honestly did not have a clue about what my future would entail after college.”

After he graduated, Smith returned home to Lynn Haven to figure out that future. His job search was frustrated by his inexperience with AutoCAD design software.

Using the 386DX computer he received from his parents as a graduation gift and a bootleg copy of AutoCAD version 10, Smith applied himself to learning the software.

“That’s what I did every day after working in my dad’s shop, teach myself enough AutoCAD to land a job,” Smith said.

He reached out to a FAMU classmate who was working as an architect in nearby Panama City and inquired about job leads. His friend introduced Smith to Bayne Collins, “one of the best-known architects in Panama City” at the time, according to Smith.

“I went on an interview, and I was honest with him. I said, ‘I don’t know AutoCAD as well as I should, but I’m a quick learner,’” Smith said.

Collins had reason to believe the young aspiring architect and hired him in the summer of 1995 at his firm, Collins & Associates.

“Bayne Collins knew my family, knew my dad – my dad had done tire work for him years before,” Smith said. “All the stars lined up.”

Smith and Casper on their wedding day, 1997

Opportunity Calls

That same year, Susan Casper started her first job as a television news personality in Panama City. Casper had attended the University of West Florida with a mutual friend of Smith’s who gave Casper his telephone number. In the age before social media, Smith was curious about what Casper was like and asked friends and relatives if they knew anything about her.

One friend eventually told him, “When that phone rings, you need to pick up,’” said Smith. “I answered the call.”

That “amazing conversation” led to another, Smith said, and eight months later he proposed marriage. The couple wed in May 1997.

Casper soon landed a position in Tampa, where she would go on to become the first African American woman to anchor a primetime newscast in Tampa. Looking to relocate closer to his wife’s new job, Smith asked another FAMU classmate, Jeff Bush, who worked in what was then the HKS Tampa office, if he knew anyone who was hiring in the region.

Bush, who is now a Principal and Senior Project Manager at HKS Orlando, was aware of an imminent job opening at HKS – his own. He was about to go back to school for his master’s degree.

Smith interviewed and was “basically offered the job on the spot,” he said.

When he started at Collins & Associates, Smith had sworn to himself that he’d never again be in the position of not knowing the tools of his trade. Since then, he said, he’d “learned everything there was to learn about AutoCAD” – including writing his own lisp files and code.

“When I interviewed at HKS, that’s exactly what they needed.”

Smith during a field observation jobsite walk at HKS’ 850 Phoenix Bioscience Core project, 2020; Smith celebrating after sinking a 30’ putt at the Arizona Biltmore Golf Club, 2022

Driving Forward

In addition to his roles as Office Director and Partner, Smith has also served as a Senior Construction Administrator and a Project Manager since joining HKS. He has worked in HKS’ Health, Sports & Entertainment, Commercial, Residential Mixed-Use and Life Science practice areas. His projects include BOE Hefei Digital Hospital in China, a 1000-bed facility that involved eight HKS offices and approximately 65 HKS staff members worldwide.

In 2008, Smith and his family – which by then included twin 3-year-old daughters, Sophia and Sierra – moved to Phoenix so that he could be the lead construction administrator on HKS’ Phoenix Children’s Hospital project.

“Phoenix Children’s is still our client today,” Smith said.

Smith with HKS colleagues Jeffrey Stouffer and Jeff Kabat at a fundraising event to support Phoenix Children’s Hospital, 2019

Jeffrey Stouffer, Global Sector Director of HKS’ Community practice and an Executive Vice President and Partner in the firm, attributes such long-standing client relationships to Smith’s accessibility and willingness to listen.

“He’s empathetic and he’s wise,” said Stouffer.

As the principal-in-charge and principal designer of Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Stouffer said he was privileged to watch Smith develop his natural skills as a leader.

When Smith joined the hospital project, “I immediately saw leadership qualities” in him, said Stouffer. “He related to clients with confidence (but) without any arrogance. He’s always been very measured and he thinks before he speaks. He represents the best in HKS.”

Keith Lashley is a Senior Construction Administrator at HKS who, in 2011, was among the first African Americans to become a Principal at HKS. Lashley said Smith “has a unique ability to engage with people and meet them at their level. And he has a very infectious laugh.”

Lashley and Smith met when both worked for HKS in Florida. The two have maintained a friendship despite Smith’s move across the country.

“We still connect, knowing that this is a very difficult journey for African Americans, people of color,” Lashley said. “I consider Sid more of a colleague than a mentee. It takes rowing in the same direction.”

As Smith’s career progressed at HKS, he realized that a partnership in the firm was within his reach. “I thought, ‘If I can make it as a Partner, that will be a pinnacle for me,’” Smith said.

“It just kept driving and pushing me forward, knowing that my father was a business owner with a 9th-grade (education) and my mom graduated from high school,” he said. “(My father) never lived to see me become a Partner – that’s one of my biggest regrets – but I can only imagine how proud he is of me.”

Smith with his family, 2023 (left to right: Sierra, Susan, Sidney, Sophia)

Legacy

Helping to increase the visibility of African American architects is meaningful to Smith, a member of the Arizona Chapter (NOMAarizona) of the National Organization of Minority Architects. He said that within the group there are often talks about the “lonely only” – being the only African American in an office or meeting. “It’s unfortunate,” Smith said. “We have to help as much as we can to change that.”

He added that “at the same time, we, as African Americans, have to also help ourselves.” He said that one way future architects and design professionals can do that is to actively pursue licensure.

“It’s hard enough as a minority in the field to be seen. It’s even harder to compete when you’re not registered,” Smith said.

Beyond encouraging registration, Smith often tells young architects that cultivating a diverse set of skills can help them manage the economic ups and downs of the architecture, engineering and construction industry.

As Smith has advanced in his profession – and endeavored to help his profession advance – his family has also grown and matured.

The child he nurtured during his college years is now a married father of two. The twin preschoolers Smith and his wife brought to Arizona are in their first year at Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University.

Marveling at his children’s successes, Smith is reminded of the lessons he learned years ago back at Doc’s Tire Repair that have helped push him to the top of his field.

“They’re listening,” Smith said proudly of his children. “Like I listened to my dad.”

Smith with his son, Khairi, at Khairi’s graduation from FAMU, 2013; Smith with twins Sierra (left) and Sophia (right) prior to their high school graduation, 2023

CUNY Lehman College Nursing Education, Research, and Practice Center

Case Study

CUNY Lehman College Nursing Education, Research, and Practice Center City University of New York Helps Heal Nursing Shortage Gap

Bronx, New York USA

The Challenge

The Department of Nursing at Lehman College was located within an older classroom building that was never intended to house nursing skills training. Instructors created makeshift patient rooms and simulation environments, but the real-life environment setting that benefits nursing students was missing. Their space also did not meet current health care standards for minimum room areas and bedside clearances, making bedside training difficult, especially when multiple students were involved. As the only 4-year college in the Bronx, with nursing being one of the top five- majors at the school, CUNY asked HKS to give the nursing program the physical prominence on campus to match the critical nature of educating nurses. The goal was to impact local health outcomes in the disparity-challenged Bronx and to make strides toward mitigating the area’s nursing shortage.   

The Design Solution

The Lehman College Nursing Education, Research, and Practice Center promotes student success by providing real-life immersive learning environments lacking in their previous facilities. The first level of the new 4-story building is dedicated to a lobby, computer lab, classrooms and a student lounge. Levels 2 and 3 house graduate research labs, faculty offices, dean’s suite, conference rooms and more classrooms. The inclusion of graduate labs for supporting and furthering doctoral research reinforces Lehman’s commitment to creating leaders in nursing. In the basement, students find state-of-the-art nursing skills labs and simulation lab. The basement level was built into the hillside, allowing daylighting from the north, so all skills and simulation rooms are daylit and have exterior views, as a true patient room would in a hospital. These improved learning environments are tailored to the pedagogy and student needs.

A central theme of the healing power of nature is reflected in the interior color palette of green and natural tones, with daylighting and views to nature promoted on all levels of the building. The nursing labs are adjacent to each other, which is convenient for students and faculty, and allows for training in the continuum of care and interdisciplinary scenarios.

The Design Impact

The Nursing Education, Research, and Practice Center features leading technologies to support the education of nurses capable of caring for the underserved population of the Bronx. College administrators emphasized the importance of having trained nurses in the local workforce who can speak the various second languages prevalent in the Bronx, and who can understand the culture of their patient population, such as diet and cultural traditions.

The college is a leading institution for social mobility in New York state and the Northeast. Earning a degree in nursing and passing the NCLEX sets a student up for a $70,000 annual salary, which can boost a low-income family into the middle class.

The impact on recruitment and retention of nursing students positively impacts local health outcomes and helps resolve the critical local nursing shortage situation.

Project Features


5th & John Life Science Building

Case Study

5th & John Life Science Building 5th & John Brings Delight to Seattle Uptown Neighborhood

Seattle, WA

The Challenge

Lincoln Property Company selected HKS and local Seattle firm Compton Design Office to design a core & shell building to house biological lab and office functions that would also provide a future hub of neighborhood activity and reflect the eclectic nature of its surrounding context. The project site is adjacent to the Seattle Center, home of the famed Space Needle and origin point for the city’s monorail, which runs parallel to the property. The building massing and façade design respond to both the kineticism of the train’s movement and are emblematic of the progressive optimism embodied by the Seattle Center.

The Design Solution

Observing the train’s elevated path as an implied boundary extending through the district, the concept of the “Datum of Delight” was developed to describe this virtual line between the space of the ground-level experience and space of the contextual built environment above. The Datum introduces elements of surprise, excitement, and inspiration to the site by differentiating the types of experiences that occur both above and below. Through the medium of the Datum, the project responds to the rich culture of spectacle and arts in Uptown and enhances the pedestrian experience along 5th Avenue and John Street.

From this, the project’s primary design focus is the creation of delight; the development of unique and memorable experiential conditions for both the pedestrian who engages with the site directly and the observer who interacts visually from a distance. At ground level, the design responds to the rich culture and eclectic nature of the Uptown neighborhood, providing active open space with opportunities for neighborhood residents and visitors to connect, enhancing the pedestrian experience along 5th Avenue and John Street and celebrating an exceptional site tree within an expansive public space. Above the datum, the façade responds to the context of the site through a distinct massing and curtain wall design that expresses the vibrancy of the neighborhood and responds to the activity and speed of the adjacent monorail line. The façade further illustrates an active response to the monorail’s presence through a kinetic light installation to create an enduring phenomenon in the district and a natural extension of the progressive spirit of the Seattle Center.

The façade design is also an integral part of the project’s strategy to reduce energy loads while maximizing user comfort and views relative to solar orientation through strategic shading, fenestration depth and density. This aids in minimizing the load on the existing power grid in concert with other choices such as using renewable energy sources, eliminating the use of natural gas fuel and specification of an energy-saving mechanical system.

The Design Impact

The decision to provide a 3,000 sf (278 sm) outdoor amenity space at grade allowed the design team to add an additional 0.5 FAR (13,500 sf, or 1,254 sm) to the building area while also providing the neighborhood with a new community focal point and space for engagement and activity.

The project is being submitted for LEED Gold certification and was designed as an all-electric powered facility to minimize its carbon footprint on day one, providing a solar-ready infrastructure at the roof to transition a portion of its energy supply to solar panels in the future. The inclusion of a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) mechanical system provides additional savings on energy use.

Project Features


Robert DeGenova

Increased Demand for Building Design in the U.S. Southwest Fueled by Growing Metros

Increased Demand for Building Design in the U.S. Southwest Fueled by Growing Metros

The Southwest region of the United States is home to several of the fastest-growing metro areas in the country. Small- and mid-sized cities, as well as large metropolises such as Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and Phoenix — which just surpassed Philadelphia as the nation’s fifth largest city — are all growing at a phenomenal pace. And all that growth is translating into an increased demand for building design and construction.

“The growing population and economy in this region is driving demand for new types of environments in a variety of sectors including residential, commercial, science and technology and health,” said Scott Hunter, HKS Regional Director for Americas West. “More people means more opportunities to design innovative places that support their daily lives.”

Why Companies Are Putting Down Roots in the Southwest

People are moving to the Southwest to take advantage of lifestyle benefits such as proximity to natural resources and relatively lower costs of living compared to large cities in California and New York. And large corporations are following the people to reap the benefits of Southwest states’ cheaper land and smaller amount of red tape.

Emir Tursic and Mike Vela, office directors of HKS Salt Lake City, said conditions are favorable for companies coming from out-of-state to build new developments or move into existing properties in Utah.

“There is a different approach here. The governments here are a lot more collaborative and less regulatory,” said Tursic.

Arizona also has a business-friendly environment, according to Sidney Smith, office director of HKS Phoenix. He noted that the state’s population influx is driving growth across construction market sectors.

Though most major U.S.-based corporations maintain headquarters in coastal cities, many — including financial giants like Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo — now have large outposts in Salt Lake City and Phoenix.

But no sector is capitalizing on the opportunities of the Southwest quite as much as the tech industry.

About 25 miles south of Salt Lake City, an area dubbed “Silicon Slopes” has become a destination for tech start-ups and long-established players including eBay and Adobe Systems. Similar small and mid-size metro areas throughout Utah, Arizona and Nevada have attracted technology companies and as a result, speculative commercial office buildings and new or renovation-ready properties for mission critical facilities have both surged.

“Tech companies are looking at creating massive data centers where they can get cheap, abundant power, where less expensive land is readily available, and where the regulatory climate is much easier to get things approved. It’s a rapidly growing market for us,” said Hunter, noting that HKS offices in the region are working hard to design secure mission critical facilities like Aligned Data Centers in West Jordan, Utah.

A Growing Emphasis on Science and Technology

Beyond access to affordable and abundant real estate, the growing appetite for tech facilities in the Southwest is aided by the region’s number of world-class research universities.

“Having a large pool of educated graduates is part of why the tech industry is growing so much,” Vela said, referencing large schools such as University of Utah in Salt Lake City and Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

In Arizona, tech firms are taking advantage of the talent coming out of institutions there, including Arizona State and the University of Arizona.

A lot of companies, especially ones from California, are thinking, ‘Why should we hire people from out-of-state and bring them here where the cost of living is higher when we could just meet them where they are and have them work in the state where they are graduating’,” Smith said.

Arizona’s major universities and large health care systems are strategically aligning with private industry to create science and innovation corridors, Smith said. HKS is leveraging our nearly 30-year history working with major health systems and allied industries in the Southwest and Mountain states to build relationships and influence the future of sci-tech design and development.

These clients tend to rely on one another for research and evolution,” Smith said. “Science and technology rely on health care and vice versa. We can be the conduit between those two to help them learn more about each other’s practice and how they work.”

Smith cited HKS-designed 850 PBC in Phoenix as a key example of how integration among biomedical, technology, and research institutions can support relationship and community building.

The wave of science and tech developments isn’t limited to suburbs or university-adjacent locations. Tursic said that in Salt Lake City, there is a “very deliberate effort” at the local government level to nurture the biotech industry. City officials, he noted, are implementing a zoning change that would allow life science labs to be built downtown, which will aid the development of integrated innovation districts in the urban core.

New Lifestyles Drive Mixed-Use, Residential, Commercial and Entertainment Design

As more and more companies have flocked to Phoenix and Salt Lake City, the number of young professionals, young families, and people who are used to living in bigger, denser cities has grown. Phoenix, in particular, has a diverse residential building stock drawing people to its downtown area including condos, high rises, and historic properties.

In addition to wanting places to live downtown, younger demographics are also increasing demand for mixed-use amenities and places where they can socialize, eat, and enjoy entertainment all within a short walk of one another.

“There’s real synergy. What we’ve called ‘live, work, and play’ for a long time — we’re seeing really come to fruition in a market like ours now,” said Tursic.

HKS has long designed hospitality and sports destinations in the region. Utah mountain resorts such as Montage Deer Valley and baseball spring training facilities in Arizona including Salt River Fields at Talking Stick are examples of how HKS designers have been able to provide world-class amenities for short-term visitors.

Now, the firm is taking that experience and expertise into city centers to serve the growing metro populations who live there 365 days a year. Tursic said HKS’ recent amenity-rich projects in Salt Lake City — ranging from luxury residential high-rise Astra Tower to large mixed-use hotel developments and smaller social clubs like the newly-opened Edison House — speak to Salt Lake City’s positive transformation.

Vela credits the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics as a major turning point in recent history. He said it enhanced the public’s perception of the city and started a significant invigoration of downtown.   

“Downtown is alive. There are places to eat and bars, and the theaters that we have been able to design,” Vela said, noting that the HKS-designed George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater and its 2,500-seat performance hall gave the city the ability to host major entertainment acts and attract visitors and locals alike to enjoy events downtown.

Both HKS Phoenix and HKS Salt Lake City are moving later this year to new offices that they designed in the heart of their respective downtowns where employees in those offices can enjoy the benefits of mixed-use developments. Those offices’ leaders are working to expand relationships and build new ones to design more properties that support lifestyles of people residing in Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and beyond.

Maturing Markets

As the Southwest population continues to surge, a backswing in affordability of residential and commercial design and construction is already occurring. Metro areas are attempting to prevent this, in part by supporting integrated design and planning solutions such as transit-oriented development and adaptive re-use of existing buildings.

Seeking to provide the built environment people need to thrive, even amid constraints of an ever-changing development market, designers see exciting opportunities for the future of architecture in Southwest states.

HKS leaders said that the region’s development approaches are maturing, meaning design projects are increasing in sophistication. Technology and mission critical, health and life sciences, and residential and commercial mixed-use are all in-demand building types that require a high level of skill and expertise.

“HKS’ legacy of delivering complex projects — from large medical hospitals to high-rise residential towers and major sports facilities — uniquely position the firm to partner with building owners, developers, and cities for the types of projects the Southwest region needs right now,” Hunter said.

The four office directors of HKS Phoenix and Salt Lake City — each of whom is a transplant and chose to call the Southwest home just like many of the millions moving there now — are excited be a part of building the region’s future.

It’s genuinely a great place to live, work, raise a family and it’s growing so much,” Vela said of Salt Lake City. “It’s gratifying as an architect to have a hand in changing the face of the city for the good. That’s why we do what we do.”

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

Jessica Limbri

Case Studies

Michael Anderson

Case Studies

TÜV SÜD BioChem Laboratory Expansion

Case Study

TÜV SÜD BioChem Laboratory Expansion A Space-Efficient Laboratory Expansion to Increase Global Testing Capacity

New Brighton, Minnesota, USA

The Challenge

TÜV SÜV — a German testing, inspection, and certification company — enlisted HKS to design a 20,000-square-foot (1,858 square meter) laboratory expansion due to an overwhelming need for additional medical device testing in its Minnesota lab. Space for lab expansion was limited to the east side of the site, leaving a small area to add required additional parking and a mechanical equipment yard.

The Design Solution

Designers positioned the expansion on the east side of the original building, running parallel to First Avenue. Additional parking is located on the south side of the expansion and on the west side of the original building. The mechanical yard is nestled between the added parking and the expansion on the south side.  

The expansion houses a variety of features that enable additional testing, including instruments for biocompatibility testing in compliance with the International Organization for Standardization’s standards for the biological evaluation of medical devices, as well as sterile packaging and transportation simulation services. These capabilities add to the existing electromagnetic compatibility testing and electrical safety testing capacity of the original facility. 

In addition to the increased testing capacity, the expansion features an office space and staff respite areas on the opposite side of the expansion from the lab areas. The office space includes a conference room and a phone room in addition to an open work area. The employee break room and locker room are located across from the office space.

The Design Impact

The New Brighton lab expansion functions as a hub for testing service delivery in the United States, allowing TÜV SÜD to provide a greater testing capacity for its American clients. By utilizing laboratory modular design, the HKS design team was able to efficiently use the site’s limited square footage. The state-of-the-art laboratory helps to reduce the impact of technological risks and protects people, assets and the environment. 

Project Features


How Design Can Advance Translational Science

How Design Can Advance Translational Science

Just like the design industries, scientific research and health care fields must be collaborative and focused on outcomes that improve peoples’ lives.

Translational science strengthens researchers’ abilities to work together across disciplines. In medical centers, research institutions and pharmaceutical companies, translation is a process that takes scientific observations and data from different labs, clinics, and community organizations to develop new approaches for improving individual and public health.

Demand for life science research and medical facilities that support translational science is steadily rising. Infectious diseases and pandemics have become more prevalent, bringing with them the need for fast and responsive therapeutics and new vaccines. And advancements in biological sciences are leading to new medical approaches with shorter timelines between research, diagnostics and care delivery.

The mission of translational research, specifically as it relates to health science, is to develop outcome-driven solutions that focus on the patient. Spaces that provide opportunities for scientists, health care workers and patients to connect with one another are crucial to advancing that mission. As designers of life science and health care environments — including academic research facilities, unified academic science centers, pharmaceutical company campuses, hospitals and clinics — we strive to create places that build bridges across disciplines and among researchers, practitioners and patients.

Spaces that Foster Engagement

A fundamental goal of translational science spaces is to foster intellectual collisions. Points of convergence where scientists from diverse research disciplines, medical practitioners and students can engage in intentional and impromptu discussions are a necessity in translational facilities. In addition to designing intentional collaboration spaces, we are learning to design niches and social gathering spots because friendly chats often turn into conversations that may catalyze new ideas for collaborative outcomes.

Informal spaces, like stairwells or landings often end up being used for these purposes, but more intentional design strategies can be deployed at multiple scales. Semi-private gathering spots or co-working stations throughout a building near stairs, elevators, and hallways provide options for people to spark up new conversations. Additionally, spaces that provide opportunities for people to connect near shared amenities such as a coffee bar or a kitchen are beneficial and often, they see higher levels of traffic than conference rooms or dedicated meeting spaces.

Inside labs and clinics, seating areas near research and treatment spaces can be good places for researchers and practitioners to touch base with one another. At Emory Executive Park Musculoskeletal Institute in Georgia — a health care and research center designed by HKS with a range of facilities from patient-centered physical therapy to clinical laboratories — such spaces are located throughout the building including in labs, clinics, and public spaces.

Labs at Emory Executive Park Musculoskeletal Institute are designed to provide ample places for researchers to discuss their work, including open workspaces near perimeter windows with plenty of natural light and views of nature.

There is a reason why science, medicine and research facilities are often built near one another on campuses or in hubs — bringing diverse entities together creates efficiencies and promotes discovery. When working with clients who envision a convergence of science, research and medicine on a multi-building scale, we design masterplans that can propel translational science and build connections.

Placemaking strategies such as citing gathering areas near attractors like dining amenities, lounges, or fitness centers, encourage interaction between people serving different cross-departmental functions. HKS-designed CapitalMED Medical City in Cairo — a massive mixed-use and academic medical campus with a hospital, nine specialty institutes and residential buildings — demonstrates the power of designing for convergence. Its master plan includes seating areas placed along shaded pathways and in lush gardens where students, clinicians, and researchers can connect, and patients and family members can relax.

CapitalMED Medical City in Cairo includes several health and academic facilities as well as a shopping center and residential buildings — all connected by public gardens and pathways that promote convergence and engagement.

In addition to designing translational science workplaces that allow researchers and clinicians to complete focused, heads-down work, at HKS we endeavor to design comfortable, engaging spaces for conversation and ideation.

Places for Knowledge Exchange and Discovery

When a conversation in a translational science workplace evolves from a friendly chat into a deep discussion about work — what happens to the knowledge shared? Researchers and staff benefit from spaces designed to help them formalize their ideas and carry them forward.

On medical campuses or in large research hubs, spaces that support knowledge sharing are often placed around shared scientific equipment. Locations where people go to use specific resources such as large and expensive testing devices or specialty labs, are ideal for gathering spots that support communal connection and attract employees who want to learn from other fields of study or work.

Multi-tenant buildings can be designed with spaces that help teams accelerate research outcomes to create new products, business strategies or practice methods. 850 Phoenix Bioscience Core (850 PBC) houses several types of facilities including university and private research labs, entrepreneurial innovation centers, and a translational health clinic. Designed by HKS architects and interior designers, the building includes multiple incubator hubs where students, researchers and other collaborators develop and present new ideas to push bioscience forward.

In buildings that encompass both research and practice, flexible support spaces with tools and technology such as white boards or interactive screens are key for capturing information and making plans for how to integrate it into future work. Often coinciding with informal engagement spaces, these can be placed along circulation paths or in interstitial areas between labs, clinics and common amenities. The translational clinic floor at 850 PBC for example, includes breakout spaces designed for professional conversations as well as comforting waiting areas for people participating in research studies and testing.

850 PBC’s translational clinic floor offers daylight and a visual connection to the surrounding community along the hallways. The floor features spaces for researchers and health practitioners to connect and share new ideas and information.

Traditionally, science and health facilities are somewhat stark with clean lines and surfaces, neutral colors and technical equipment. But while sterility is a safety and sanitation requirement for many labs and office types, it’s not a requirement for the look and feel of all spaces in a building or campus.

We believe the most effective collaboration spaces need to be designed to make people feel comfortable engaging with them. Social communal areas designed for various scales provide a variety of options for people to gravitate to when they want to relax and connect with others. Locations for cognitive restoration are important; they offset highly focused, structured environments in the rest of the facility. Respites areas with daylight, views, technology, and a variety of comfortable seating for various types of informal gatherings inherently benefit translational interactions.

Welcoming and Inclusive Environments

In addition to enhancing discourse among those working in research and health care environments, translational approaches are creating more equity for patients. New developments in genetics, for example, are carving pathways for personalized medicine — where health practitioners can provide customized treatment that suit individuals and how their bodies respond to disease.

Personalized medicine works against historic prejudices that have been embedded in research and health studies, which have traditionally targeted white male populations. Building codes and design specifications for scientific facilities have also historically favored these populations, often catering to them as opposed to diverse demographic groups of researchers, staff or practitioners.

Research study participants, people involved in clinical trials, or patients seeking care can easily feel excluded or uneasy in a health science environment; it’s important that spaces are designed with their experiences in mind. Design solutions that help ease anxiety and stress for people include inviting points of entry, comfortable waiting areas and easy-to-navigate corridors with clear wayfinding elements. At Emory Executive Park Musculoskeletal Institute, waiting areas feature two story windows, simple and readable signs and a variety of indoor and outdoor seating arrangements so visitors have choices for how and where they wait.

The design of Emory Executive Park Musculoskeletal Institute is patient-centered and includes myriad daylit spaces and interior design elements inspired by body systems.

Translational environments that reflect the needs of diverse backgrounds establish trust and aid connection between health science professionals and the public. 850 PBC is designed to provide equitable experiences for members of the scientific community and the community at large. The building includes hospitable public spaces, and its second-floor translational clinic is intended to prioritize unmet needs of community participants who need physiological monitoring and testing, including local native populations who live with high rates of diabetes. The building also serves as a gateway between a developing scientific campus and Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row Arts District, a neighborhood with a rich legacy of hosting public cultural events. The interior design includes bioscience-inspired art, furniture and millwork created by local artists and artisans.

Located adjacent to Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row Arts District, 850 PBC is designed to connect with the neighborhood art scene and invite the public inside for local cultural events.

By working with and for the communities where these buildings and spaces are built, we can support better design outcomes, better research outcomes and ultimately, better health outcomes.

Joining Hands to Move Translational Science Forward

As designers and researchers, we focus on solving complex problems. It’s something we have in common with people working in translational science environments. We collaborate across sectors and fields to understand what people want and need out of the spaces where they work, conduct research and receive care.

At HKS, we are excited by the possibilities of translational science and are committed to designing engaging environments and advancing the well-being of communities. Through collaboration, research and innovative design, we support clients and organizations in their mission to unlock new discoveries in health sciences.

If you would like to learn how designers and developers can leverage these insights, please contact Don Bush or Matthew O’Grady.

Don Bush

Stories

Why Mass Timber Makes Sense – and Saves Dollars

Why Mass Timber Makes Sense – and Saves Dollars

HKS is a firm committed to exploring new building methods and materials, community health, design excellence and sustainability. That’s why we are a major proponent of the advantages of mass timber construction. Even though mass timber buildings represent only a fraction — less than .000189 percent — of the country’s commercial buildings, there are many reasons why this building type is a smart choice.

While some claim mass timber can be as much as 5 percent less expensive than steel and concrete construction, additional cost savings are possible through shorter construction time of prefabricated panels, less labor required for installation and in lower foundation costs due to less structural weight than in the material itself, which can cost as much or slightly more than concrete per square foot.

Mass timber also sequesters CO2 and its manufacture is far less carbon intensive than either concrete or steel. In addition, mass timber has a high strength-to-weight ratio that allows it to perform well during seismic activity, and its fire resistance properties meet or exceed most code requirements.

Mass Timber Buildings Have Health Benefits

There are also considerable health and aesthetic benefits of mass timber construction.

Research shows a link between exposed wood structural elements and greater workplace satisfaction and productivity. Studies also point to a growing body of evidence that natural materials, plants, natural light and access to nature relieve stress, the underlying cause of many forms of physical and mental illness. Variations in color and texture of wood and its tactile qualities can be both healthful and beautiful.

There are also considerable health and aesthetic benefits of mass timber construction.

Health facilities have been wary of mass timber due to the need for infection control. Because mass timber is engineered, its surface is smooth, free from cracks and knots seen in raw wood. It can also be coated creating a surface that can withstand industrial cleaning agents. Unlike other building materials, it also has reduced off-gassing, which translates into better air quality.

HKS Principal Kirk Teske notes the advantages of bundling underfloor air distribution (UFAD) with mass timber.

“Because UFAD doesn’t mix the air in the occupied zones like traditional forced air systems, it’s healthier,” Teske said. “UFAD also allows you to keep the HVAC ducts, electrical conduits, and data cables under the floor leaving the wood structure exposed. Done correctly, you feature the biophilic aspects of the wood structure with only the sprinkler piping and lighting systems remaining as a part of the ceiling structure.”

Considering the post-pandemic state of the commercial office market, Teske believes this combination would provide that sector with a unique niche offering that is especially attractive to corporate users that value environmental sustainability and healthy alternatives for their employees.

The HKS-designed Colorado Research Exchange will feature a 15,960 sf amenity center constructed with mass timber.

The Flexibility of Wood

Our practice spans a multitude of building types from senior living to commercial mixed use, education to hospitality, health to sports and more. Regardless of the building type, our clients are interested in creating spaces that are highly functional, adaptable, affordable and celebrated by users and the community-at-large.

Mass timber products, which come in a variety of sizes and forms, can help fill the bill. Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), is a wood panel system that uses wood stacked crosswise at a 90-degree angle and glued into place. Its strength, dimensional stability and rigidity make it suitable for use in mid-and high-rise construction. Nail-Laminated Timber (NLT), is dimensional lumber placed on edge with individual laminations fastened with nails or screws.

Dowel-Laminated Timber (DLT), panels are stacked like NLT and friction-fit together with hardwood dowels. Its strength comes from friction of the dowels, so it doesn’t use adhesives, nails or screws making it more sustainable, easier to mill and attractive for exposed structures. Glued-Laminated Timber (Glulam), is a structural engineered wood product commonly used for beams and columns. It allows for long spans of exposed framing as well as curvature.

So, Why Aren’t There More Mass Timber Buildings?

While hailing the energy-saving features of mass timber, some skeptics have expressed concern for deforestation due to wood’s increasing popularity.

“Most of the wood used in mass timber comes from trees that can be sustainably managed through responsible forestry practices,” explained Teske. “With smart design and planning and collaboration with knowledgeable manufacturers and contractors, we can mitigate any possible downside to using wood. A 2014 study stated that using wood as a building-material substitute could save 14%-31% of global CO2 emissions and 12%-19% of global fossil fuel consumption. The positives greatly outweigh any negatives.”

“Most of the wood used in mass timber comes from trees that can be sustainably managed through responsible forestry practices,” explained Teske.

Another reason cited for not using mass timber is that it is not as cost effective as its purported to be. According to Ryan Ganey, HKS Structural Engineer who has worked on several mass timber buildings in the states of Washington and Texas, selecting consultants with experience in mass timber construction can help alleviate cost concerns.

“It’s important to work with a contractor who has had some experience in mass timber to recognize the full benefits,” Ganey said. “Some contractors price mass timber higher because they have not had as much experience with it and they want to cover themselves. But as it becomes more popular, contractors better understand the cost of materials and labor and can price more accurately.”

Another possible reason for not using timber is building codes. But in 2019, the International Code Council (ICC) approved a set of proposals that would allow tall wood buildings as part of the 2021 International Building Code (IBC). If design meets these code requirements, buildings can be built up to 18 stories.

But what about fire safety?

In a fire, heavy timber chars on the outside while retaining strength. That slows combustion and allows occupants to evacuate the building. According to David Barber of Arup, in recent fire testing, a seven-inch wall of CLT lasted three hours and six minutes — one hour longer than code requirements.

A few years ago, the only mass timber manufacturers were in Canada or Europe. Today there are about a dozen scattered across the United States making sourcing easier and further reducing the carbon footprint of the material by eliminating importing and shipping. In addition, mass timber can be beautiful and might make a significant difference in the speed of leasing or sales of commercial, mixed-use and residential space.

As of December 2020, 1,060 commercial mass timber projects had been constructed or were in the design phase across the U.S., according to Woodworks — Wood Products Council. Developers, investors and corporations are embracing the idea that mass timber may give them an edge in the leasing or sale of real estate and in recruiting and retaining top talent. We can’t wait to help them achieve their goals.

U.S. Southeast’s Growing Economy Spurs New Design and Development Trends

U.S. Southeast’s Growing Economy Spurs New Design and Development Trends

For the past 50 years, population growth in the Southeastern United States has outpaced the country’s overall growth rate by nearly 40%. The region is now home to more than a quarter of the nation’s residents and a slew of major employers, including dozens of Fortune 500 companies.

Even more people and businesses flocked to the Southeast from Northeast and West Coast cities during the pandemic as Americans looked for temperate, less-dense living environments and were able to work remotely.

“We’re seeing a lot of growth particularly in the Southeast related to peoples’ shifting priorities for what they want out of life and what they want out of work,” said HKS Regional Director Shannon Kraus.

The exploding Southeast population has led to a flourishing regional economy that grew over 10 percent in 2021 alone. HKS is working with clients and communities to understand the impact these shifts are having on the region’s built environment — and expanding our design services for a resilient future.

We’re seeing a lot of growth particularly in the Southeast related to peoples’ shifting priorities for what they want out of life and what they want out of work.

Commercial Real Estate Re-evaluation

In Raleigh and Atlanta, an influx of companies re-locating to or opening regional headquarters has caused a surging need for commercial office space.

Lynn Dunn, Office Director of HKS’s new Raleigh location, said that companies in industries ranging from finance to pharmaceuticals are keen to set up shop in fast-growing North Carolina as employees and corporations “seek the tremendous benefit of quality of life” that can be obtained there.

“It’s fairly inexpensive for corporations to come to this area from an investment standpoint. For years, we’ve had companies consistently moving here from across the country,” Dunn said, noting the top recognition North Carolina recently received in CNBC’s “Top States for Business” survey and Raleigh-Durham area’s repeat inclusion in national “best places to live” reports.

Dunn and HKS Atlanta Office Director Julie Volosin said that building owners, property managers, brokers and developers are collaborating to keep up with evolving desires of employers and employees. Companies moving into their cities are interested in building new high-performance offices as well as repurposing existing spaces.

“Atlanta is a broker-driven market and we’re seeing brokers courting corporations around the country to relocate here. There is also an increased interest among brokers and building owners to reposition buildings with more robust amenities and technology-rich infrastructure,” Volosin said

As organizations determine new policies for employees’ in-office and hybrid working models, they are evaluating real estate changes and how to best utilize the spaces they invest in. HKS is designing corporate workplaces to optimize versatility.

“We really focus on creating the most flexible kind of space that will support their work and business plans. We consider the flexibility within the footprint of the real estate as well as the external ecosystem that surrounds it,” Volosin said, noting that offices located near ancillary spaces for working or conducting meetings, such as parks or coffee shops, are increasingly popular.

Designers and researchers across HKS offices are exploring workplace habits and environmental conditions in “living labs.” Along with improvements in technology and policy shifts, HKS is investing in spaces that will entice employees, clients, and the community to use offices with intention and purpose. 

This year, HKS’ Atlanta office is leading the firm in how workplaces can best accommodate and support a hybrid workforce. The design for the new Atlanta office, located in the Buckhead business district, is the result of a multidisciplinary process that combined research, place performance advisory, and commercial interiors teams. No longer a sea of workstations, the Atlanta office has design havens, idea exchange centers, agile team pods, and a communal hospitality plaza — all of which offer abundant choices for where to work, interact with clients and serve the community.

“We’re in a state of transformational discovery right now. It’s a journey as we continue to learn and leverage a truly hybrid workplace,” Volosin said.

We’re in a state of transformational discovery right now. It’s a journey as we continue to learn and leverage a truly hybrid workplace. 

Changing Job Markets Prompt New Design Needs

Among the Southeast’s most attractive relocation destinations, Florida has a job market in the throes of major transformation due to its growing population.

In Central Florida — which has a historically tourism-driven economy — incoming science, technology and health companies have begun to diversify the job market, according to HKS Orlando Office Director Nathan Butler.

“Our area’s legacy is deeply rooted in the service industry with a transient population that far outweighed the permanent population. Resources have historically supported tourism disproportionately,” Butler said. New emphasis on non-hospitality industries, he added, has created better balance in the local economy and provides exciting opportunities to design new health, commercial and mixed-use developments.

HKS designers in Central Florida are also answering the call to work on public sector projects as local governments invest in building places that support the area’s expanding permanent population. New community venues for sports and the performing arts, transit system facilities and civic buildings are among the types of design projects rising in number, particularly in Orlando, Butler said.

Another of Florida’s major cities, Miami, is also experiencing rapid population growth and a diversifying job market as many people from the Northeast moved there during the pandemic.

“Miami is growing to the point where you can’t build quick enough for the people who are moving here,” HKS Miami Office Director Jonathan Borrell.

Although Miami is a tourist destination like other Florida locales, it has the unique quality of being an international business hub with large financial institutions and deep connections to the global hospitality industry. Borrell said that the inflow of new residents, combined with big business interests, is driving a wave of mixed-use developments.

“There’s a big market here for commercial mixed-use,” Borrell said, adding that the HKS team there is building relationships with local clients who want to provide more connected and vibrant 24/7 destinations throughout Miami.

What “Mixed-Use” Means Moving Forward

HKS leaders from the region said a strong desire for mixed-use properties permeates most cities in the U.S. Southeast. What “mixed use” means, however, is evolving in light of population and economic growth, expanding to include more types of properties than a traditional blend of residential and commercial.

“In middle markets, developers are very interested in multi-modal transportation and mixed-use developments,” Kraus said. “And the mix of uses can be a broad range.”

In Raleigh and the North Carolina Research Triangle, science and technology companies, research organizations and the area’s many higher education institutions are driving demand for life science centers, and innovation-based workplaces and learning environments. Dunn said that design teams there are working with clients to create mixed-use hubs with these — and many other — types of buildings at the heart.

“Creating depth with different uses is what makes a space dynamic and attractive to people. We look at amenities like retail, parks, entertainment and how they connect to the community,” Dunn said.

In middle markets, developers are very interested in multi-modal transportation and mixed-use developments.

As the city grows, Dunn says Raleigh is becoming an attractive destination for conferences and sporting events, which require diverse venues, hotels, dining, and retail located in close proximity.

“We have a great need for hotels that developers and investors are looking into. The city has lost opportunities to host national events due to the lack of hotel rooms to support them,” said Dunn. Building on the success of the firm’s hospitality work in the Southeast on major projects for clients including Four Seasons, Marriott, and the Biltmore, HKS is deepening local relationships to support Raleigh’s goal to accommodate large-scale events.

Integrated Design Approaches for Stronger Outcomes

Regional Director Kraus and all four HKS Office Directors located in the Southeast said the firm is committed to diversifying design service offerings and enhancing the built environment during this period of change — and they’re working together to do so.

“We are one firm and one profit center globally. We work well at leveraging our different sectors and services in all our work, and I think that will continue,” said Volosin. She shared the example that firm-wide strategic advisors, designers and planners are collaborating with non-profit organizations and city agencies for more equitable public environments in the Atlanta metro area.

Borrell and Butler said HKS’ Florida offices are expanding upon the firm’s long legacy of working on health and hospitality projects by sharing the talents of designers from those sectors with local commercial, education and senior living clients.

“The more we find ways to blur lines between practices, the better position we’ll be in to deliver better projects for our clients and have stronger, more collaborative teams across offices,” Butler said.

The more we find ways to blur lines between practices, the better position we’ll be in to deliver better projects for our clients and have stronger, more collaborative teams across offices.

Architects are working with colleges and universities in all parts of the Southeast — including the University of North Carolina, Duke University, and Florida International University — on a wide spectrum of building types including residential, education, sports, life science and health facilities. By distributing talent across practice areas, HKS designers are creating learning, working, and leisure spaces for a rising generation of business, research and medical professionals.

“There are synergies between all these different practice areas. Our individual practice areas are working together to determine the best opportunities and offer a depth of expertise,” Dunn said.

As the Southeast’s economy and population both continue to shift and grow, HKS is seeking to strengthen its partnerships with communities, helping to ensure a bright future through innovation and collaboration.

“We want to be seen as the go-to firm for creative solutions to complex problems, where we can have an impact at the project level, neighborhood level and city level,” Kraus said.

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HKS Announces New Mexico City Leadership Team and Office Move

HKS Announces New Mexico City Leadership Team and Office Move

HKS, a global design company recognized as one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Architecture Firms, today opens the doors to our new location at Insurgentes Sur 1431 PB-2, Insurgentes Mixcoac, in Mexico City. We also want to introduce our new Mexico City leadership team: Juan Carlos Pineda as Office Director, Jorge Bracho Marzal as Studio Practice Leader, and Dan Flower as Senior Designer. Juan Carlos will oversee studio management, with Jorge and Dan leading design.

Left to right, Juan Carlos Pineda, Jorge Bracho Marzal, Dan Flower

Twenty Years in Mexico City 

Since opening our doors in Mexico City in 2002, our local studio has participated in many award-winning projects supported by HKS’ global network of talent. Our new Mexico City office reflects our belief that design excellence should embrace a commitment to ESG, or environmental and sustainable governance and demonstrates our latest thinking in workplace design. 

“Nowadays sustainable design is not an option, but a must,” Jorge Bracho said. “At HKS Mexico, we are committed to designing projects for all our stakeholders – communities, clients, end users and the planet — that excel in form and function, as well as projects that minimize negative environmental impacts and energy consumption.”

At HKS Mexico, we are committed to designing projects for all our stakeholders – communities, clients, end users and the planet.

Expanding our commitment to the city, region, and country 

Entering our twentieth year in Mexico, we will build upon HKS’ reputation for delivering exceptional projects to local, regional, and global clients, with a focus on the hospitality, health, education, commercial and mixed-use markets. “We have a great team here in Mexico,” said Juan Carlos, a Principal at HKS. “We look forward to moving into our new home and working with our current and future clients on exciting new work.”

“Our new leadership team and office in Mexico City reflects our long-standing commitment to Mexico,” said Dan Noble, President and CEO of HKS.  “Juan Carlos, Jorge, and Dan are exceptionally talented and committed to expanding our client and partner relationships. We are already working on many new projects in Mexico and look forward to many more.”

Luis Zapiain and Sergio Saenz, both HKS Principals and Global Directors of the firm’s Hospitality practice, remain closely tied to our Mexico City office and leadership. Our portfolio of resorts in Mexico notably includes Esperanza, an Auberge Resort; Las Ventanas Al Paraiso, a Rosewood Resort; and Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal.

 

Our new leadership team and office in Mexico City reflects our long-standing commitment to Mexico.

HKS ANUNCIA SU NUEVA UBICACIÓN Y EQUIPO DE LIDERAZGO EN LA CIUDAD DE MÉXICO

HKS, la empresa global de diseño reconocida como una de las firmas de arquitectura más innovadoras por Fast Company, abre hoy las puertas de su nueva ubicación en Insurgentes Sur 1431 PB-2, Insurgentes Mixcoac, en la Ciudad de México. También presenta a nuestro nuevo equipo de liderazgo en la Ciudad de México: Juan Carlos Pineda como Director de Oficina, Jorge Bracho como Líder del Estudio de Diseño, y Dan Flower como Director de Diseño. Juan Carlos supervisará la administración del estudio, con Jorge y Dan a cargo del diseño.

Veinte años en la Ciudad de México

Desde que abrimos nuestras puertas en la Ciudad de México en 2002, nuestro estudio ha participado en muchos proyectos galardonados, apoyados por la red global de talento de HKS. Nuestra nueva oficina en la Ciudad de México refleja nuestra creencia de que la excelencia en el diseño debe incluir un compromiso con la gobernanza ambiental y sostenible (ESG, por sus siglas en inglés), y demuestra nuestro pensamiento más actual en el diseño del centro de trabajo. 

“Hoy en día, el diseño sostenible no es una opción, sino un deber”, comentó Jorge Bracho. “En HKS México, estamos comprometidos con el diseño de proyectos para todos nuestros grupos de interés (comunidades, clientes, usuarios finales y el planeta) que sobresalgan en forma y función, así como proyectos que minimicen los impactos ambientales negativos y el consumo de energía”.

Ampliando nuestro compromiso con la ciudad, la región y el país

Al ingresar a nuestro vigésimo año en México, aprovecharemos la reputación de HKS como base para entregar proyectos excepcionales a clientes locales, regionales y globales, con un enfoque en los mercados de turismo y hotelería, salud, educación, comercial y de uso mixto. “Tenemos un gran equipo aquí en México”, comentó Juan Carlos, director de HKS. “Estamos ansiosos por trasladarnos a nuestro nuevo hogar y trabajar con nuestros clientes actuales y futuros en nuevos y emocionantes proyectos”.

“Nuestro nuevo equipo de liderazgo y oficina en la Ciudad de México refleja nuestro compromiso a largo plazo con México”, anunció Dan Noble, Presidente y Director Ejecutivo de HKS.  “Juan Carlos, Jorge y Dan son excepcionalmente talentosos y están comprometidos a expandir nuestras relaciones con clientes y socios. Ya estamos trabajando en numerosos proyectos nuevos en México y esperamos muchos más”.

Luis Zapiain y Sergio Sáenz, ambos Socios y Directores Globales de HKS del sector de Hotelería de la firma, permanecerán estrechamente vinculados a nuestra oficina y liderazgo en la Ciudad de México. Nuestra cartera de resorts en México incluye proyectos emblemáticos como: Esperanza, de Auberge Resort; Las Ventanas Al Paraíso, Rosewood Resort; y Waldorf Astoria en Pedregal Los Cabos.

HKS Expands Experiential Branding Practice Led by Industry Veteran Tony LaPorte

HKS Expands Experiential Branding Practice Led by Industry Veteran Tony LaPorte

Global design leader HKS is expanding the firm’s Experiential Branding practice, led by industry veteran Tony LaPorte.

In a career that has spanned more than 20 years, LaPorte has worked with organizations such as Capital One, Grant Thornton and Kellogg’s to help strengthen their brands.

Experiential Branding uses the built environment to convey a brand’s culture and values.

“Experiential Branding is the intersection of Place and Brand. We’re enabling brands to leverage critical spaces to strategic advantage,” LaPorte said. “This can improve talent recruitment, drive greater sales and elevate employee engagement. It’s all about creating a sense of identity and connection.”  

By layering architectural and interior design elements, organizations can allow the story of their brand to unfold throughout office environments, sales centers, hospitals and universities; this practice can reinforce the brand and improve the experience of workers, guests, patients, students or others who inhabit a space, LaPorte said.

“(Experiential Branding) projects are co-created by architects and interior designers, with the client as a partner throughout the design process,” said Kate Davis, Global Practice Director, Commercial Interiors, HKS. “We’re cultivating a deeper expression of their brand, allowing clients to be more connected to their brand and its value.”

HKS’ Experiential Branding practice can also help place-makers communicate their brands. Real estate developers, restauranteurs and start-up companies are among those who will benefit from brand strategy, brand identity and brand design services.

We’re cultivating a deeper expression of their brand, allowing clients to be more connected to their brand and its value.

HKS’ Experiential Branding service offerings will comprise Environmental Branding, such as experience centers, feature sculptures and wall murals; Branding research and strategy, brand identity, marketing collateral and website design; Signage and Wayfinding interior programs, exterior campus programs and donor walls; and Digital Environments, including interactive experiences and digital content.

Enlarging the HKS Experiential Branding practice augments work initiated by HKS Creative Director of Branding Services, Beau Eaton, for the firm’s Interiors practice. Previous projects include Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital, Baton Rouge; Whole Foods Market South Regional Office, Atlanta; and SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California.

The move to expand the Experiential Branding practice “complements and completes our services,” said Ana Pinto-Alexander, Global Sector Director, Interiors, HKS.

What to Consider When Planning a Speculative Laboratory Conversion

What to Consider When Planning a Speculative Laboratory Conversion

Across the United States, architects are retrofitting existing buildings to meet an increasing demand for life science and technology facilities. Savvy developers are turning towards re-using structures originally designed as offices, warehouses, and even shopping malls, particularly in dense cities and areas where sustainable building policies are gaining traction.

It’s an inspiring time for designer and developer collaborations, ripe with potential for creativity and customization. But while the opportunities abound, there are also many challenges to consider when converting an existing building into highly specialized spaces like laboratories.

With many years of experience working across sectors and locations to proactively plan and execute laboratory conversions for companies, universities, and health organizations, HKS’ life science and technology designers can answer the call to help speculative laboratory developers. These are the key things we help our clients understand as they embark on new projects.

Does the Location Fit the Need?

Before selecting a building for conversion, the first step is to choose the right location. There is a good reason many laboratories and research facilities are located near universities, hospitals and science and technology company offices — proximity creates an opportunity for institutions to share centralized resources, information and talent. Choosing a region where these types of organizations already have roots is a good practice for developers seeking to get into the science and technology space.

Once the general location for a lab is determined, designers can assess existing buildings with keen attention to detail, helping developers evaluate feasibility and risk for lab conversions.

Part of a major re-development project, an innovation lab at the University of Chicago includes dedicated spaces for research in the biosciences, chemistry, physical sciences and computational work.

Is the Site Functional?

The space outside of a building’s footprint is as important as the building itself when determining the right place for a lab. Knowing what type of research and experimentation will occur in a facility greatly helps designers properly consider a building site. We look at whether the site has space to accommodate the flow of deliveries and extraction of waste and if a loading dock for several truck sizes will be necessary. Ideally, loading zones will be located away from the main employee entrance as they can be messy, noisy, and operate at all hours. Another major site-based need is space for emergency back-up generators, bulk tank storage, chillers and other specialized mechanical and storage needs specific to the work being carried out inside the building.

Is the Conversion Cost-effective?

Whether a former office, warehouse or shopping center, a building or group of buildings can be modified as much as necessary to suit lab requirements, but certain structures will require more cost-intensive design measures. Budgets may be significantly impacted if certain design elements are overlooked.

One of the first building specific items we look at is the structural floor-to-floor height. Though requirements will vary depending on the prospective science to be performed, a general rule of thumb we recommend is a 14-16 foot minimum, which allows for larger mechanical duct runs to be constructed above the ceilings. Larger floor-to-floor heights also accommodate larger pieces of equipment more easily and provide greater flexibility for future renovations.

Another building design element to review is column spacing. While we can work within the constraints of many different types of structural and spatial arrangements, it’s important to choose a building that can provide the most efficient, flexible floor plans for laboratories to be programmed. This allows for efficient use of the space by utilizing standard benching depths and appropriate aisle space in between, minimizing waste.

Occupancy surveys with HKS science and technology clients have revealed a common request: flexibility for renovations. With needs and opportunities for lab developments changing as rapidly as they are, clients want to be able to adapt and modify their spaces as quickly and easily as possible and reduce the amount of downtime in their research activities. To make a building work for clients now and into the future, we can design spaces that accommodate features like plug-and-play ceiling mounted panels and mobile benching with casters. 

Can the Structure Support the Science?

Laboratories require robust infrastructure and any building selected for conversion needs to be able to accommodate appropriate power and mechanical systems. To adequately support the flow of water, waste, air and vertical exhaust, a detailed evaluation of capacity will be required.

Chemistry laboratories require heavy HVAC and exhaust systems, and many air handling units and exhaust fans will be located on the roof. If a roof’s structural integrity and load capacities cannot receive those systems, additional structural support will be required, which could drive up costs and expand design and construction timelines. Some jurisdictions also require screening of rooftop equipment, which affects space allocation and weight of additional construction on the roof.

850 Phoenix Bioscience Core (850 PBC) includes open labs and support spaces that are flexible and inviting.

We also examine live loads of every floor of a building. Many sciences require heavy equipment, storage units, refrigeration units and other items that weigh significantly more than systems used in a general office building. Again, structural reinforcement can always be added, but a cost analysis for how much might be required is important and relevant.

Sensitive equipment such as electron microscopes, imaging equipment and incubators can be negatively affected by intense vibrations within or outside a facility. Though it’s difficult to know in advance exactly what equipment might be used in a speculative lab facility, we recommend evaluating floors and reinforcing them with stringent structural vibration criteria in mind, so more potential labs can be accommodated.

Successful Spec Labs Can Benefit Everyone

Our flexible design methodology extends also to buildings that can house single tenant or multi-tenants, depending upon the developer’s preference or prospective clients.

No matter what research and development endeavors are carried out in a converted lab, it’s important to understand that properly investing in site evaluation, its structures and potential future needs will lead to the most positive outcomes.

When developers build relationships with designers and engage them early in their building and site selection process, they have a stronger chance at long-term success for their properties.

If you would like to learn how designers and developers can leverage these insights, please contact Rich Smith or Nancie Constandse.

HKS Expands Its Presence in North Carolina With the Opening of Raleigh Office

HKS Expands Its Presence in North Carolina With the Opening of Raleigh Office

HKS, a global design company recognized as one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Architecture Firms, is expanding in North Carolina with the opening of an office in Raleigh.

A leader among international architecture and design firms, HKS is known for its innovative ability to create and deliver environments of distinction through award-winning architecture, planning, interior design, research and commitment to ESG (environmental, social and governance). Since 1984, HKS has been a part of designing more than 200 North Carolina-based projects including Cone Health, Wake Forest Baptist Health, Duke Health, JW Charlotte, American Tobacco Master Plan, Smoky Hollow and Biltmore in Asheville. 

“We have been active in the Research Triangle for many years,” said Dan Noble, President and CEO of HKS. “Our new office in Raleigh will allow us to expand our offerings to our existing clients, develop new relationships with clients and partners and deepen our commitment to the community.”

“Our new office in Raleigh will allow us to expand our offerings to our existing clients, develop new relationships with clients and partners and deepen our commitment to the community.”

HKS has long been active in the Raleigh area, offering a local portal to a global network of award-winning designers. The new office – the firm’s 26th — will focus on Commercial/Mixed-Use, Life Sciences, Education and Health projects. The Raleigh office will be led by North Carolina native Lynn Dunn, along with an energetic staff of nine.

Dunn attended North Carolina State University and believes that great design begins locally by achieving clients’ visions through a reflection of their brand, mission and purpose. Dunn empowers designers at all levels, cultivating their passions and strengths and collectively connecting with the community for the greatest impact.

“I am excited for the opportunity to open and lead the Raleigh studio for HKS, bringing national and global design perspectives to the region that I call home,” said Dunn, a Principal at HKS. “Building on the tremendous portfolio of work in the Carolinas over the past three decades, HKS will continue to make an impact on businesses and the local community through the creation of high-performance environments that support physical and mental health. The unprecedented and stimulating growth we are seeing in the region needs leadership, innovation and social and cultural consciousness. HKS is the right firm at the right time in North Carolina and offers me the opportunity to further serve my community through thoughtful design and creating a sense of place for all.”

“HKS is the right firm at the right time in North Carolina and offers me the opportunity to further serve my community through thoughtful design and creating a sense of place for all.”

Matthew O’Grady

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