HKS’ Tim Logan Unlocks Exciting Possibilities Through Computational Design

HKS’ Tim Logan Unlocks Exciting Possibilities Through Computational Design

Tim Logan doesn’t have a typical design firm job. He doesn’t spend his days in client meetings, creating drawings, or coordinating with contractors. Instead, he writes code and invents digital processes to bring complex design ideas to fruition.

As a computational designer and application developer with HKS’ Laboratory for INtensive Exploration (LINE) studio, Logan “helps people translate their designs into something the computer can help us make,” he said.

A Texas native, Logan started as an intern in HKS’ Dallas office in 2006 while he was taking architecture classes at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). Firm leaders brought him aboard because he was proficient at a then-emerging software — Revit — which has since become the industry standard building information modelling (BIM) platform.

“He knew the software well enough to already prove himself valuable working at a large firm on high profile projects,” said Heath May, HKS’ Global Practice Director of LINE.

Logan and his wife of 12 years, Cara Johnson, enjoying a horseback ride.

Over the next five years, Logan became a technical guide as the firm navigated using new technologies to advance its design work. In 2012, not long after he and his wife, Cara Johnson, married, they moved to Seattle and Logan took a brief hiatus from HKS.

By that time, Logan had developed a widely adopted computational plugin called Elk, which allows users to input open-source topographical data into Rhino’s Grasshopper programming so they can generate maps to use in design projects. This creation, among other achievements, elevated him to being recognized as “one of the pre-eminent computational designers in the industry,” according to May.

When Logan and Johnson decided to move back home to Dallas in 2014 to be close to their families, May hired Logan into the LINE studio, where he still works today.

As part of LINE —which seeks to elevate modes of architectural production and construction with new technologies — Logan uses programs and creates scripts that automate pieces of the design process. He helps transform complicated two-dimensional concepts into buildable, three-dimensional digital models.

Combining design thinking with computational thinking is at the heart of his day-to-day work.

“My goal is to act as the communicator between my designer colleagues and the computer to make things flow a little easier,” he said.

Logan has been a key player in many of HKS’ biggest innovations of the last decade. As just one example, Logan developed tools and processes that aided the design of SoFi Stadium’s complex roof canopy, as well as the patented methodology HKS used to validate and deliver the nation’s first 3-D Model of Record for that same structure.

“Without Tim, it would have been hard to ask the question if we could deliver the project purely digitally. We could only take that risk because of our trust in Tim and others with similar attributes and skills,” May said, underscoring that Logan’s unique abilities gave him and the HKS team who designed SoFi Stadium the confidence to blaze a previously untrodden trail.

A Longtime Interest in Computers and Design

Logan’s fascination with computers long predates his time at HKS. During the early 1980s, his father worked in electronics engineering, which meant that his family “always had some sort of computer around the house,” Logan said. This was when his parents settled in the Dallas-Fort Worth area after his father’s Marine service required them to move around Texas when Logan and his older sister, Amy, were kids.

As a kid, Logan moved around Texas with his parents and sister, Amy, who is a year older than him.

Household computers were a rarity at the time, and few, if any, resembled modern desktop and laptop computers. The “mini” computers Logan’s and his dad tinkered with were sometimes as big as a closet.

“I started building my own computers from his spare parts way back in the day and have always been around them ever since,” Logan said.

In addition to discovering how computers worked, Logan also used them to play games and engage with early internet bulletin boards, precursors to file sharing services and chatrooms. Gaming and socializing via the internet are a big part of his life to this day — he often gathers with Dallas-area friends for board game nights and spends time virtually hanging with pals who live overseas in online gaming and chat portals.

After high school, Logan pursued coursework in computer science, music recording and philosophy before studying architecture and beginning his career at HKS. He said he was initially drawn to architecture because he enjoys learning how buildings work, how they are created, and the many ways to modify them. Recently, he’s been getting first-hand experience with the latter while updating and renovating the 60-year-old East Dallas house he and Johnson purchased in 2022.

What Logan loves most about architecture, however, is the field’s inherent nature of problem solving and how that aspect of it dovetails with his own work. Just like architects must iterate and come up with various options for a building’s massing, program layout, or details, Logan often must go through trial and error as he codes scripts and connects disparate sources of data to generate digital solutions.

“There are a lot of parallels with the way architecture works and the way computer science works, and the way computer scientists try to systematically solve problems,” he said.

“There are a lot of parallels with the way architecture works and the way computer science works, and the way computer scientists try to systematically solve problems.”

Working Toward Better Outcomes

Logan and fellow LINE studio members collaborate with project teams across HKS’ many practices including Commercial Mixed-Use, Cities & Communities, and Health. May said the LINE team often refers to Logan as the firm’s “secret weapon” because he is driven by curiosity and has an innate ability to frame problems and work through them with patience.

“Through a series of questions, Tim is able to understand what a designer wants to achieve and then translate it,” May said. “He will look at something, appreciate the artistic and conceptual side and then take it into the realm of computation.”

Andrew Cortez, a Senior Designer with HKS’ Health practice first collaborated with Logan on the Texas Health Frisco Hospital, which opened in 2019. One of the team’s design goals, Cortez said, was to create a highly customized façade while adhering to cost and schedule constraints. For the project, Logan developed custom scripts to streamline the design-to-fabrication pipeline of the façade’s precast concrete panels. The scripts maximized panel sizes, concrete form re-use, and created internal documentation processes that enabled smooth, expedient collaboration with fabricators.

Logan developed Rhino and Grasshopper interfaces (top left) to aid the fabrication and construction of the façade of Texas Health Frisco Hospital.

“We were able to achieve goals beyond our original vision that had a substantial impact to the project budget and schedule,” Cortez said. “It taught me the benefit of bringing experts like Tim into the room early to help us develop our design strategy, but also look beyond our perceived limits and goals to achieve something even greater.”

His contribution to the Texas Health Frisco project is one example of how Logan has paid forward his expertise. As architecture technology grows more sophisticated with each passing month, he is helping to introduce new tools and methods to younger designers both within HKS and at UTA’s School of Architecture, where he has joined LINE colleagues to teach studio courses, give lectures, and participate in critiques.

“While he works, he teaches. He helps realize projects, but he’s also helping grow the next generation of people that can use parametric and computational thinking as part of their process,” May said.

Looking Ahead to the Future of Architecture Technology

When he’s not writing code or collaborating with designers, Logan spends time with Johnson, a medical lab technician at Childrens Medical Center in Dallas. Together, the couple sees plays and musicals produced by Broadway Dallas and take their “grumpy, old” corgi, Pippa, for walks around their neighborhood.

Logan’s dog, a charming, but grumpy corgi named Pippa, poses for a photo in Dallas.

Logan’s other hobbies coincide with his knack for experimentation. He has been known to “mash up” 3-D models to create unique geometric forms and 3-D print them. And he once pulled the original engine out of a 1987 Volvo 740 and replaced it with a Ford 302 V8 engine despite having little knowledge of the vehicles.

“Diving into the unknown and reconfiguring a car I barely knew about is kind of how I like to do things,” he said.

The spirit of diving into the unknown is integral to Logan’s work at HKS — he’s always on the leading edge of design technologies, just like when he started at the firm. During the last three years, he’s headed up HKS’ efforts on a U.S. Department of Energy-funded research project with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Lumileds. The interdisciplinary team is seeking to develop new lighting devices with the potential to reduce energy consumption in commercial buildings and positively impact human circadian rhythms and well-being.

Being involved with such research and development projects showcases Logan’s ability to look ahead and see the potential benefits of ideas and technologies in their infancy. As the firm turns more toward exploring the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence in architecture, Logan’s unique qualifications will make him and his skills “indispensable” to the future of practice at HKS, according to May.

And though May says Logan is “one of the smartest people,” he knows, and Cortez called him “one of the most innovative and open-minded individuals” he has worked with — Logan’s personality is grounded in humility. He simply enjoys his work and helping to improve people’s experiences in the places HKS designs.

“What excites me most, fundamentally, is trying to solve big problems,” Logan said. “That’s my main thing — that we’re progressing, not to make things easier, but to make things better.

Raffael Petrovic

Case Studies

Inside SoFi Stadium’s Innovative Design

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Inside SoFi Stadium’s Innovative Design

Unlike any stadium anywhere, SoFi Stadium reflects the finest aspects of life in Southern California with a true indoor-outdoor experience and boundary-pushing design.

“Our mission was to create the best version of an outdoor stadium that we could.” – Lance Evans, RA, HKS Principal

“Our mission was to create the best version of an outdoor stadium that we could.”

Part of the 300-acre Hollywood Park mixed-use development in Inglewood, CA, SoFi Stadium is the NFL’s largest at 3.1 million square feet. Designed by HKS, the stadium combines Southern California’s indoor/outdoor lifestyle with state-of-the-art sports and entertainment architecture.

Open-Air and Below Ground

SoFi Stadium sits directly in the flight path of Los Angeles International Airport, located just three miles away. Designers placed the stadium 100 feet below ground to adhere to strict Federal Aviation Administration height restrictions. It also provides airline passengers with a breathtaking view as they approach landing.

What The Fans See

Open concourses and landscaped canyons draw visitors into the stadium, which has approximately 70,000 fixed seats and can expand to accommodate up to 100,000 guests with removable seating. The stadium’s club spaces, suites and concourse areas that extend as far down as the field provide a diverse array of opportunities for fans to engage with the NFL experience, whether first-time visitor or season-ticket holder.

An open-air design capitalizes on Southern California’s mild climate, allowing visitors to feel as if they are inside and outside at once. The design encourages wind flow, provides relief from direct sun and protection from rain while maintaining connection to the sky and surrounding nature. Whether they’re walking through the wide concourses or catching the action from their seats, people who visit SoFi Stadium enjoy cooling ocean winds that make attending events in the LA heat feel like a breeze.

Infinity Screen by Samsung

The first dual-sided 4K LED display system, the Infinity Screen by Samsung is the largest in sports, suspended above the playing field and visible from every seat. The largest video board in sports, the Samsung Infinity Screen is 70,000 square feet, displays 80 million pixels and weighs 2.2 million pounds.

“I believe SoFi Stadium is the best stadium in the world. Architecturally, it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever been in.”

“I believe SoFi Stadium is the best stadium in the world. Architecturally, it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever been in.” – Lebron James

“There is no comparison. SoFi [Stadium] is above and beyond what anyone could imagine.” – Mike Pugrad, Los Angeles Rams Fan

“For the fans and surrounding area, it’s a source of pride.” – Terry Dulan, Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen, Inglewood, CA

“Not one bad seat, just really well-designed stadium.” – Bee Maeda, Los Angeles Rams Fan

A Structural Marvel

The building’s monumental exterior shell and roof structure has a distinct form reminiscent of Pacific coastal waves that wash ashore just over five miles away. The stadium’s porous canopy is comprised of more than 35,000 anodized aluminum panels, with each panel conforming to the geometry in a way that no two are the same.

HKS’ Laboratory for INtensive Exploration (LINE) developed a custom computational tool that could handle the panels’ complex geometry and generate a massive digital model. The City of Inglewood accepted a stamped and sealed digital Model of Record in lieu of paper drawings, establishing the first instance in the United States of a Model of Record being allowed for permitting an architectural project. This process ensured construction accuracy and helped the project come in under budget and ahead of schedule.

“Delivering a digital model allowed us to achieve exactly what we wanted from a design perspective rather than trying to explain that in two dimensional drawings that would be re-interpreted.” – Heath May, AIA, HKS Principal

“Delivering a digital model allowed us to achieve exactly what we wanted from a design perspective rather than trying to explain that in two dimensional drawings that would be re-interpreted.”

Three Venues Under One Roof

Three interconnected venues — all housed under the massive roof — can host simultaneous events that don’t disrupt one another. A concert at YouTube Theater, a Rams or Chargers game at SoFi Stadium and a watch party at American Airlines Plaza can occur at the same time, making Hollywood Park an integrated entertainment destination.

SoFi Stadium

SoFi Stadium does not have exterior walls. Instead, the long-span cable roof structure anchors to the ground in four locations. The roof, bowl and concourses were sculpted to evoke an outdoor venue while providing the flexibility of a traditional domed stadium.

American Airlines Plaza

The roof canopy covers American Airlines Plaza, a 3-acre multipurpose outdoor event space. Visitors can gather for events free from obstructed views while the ocean breeze circulates to keep them comfortable.

YouTube Theater

YouTube Theater is Hollywood Park’s only fully enclosed indoor space. The theater brings world-class performance design and entertainment technology together in an intimate venue.

Seismic Safety

The entire building is engineered to withstand seismic events. The roof is detached from other components, meaning the stadium bowl, Youtube Theater and American Airlines Plaza can independently move in response to shifts in the Inglewood seismic fault line.

ETFE

Made of single layer ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), the fritted roof is comprised of more than 300 panels. 46 of the 300 panels can be opened to take advantage of prevailing winds without the need for air conditioning. ETFE reduces solar heat gain and allows natural light to flood into the stadium and nearby plaza.

ETFE was also used on HKS-designed U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis

A Bird’s-Eye View

An LED system embedded in the ETFE panels projects video without sacrificing transparency inside the stadium. Live feeds can be seen from the air by passengers traveling in and out of LAX.

“We want the first-time fan that comes to SoFi Stadium to be blown away by what they see, hear, and experience. Hopefully we’ve created something that will become one of the next storied elements of Southern California.” – Lance Evans, RA, HKS Principal

“We want the first-time fan that comes to SoFi Stadium to be blown away by what they see, hear, and experience. Hopefully we’ve created something that will become one of the next storied elements of Southern California.”

A New Community and Entertainment Destination

Within a few hours’ drive of Inglewood, Californians can visit the beach, the mountains, and the densest metropolitan area in the United States. Inspired by the unique local climate and geography, Hollywood Park features climate-adaptive landscape architecture, including a 6-acre lake and network of green spaces.

SoFi Stadium: An Ecosystem Fit for a Super Bowl Ring

With 25 acres of open public space and year-round events, SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park will boost overall tourism revenue for the City of Inglewood and the Los Angeles area. Beyond Super Bowl LVI, events slated for the venue include the College Football Championship Game in 2023, and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Olympic Games in 2028. As the world’s first true indoor/outdoor stadium — where visitors are immersed in the Southern California lifestyle — SoFi Stadium is the ultimate entertainment destination in the greater Los Angeles area.

HKS Design Team:

Mark A. Williams, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C (Principal in Charge), Kevin Taylor, AIA, LEED AP BD+C (Principal Project Manager), Jay Caddell, AIA, LEED AP (Project Manager), Lance Evans, RA (Design Principal), Greg Walston (Lead Project Coordinator), Chad Scheckel, AIA (Senior Construction Administrator), Mike Rogers, AIA (Senior Designer), Anice Stephens, AIA (Senior Project Architect), Bryan Mounger, AIA, LEED AP (Senior Project Architect), Michelle Stevenson, RA, LEED AP BD+C (Senior Project Architect), Niel Prunier, AIA (Senior Project Architect), Morgan Newman, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, RID (Project Architect), Manzer Mirkar, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP (Project Architect), LaKendra Clark (Job Captain), Mark Timm, IIDA, RID (Senior Interior Design Project Manager), Katy Cagle, IIDA, LEED AP (Interior Designer), Amanda Trimble, IIDA, ASID, RID (Interior Designer), James Warton (Senior Computational Designer), Sean Huynh (Construction Administrator), Steve Bayne, AIA (Senior Construction Administrator), Scott Hunter, FAIA, LEED AP (Principal Project Director), Heath May, AIA (Senior Designer)

Rabat Ibn Sina Hospital Wins Institutional Concept 2020 Rethinking the Future Award

Innovation Center Symbolizes Design Excellence for Government Projects

Innovation Center Symbolizes Design Excellence for Government Projects

When HKS Principals Jim Whitaker and Heath May review federal project opportunities, they know that typically most are awarded to the lowest bidder. But the program of requirements for a confidential federal agency project they encountered last year was different: it was for a new campus’ flagship building and came with a stipulated price.

The project’s fixed price inspired a “full-blown design competition” where design-build project delivery teams could push the limits of what was possible within a predetermined budget, Whitaker said.

Looking for an attractive destination to support a growing employee base, the government client outlined parameters for an Innovation Center and CUP2 situated on an emerging 240-acre office campus at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.

The procurement was what the Design Build Institute of America calls Design-Build Done Right, where teams competed based on qualifications and design talent rather than lowest costs. Whitaker believes that the unique procurement style offered “the true best value” for taxpayers, the federal client and competitors.

With award-winning design-build partners at Clark Construction Group, the HKS team developed ideas to exceed the client’s expectations early in the proposal development stage.

“We were able to bring the full force of the architect’s creative horsepower to deliver a solution that wasn’t just a matter of chasing the low number,” Whitaker said.

May, the project’s Lead Design Architect and Director of HKS’ Laboratory for INtensive Exploration (LINE), said the team sought to put forth design solutions that would serve project goals far into the future. Their mission was not to simply meet minimum requirements, but to exceed them and delight the client.

“Our first creative endeavor is interrogating the brief we’re given and that’s what set us up to color outside the lines,” May said, remarking that LINE studio members take a ‘what if’ exploratory approach with every project, including this one.

Designing for Maximized Value and Connectivity

The program of requirements contained detailed requests for multiple structures including a landmark four-story building to house offices, training rooms and shared spaces for employees. In developing their proposal, the design-build team — architects from HKS, a team from prime contractor Clark Construction Group, captive trade contractors, landscape architects and a host of local and national engineers and specialty consultants — analyzed the opportunity and gathered for group discussions.

The conversations yielded thought-provoking alternatives. Rather than submitting a design that adhered to the client’s request for a four-story building, the design-build team daringly proposed a three-story structure instead.

May says that contractors and structural engineers determined that shifting from four stories to three provided significant value. The new approach allowed the architects to maximize the fixed price by pursuing more inventive design solutions with better aesthetic and place-making qualities.

“It’s not a matter of saving money,” May said. “It’s reapportioning investment into something that is potentially a higher and better use.”

“It’s not a matter of saving money,” May said. “It’s reapportioning investment into something that is potentially a higher and better use.”

A Courageous Course of Action

In awarding the project to the HKS and Clark design-build team, the client acknowledged the potential of what Whitaker calls a “courageous course of action” to design and deliver a set of stunning buildings that defied the typical rules of engagement for government contract work. He says that in addition to appreciating the proposal for its technical and legal compliance, the client also respected the bold design moves and “demonstrated their reciprocal courageous behavior” by green-lighting the project award.

Architects from HKS’ Government and Commercial Interior practices along with building scientists, project managers and members of the LINE studio have all contributed to the project, which is now in construction. Whitaker believes that having designers, pre-construction, procurement and operations professionals working concurrently to complete the large project has led to an interesting and beneficial dynamic not common in traditional design-bid-build pursuits.

With a commitment to implementing Design-Build Done Right best practices, the team continues to collaborate with the client, making decisions that create a supportive environment where their employees can do important work and lead healthy, balanced lives.

“The expertise, the different disciplines we have within HKS and our partners enable us to take those steps,” said May.

Whitaker and May equate the team behind the Innovation Center to a group of musicians working together to create something exceptional.

A guitarist and bassist in his spare time, May believes major advancements often happen when musicians — or in this case, design-build teammates — collaborate with trust and creativity. For a federal client that desired facilities capable of supporting its staff’s success, the design team’s communicative, harmonious and open process has been fruitful.

“There’s great reward to be had when everyone is listening to each other in the moment and what comes next is largely dependent upon the conversation we’re having right now,” May said. “Through that conversation — that’s where you reach new horizons.”

SoFi Stadium

Case Study

SoFi Stadium An Unrivaled Sports & Entertainment Destination & Homage to Southern California

Inglewood, California, USA

The Challenge

Los Angeles Rams Owner and Chairman E. Stanley Kroenke is the visionary and driving force responsible for the design, development and financing of SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park, a 298-acre sports and entertainment destination. Designed by HKS Architects, SoFi Stadium is the centerpiece of the live-work-play development, located at the site of the former Hollywood Park Racetrack and Los Angeles Forum.

Kroenke challenged HKS to design an iconic civic gesture and revolutionary stadium destination and experience worthy of Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the world.

The design team was also challenged by Federal Aviation Association (FAA) height regulations due to the stadium’s proximity to LAX just three miles away.

The Design Solution

SoFi Stadium’s architecture is informed by extensive research into Southern California’s industry, architecture, lifestyle, climate, geography, and landscape, combining to create an authentic Southern California expression and experience. The sweeping coastline and the beauty and strength of the Pacific Ocean contribute to the clean and dramatic curves of the stadium’s unmistakable architecture that reflects the region’s indoor-outdoor lifestyle. The stadium’s translucent roof, seating bowl, concourses and landscape were sculpted and designed to create the feel of an outdoor venue while providing the flexibility of a traditional domed stadium.

The FAA’s height restrictions, one of the project’s initial design challenges, became one of the most prominent features within the overall project: the seating bowl sits 100-feet below the existing grade – about two to three times the depth of other similar multiuse venues. To create a memorable procession experience for patrons navigating their way down to their seats and concourses, HKS demurred from the typical series of elevators, escalators, stairs and ramps, and created an indoor/outdoor meandering series of paths that guide fans through visually rich landscaped environments replete with amenities along the way.

The open-air SoFi Stadium is the first indoor-outdoor stadium to be constructed and the NFL’s largest at 3.1 million square feet (288,500 square meters). Situated under one monumental roof canopy, three state-of-the-art venues – the 70,000-seat SoFi Stadium, the 2.5-acre covered outdoor American Airlines Plaza and a 6,000-seat performance venue – can simultaneously host different events.

The stadium’s single layer ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) roof provides a guarantee, rain or shine, for the multitude of events hosted by SoFi, all while maintaining connectivity to the outdoors and flooding the venue with natural light. The ETFE film features a 65% frit pattern that shelters guests from direct sun and reduces solar gain into the venue. The roof also features a series of operable panels distributed around the perimeter of the ETFE that can open and close, depending on the climatic conditions to promote airflow in the stadium and a comfortable environment for fans.

The Design Impact

When conceptualizing an unparalleled experience in a thriving metropolis like Los Angeles, HKS considered its impact on the region, well beyond sports and entertainment events. Local residents and visitors alike enrich L.A., one of the world’s most diverse cities, representing myriad and colorful heritages and cultures steeped in art, food, entertainment and social experiences. SoFi Stadium pays homage to Los Angeles in every sense.

With more than 12 different club spaces and 7 suite experiences, SoFi Stadium’s diverse spaces were designed to cater to a variety of user preferences. Guests can enjoy a cocktail with panoramic views of downtown or hang out in an immersive football experience right behind the players – it’s the closest any fan can get to the action in an NFL venue.

Just like SoFi’s architecture, you can’t turn a corner in the venue without discovering something new and exciting, yet in a familiar and quintessentially relaxed Southern California environment.

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Rabat Ibn Sina Hospital

Case Study

Rabat Ibn Sina Hospital From a Seed to a Hospital

Rabat, Morocco

The Challenge

To develop the largest hospital in Morocco that would deliver high-quality patient care in a safe environment and a therapeutic setting. The efficient layout would be bolstered by advanced technology.

The Design Solution

To bring this project to life, HKS architects proposed the concept of a seed planted that then slowly rises from the ground into the sky. As it rises it gains strength and functionality, becoming a landmark in the city. This idea was the basis for the design of this building. By uniting three existing separate hospitals into one building, it becomes a symbol for unity and strength.

The facility consists of a variety of different components, each of them one part of a larger holistic health care environment. The design treats them as equals and joins them under one roof, allowing opportunities for synergy and collaboration for the staff as well as convenience in access to health care for the patient.

At the center of the facility is a large public atrium with a great landscaped park, from which all programmatic components radiate out. The park reaches back into the surrounding area, linking the facility to its neighborhood and Ibn Sina University. The atrium serves as the fundamental organizational element for the building and simplifies wayfinding. It connects the building to the city. One side of the atrium is dedicated to ambulatory outpatient functions, while the other becomes the large diagnostic and treatment block. The sparkling patient tower is situated above it.

The Heart Center becomes part of the building and is located within the large diagnostic and treatment block, allowing synergies and efficiency by leveraging the modalities and services of the block. The Heart Center is recognized as a model of excellence with its own identity, which is established in the design by giving it its own dedicated drop-off, entrance, and vertical circulation system.

The education center enjoys a similar status. Becoming an integral part of the building emphasizes the importance of scientific excellence within the health care system. Its location will allow all functions of a true academic medical center – diagnose, treat, teach and research – to occur seamlessly within the same building.

The Design Impact

Rabat Ibn Sina Hospital is positioned to be the largest general hospital in Morroco at 139,640 square meters (1.50 million square feet) and was delivered with a forward-thinking design that incorporates state-of-the-art technology and energy conservation.

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Jon Bailey

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Timothy Logan

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Case Studies

How HKS LINE Designed an Innovative Park Pavilion in Dallas That Honors Historic Railway

How HKS LINE Designed an Innovative Park Pavilion in Dallas That Honors Historic Railway

A century ago, soot-covered trains that had once barreled through downtown Dallas were rerouted around the central business district, leaving behind the railroad tracks along dusty Pacific Avenue. The city stripped away the unused tracks a few years later as pedestrians, cyclists and motorists jostled for space on the busy street that the Texas & Pacific Railway once ruled.

Most of the brick storefronts that lined the avenue in the early 20th century have disappeared, replaced by gleaming skyscrapers. But HKS is giving the bygone railroad another moment in the sun.

The firm, which itself turns 80-years-old this year, channeled this chapter of Dallas history into the design for the elliptical pavilion that anchors the long-awaited Pacific Plaza park that debuts this month on what used to be a parking lot next to the HKS headquarters. The pavilion canopy pays homage to the days when telegraphers stationed in railway depots used American Morse Code to send messages to train crews and dispatchers. Its metallic cladding dapples the sunlight with perforations that spell out in American Morse Code the names of every stop along the Texas & Pacific Railway that snaked from El Paso to New Orleans.

Standing where St. Paul Street meets Pacific Avenue, the pavilion acts as a front porch to the 3.4-acre park, its ringed canopy reaching out toward the main entrance steps. The canopy frames an oval-shaped knoll, creating a captivating visual effect that makes the mound look as if it’s being pinched through a hole.

“In order to get where we’re going as a city, we have to have an appreciation of where we’ve been,” said Kourtny Garrett, president of Downtown Dallas Inc., an economic development group in charge of cleaning and providing programming for Pacific Plaza. “HKS’ thoughtful commitment to incorporating something so detailed like the American Morse Code used to navigate the trains coming through town on the pavilion at Pacific Plaza is a perfect example of their attention to detail and true appreciation for and excitement about a signature park that’s literally in their own backyard.”

The park was built through a public-private partnership between the city of Dallas and the nonprofit Parks for Downtown Dallas, which paid for design and construction. Parks for Downtown Dallas hired SWA Group to design the park, and the landscape architecture firm approached HKS’ LINE studio to create the pavilion. LINE, an acronym for Laboratory for INtensive Exploration, uses computer programming, digital modeling and emerging technologies to enhance architectural design and its role in the fabrication of materials.

SWA asked designers to create a structure that offered shade from the scorching Texas sun and that allowed pedestrians to see through the park. LINE also recognized that the pavilion should be appealing not only to pedestrians but to the people who live and work in the buildings circling the park.  

The pavilion has the shape of a simple ellipse, but it features hundreds of V-shaped fins that support trapezoidal steel panels punched with hundreds of holes each — a complex puzzle that required LINE to solve a series of challenges. The studio used parametric design — an advanced computer modeling method driven by mathematical relationships among design elements — and leaned on lessons from other HKS projects, including its work designing the skin of the $5 billion SoFi Stadium that will be the new home of the Los Angeles Chargers and Rams. 

Going a New Route

LINE investigated different concepts for the pavilion, settling on a saddle shape that hovers over the landscape, supported by 11 cruciform columns. Designers tapered the columns to maximize views of the park.

To make the design interactive, the HKS team played with perforations that would animate the pavilion by creating dynamic shade patterns throughout the day. LINE experimented with metallic skin perforations in the award-winning design of Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU and on the canopy shell of SoFi stadium. At the hospital, the enclosure of the parking deck was perforated to create the effect of sunlight filtering through foliage. The holes punched through the triangular panels that shape the roof of SoFi Stadium also form an image.

But with the Pacific Plaza pavilion, LINE went in another direction. HKS designers Jon Bailey and Tim Logan drew inspiration from Pacific Avenue, the namesake of the park. They learned about the street’s origins as a railroad route and found a map that detailed the stops along Texas & Pacific Railway, which operated from 1871 to 1976.

With this information, the LINE team worked through several iterations to convert American Morse Code — a series of dots, dashes and gaps — into a dot pattern that could be translated to the metal panels with a standard-size punch-die set. This bypassed the need for custom tools that would have increased the project cost. LINE partnered with Zahner, an engineering and fabrication company that is also working with HKS on SoFi Stadium.

“The Morse Code is offering another level of interaction with the people,” Bailey said. “There will be some people who might try to decode what the message is.”

Pragmatic considerations that arose during stadium projects also informed LINE’s thinking, such as making the holes small enough to prevent people from climbing the structure and birds from building nests. The gradient design starts out solid at the base of the pavilion cladding and becomes more porous at the top.

LINE conducted studies to figure out how to best way to map the code onto each panel and the pavilion canopy as a whole. For example, the team tested a method that arranged the lines of code in a spiral pattern around the canopy, but the designers discovered that pattern created repeating arcs on each panel. These studies enabled LINE to identify and avoid undesirable visual effects before the panel fabrication.

From Start to Finish

The HKS team used parametric modeling to tie the pavilion design to the shape of the knoll that is a key feature of the park landscape. HKS’ pavilion model updated instantly any time that SWA changed the dimensions of its knoll, saving designers from having to manually adjust all the elements that form the curves of the pavilion.

The panels for the canopy come from a large stainless-steel coil, meaning the width of the coil defined the maximum width of a panel. LINE built this dimension into its parametric model to preserve it in subsequent updates.

“Parametric modeling is one way that allows us to build more complex things with more intelligence built into the model so we can retain that to the end,” Bailey said.

LINE evaluated different metal finishes on panel mockups to select one that would reduce glare. The designers translated their pavilion model into 2D line drawings of each panel that were sent to Zahner, which fed them into a computer script that told a machine how to perforate the panels.

“On a lot of projects, you often have big ideas at the beginning but either because of technical limitations or budget or a number of reasons, at some point the design gets compromised and those things don’t come through in the end,” Bailey said. “That’s why a group like ours exists.”

HKS is deeply invested in the park, making a donation to help build it. Pacific Plaza is part of a pedestrian corridor on Harwood Street, running from Klyde Warren Park to Main Street Garden to the Dallas Farmers Market.

“It’s going to be a hell of an asset,” HKS CEO Dan Noble said, celebrating the plot’s transformation from pavement to park.

In addition to HKS’ pavilion, the SWA-designed Pacific Plaza will feature a 1-acre central lawn, a limestone seat wall known as “The Thread” that traverses the park, a tree-lined promenade, an oak grove, seating and bike racks, and “dog intercepts” — stations of decomposed granite with irrigation. 

“Quality green space is part of the transformation of Dallas,” said Chuck McDaniel, managing principal of SWA Dallas. “As part of a chain of parks throughout downtown Dallas, Pacific Plaza enhances the quality of people’s lives by being both a visual enhancement to the dense urban fabric and, most importantly, by helping to mitigate the effects of the urban heat island.”

Harnessing Daylight

Harnessing Daylight

Our client, Novartis Pharmaceuticals/Alcon Laboratories, requested an employee café in Fort Worth with dining areas wrapping the perimeter of building and visible behind a transparent façade. With this approach, diners could enjoy the view from the café out into the landscape of the central campus quadrangle and researchers in the surrounding buildings would have an inviting view inside.

Shared spaces are vital for science facilities because research is becoming more interdisciplinary — a specialist in one lab could have the solution to a problem that scientists are grappling with in another. Breakthroughs can happen when they have a place to meet and discuss their work, formally or informally.

“A centralized dining facility for scientists is not just a cafe,” says Heath May, the director of HKS Inc.’s Laboratory for INtensive Exploration, or LINE. “It’s a place to hold small team meetings or full staff gatherings and to encourage chance meetings between scientists.”   

But while a transparent building might make the facility inviting from every angle, glass walls pose challenges to managing the thermal and visual effects of sunlight. Accounting for daily and seasonal changes in sunlight exposure, the solar performance of each façade orientation is expressed honestly in plan, section and elevation with strategies developed to respond to multiple design criteria.

At HKS, May and other forward-thinking researchers are pushing to fine-tune solar management with projects like the HKS-designed Novartis campus facility. It’s just one of many HKS projects using 21st century technology to solve an age-old problem — how to maximize the sun’s benefits while balancing downsides — and look good while doing it.

Solar Simulation

Simulations enable designers to use real-world physics to view possible outcomes before construction begins. Such tools are not new, gaining widespread use 20 years ago. Modern computing power has enabled more robust simulation of larger and more complex projects. The Novartis campus facility features two computer-assisted elements, one on each side of the building, to manage the sunlight. The south side of the building has a protruding shade, angled upward that has been precisely shaped to block just enough sunlight at specific times of the day.

“It’s a very pragmatic projecting element,” says May. “It also delineates outdoor transition space and provides a visual welcome.”

The north side takes a totally different approach. The north side’s glass face is affixed with vertical blades of laminated glass that extend 12 inches outward. The projecting elements are dimensioned and spaced to provide shade and reduce glare while preserving the view in and out of the building, a level of detail early simulations can provide.

“Large scale daylight simulations . . . are currently impossible with the use of conventional software and computers,” HKS architects Mili Kyropoulou and Paul Ferrer concluded in a paper they co-wrote in 2018. Such limitations require that large projects somehow break up the simulation into smaller sections of the building, a method that doesn’t produce results with the same speed or accuracy.

“Large scale daylight simulations . . . are currently impossible with the use of conventional software and computers,”

HKS’ work on the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) extension is an example of the power and limits of current simulations, and Kyropoulou and Ferrer used it to show why these new ones are needed.

The 300,000-square-foot space at SFO is too large for existing modeling programs like Daysim. For example, one vital measurement is called the daylight coefficient (DC) and current modeling programs generate this from a few hundred illuminance sensors. At SFO, there are 109,000 such sensors.

“Even where the hardware resources exist, it is currently impractical to perform such simulations on Windows‐based systems,” the HKS architects determined.

The scale of the airport terminal was simply too large to simulate using current tools, and the layout of the flowing, open space lacked repetitive smaller rooms, so the simulations could not be easily divided into smaller discrete sections.

“Unlike other large-scale projects, every space in this area is unique as far as its design parameters are concerned,” write Kyropoulou and Ferrer. “No floor area can be described as repetitive or with semi-similar daylight performance related design factors.”

Going Forward

The future will belong to new simulations that can take even more nuanced predictions on how sunlight will affect the building, and the pair of HKS architects examined options. Their approach brought cloud-based computing to the problem. They used custom-written software scripts to run the simulation as one big package on a Linux operating system. Those algorithms handle the vast amounts of memory the calculations required.

Those are just more examples of how we at HKS will continue to push the envelope on solar management projects such as Novartis and SFO to help make for a better world.

HKS CTO Cory Brugger on Helping Architecture Embrace Technology

Building With Data: How HKS’ LINE Innovation Team Drives Change Using Algorithms, Creativity, Nature

Pacific Plaza Pavilion

Case Study

Pacific Plaza Pavilion Transforming an Eyesore into an Urban Oasis

Dallas, Texas, USA

The Challenge

Designing within a dense urban area poses unique challenges, and the pavilion within the city of Dallas’ downtown Pacific Plaza was no exception. The location is surrounded by tall buildings, requiring that the pavilion look appealing from a bird’s eye view as well as at pedestrian level. In addition, any construction had to avoid interfering with the sightline through the park, an important element when enticing passersby on all sides to enter.

The Design Solution

HKS designed the Pavilion to connect with itself and its elliptical shape is appealing from a skyscraper window. The Pavilion itself sits approximately 15 feet above the ground and is supported by 11 columns. These cruciform columns are angled to appear as thin as possible, preserving the sightlines through the park.

The Design Impact

Like many cities, Dallas is eager to re-create its downtown district to appeal to residents and workers. The Pavilion is part of an ongoing initiative to develop more parks in downtown Dallas and serves as a key element in the city’s “green link” of parks that will run through and connect several disparate Dallas neighborhoods.

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Alcon Novartis Dining Facility

Case Study

Alcon Novartis Dining Facility New Alcon Dining Facility Helps Fuel Collaboration

Fort Worth, Texas, USA

The Challenge

A typical dining facility backs the kitchen area to one side of the building, but Novartis asked for a centralized kitchen with dining areas that wrap around it. That way diners can enjoy the view through the glass walls from every angle and employees in the surrounding buildings have a view inside. The transparent building makes the centrally-located facility appealing from all angles, but glass walls pose challenges to managing the thermal and visual effects of sunlight.

The Design Solution

HKS’ design enables 270 degrees of dining areas on the perimeter of the building’s interior and includes various seating layouts to promote meetings of all sizes. The centralized kitchen is separated from infrastructure used by other elements, like bathrooms, to stretch the dining area.

Managing the sun’s effect couldn’t be done the same way on all sides of the building. The south side of the building has a protruding shade, angled upward, that has been precisely shaped to block just enough sunlight at specific times of the day. The north side’s glass face is affixed with vertical blades of laminated glass that are carefully spaced to provide shade while preserving the view in and out of the building.

The Design Impact

Nearly 500 researchers who study various aspects of medical technologies now have a place to congregate. These shared spaces are vital for science facilities because research is becoming more interdisciplinary — a specialist in one lab could have the solution to a problem that scientists are grappling with in another.

The 21,000 square foot space amplifies collaboration opportunities between the administration and research areas of the private campus, promoting spontaneous conversation between scientists, technicians and researchers.

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Chad Porter

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Heath May

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Fresh Renderings and a 360-Degree Tour of the Hollywood Park Development