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

Case Study

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

United States

The Challenge

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

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

The Design Solution

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

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

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

The Design Impact

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

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

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

Project Features


Case Study

CoreLogic Navigating CRE Investments in Post-COVID Times

United States (Multiple Sites)

The Challenge

To realign its North American commercial real estate portfolio with its evolving suite of services and the work patterns of its staff employs to deliver them, CoreLogic tapped HKS to assess its employees’ new ways of working to align itself with the post-Covid needs of its customers. The study included more than a dozen office locations totaling nearly 800,000 square feet of leased space for more than 3,500 employees. Insights and recommendations are helping CoreLogic make targeted investments in its offices that elevate the everyday experience and amplify the signature “Moments That Matter” for its Brand.

The Design Solution

A diagnostic look at the work patterns and preferences of its employees included: current-state assessment of space utilization, senior leadership alignment workshops, as well as a deep ‘How You Work’ engagement with every employee. This multipronged approach captured a holistic perspective of actual work patterns in the current context and identified attributes of an ideal future-state. Insights around the uniqueness of CoreLogic’s deep expertise and analytic nature enabled HKS to advise on both portfolio-level and location-specific recommendations for real estate and design interventions.

An overall impact framework identified office design concepts tailored to CoreLogic’s current needs and improvement opportunities. Design concepts range from foundational expressions of Brand, while others pilot innovative work environments borrowed across industries, such as the gaming arenas, brain-break salons, and rapid-ops collaboration. HKS recommendations support unique team workflows, prioritized in-office experiences, and maintaining CoreLogic’s strongly aligned culture of excellence as measured in expertise, responsiveness, and accuracy.

The Design Impact

At the time of publishing, CoreLogic is actively implementing both foundational and pilot interventions at multiple locations. Each location has been analyzed for primary work group needs and office priorities based on unique work team strengths by geography. They are expected to open or re-open these offices in 2023. With the study in hand, CoreLogic can critically evaluate existing offices and proposed real estate acquisitions leveraging facility data to maintain their workspace effectiveness affordably and consistently over time.

In order to balance financial investment with project priorities and existing resources, CoreLogic considers each site location’s space typologies and office design relative to cost and impact.

HKS identified different space types based on CoreLogic’s unique organizational culture and work patterns to optimize the office experience bespoke to each geographic location, departmental representation, and local employee feedback.

Project Features

“CoreLogic came to realize we needed to make our workplaces where our team members wanted to come to, not had to come to. That’s a very important distinction. HKS is key enabler in helping us refine our design language to a place where we could turn that priority into reality. With the tools they have armed us with, we stand a chance at attracting team members to be together, rather than other, more prescriptive approaches. Being the employer of choice is about being where our team wants to be.”

Ryan T. Martin,
Sr Leader, Real Estate & Facilities Management

Seven Considerations for Health Care Design in the Middle East 

Seven Considerations for Health Care Design in the Middle East 

The Middle East is steeped in rich heritage and cultural subtleties, so designing the region’s next generation of health care facilities requires a nuanced approach. Each year, the Global Health Exhibition in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, brings health care professionals together to connect and drive health care innovation in the region. Please visit global design firm HKS at our booth at Riyadh Front Exhibition and Conference Center from Oct. 29 to Oct. 31, 2023, as we reflect on the various ways HKS addresses key Middle Eastern cultural and environmental characteristics through our award-winning health care designs. 

Responding to the Climate with Vernacular Architecture 

With temperatures hovering at 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in the shade for more than half the year, a building’s orientation is one of our first considerations when planning new structures. The site location of Kuwait Children’s Hospital required the HKS team to design patient windows to face east and west. Solar studies were performed to create sophisticated shading systems on both sides of the building to not only reduce solar gain but also reduce glare and enhance comfort within patient rooms. Catwalks on every other floor allow easy cleaning of the windows and shading systems after humid dust storms characteristic of the region. Canopies over outdoor respite areas are necessary for a large portion of the year, and HVAC systems need to be powerful, durable and efficient to minimize energy consumption. 

Water is a Precious Commodity in the Desert 

Because much of the region relies on desalination plants to provide water, irrigation is strictly regulated. Through the use of regional plant life such as Ghaf trees, we provide xeriscaping to minimize water usage. On-site water recycling plants efficiently irrigate green spaces. 

During transportation, water is warmed by intense heat and must be cooled before use. Brutal sunlight means that roof storage isn’t an option for cooling. Some jurisdictions, such as Kuwait, require water be stored in subterranean tanks or cooling towers before it is distributed. Pumps are then required to move water to its destination. Further, the use of large water features is discouraged due to the high evaporation ratio year-round. 

Designing for Cultural Subtleties and Privacy 

The Middle East can appear to be one large desert to some, but each country has specific cultural interests. Some countries are more conservative than others, and thus, understanding how varying cultural and religious customs can affect traffic patterns throughout a hospital is important. For example, some hospitals may include separate waiting rooms for men and women or an emergency room with an entrance split in different directions for men and women. Prayer rooms for men and women, and sometimes even mosques, are incorporated into convenient locations of our designs. 

Some clients prefer traditional architecture to help patients feel comfortable, especially as health care can be a sensitive topic in the Middle East — many patients prefer not to share details about their health. Health care facilities such as Prince Sattam University Hospital in Al Kharj, Saudi Arabia, are in conservative agricultural areas outside of urban centers. Sensitivity to the local community is important, so the team focused on developing a design that utilizes local stone for the exterior facades. To reduce the sense of anxiety while providing familiarity to the agriculture community, the project was organized around a wadi, or valley, including natural elements that blend into the lobby. The National Rehabilitation Clinic (NRC) in Abu Dhabi also employs vernacular architecture to ease anxiety.

Planning for Large Families

Families tend to be larger in the Middle East than in western countries, and rather than one or two visitors, a patient might receive six or eight at a time. Patient rooms are designed with patient, caregiver and family zones, and public areas are designed to accommodate multiple families. 

Incorporating amenities in public spaces is a priority. Kuwait Children’s Hospital’s five-story atrium stretches nearly 1,500 feet and includes a hollow whale where movies are played, cafes, and other elements that blend health care, hospitality, and retail. We developed outdoor courtyards for Prince Sattam University and the NRC to allow families, or even patients, to walk away and take a break from the hospital. 


Rising energy costs and a harsh climate mean that sustainability is being pushed to the forefront of the region’s unique challenges. Dubai, for example, requires a sustainability checklist when submitting building permits, and other countries require a minimum of LEED-Silver equivalent design for government hospital projects. Our exterior design for Prince Sattam resulted in a 30% reduction of energy. Designers must continue to encourage clients and peers to support energy efficient initiatives. 

Rapid Growth 

The Middle East has a large middle-income class with growing expectations, and HKS is creating the next generation of health care facilities to meet the region’s needs. Dubai and some other cities have almost quadrupled in size over the last 20 years, and health care investment is struggling to keep pace. 

Private providers are beginning to invest in new facilities. Hospitals such as Danat Al Emarat, a private maternity hospital, are successful examples of an efficient and financially responsible project meeting the needs of Abu Dhabi. HKS has been involved with several teaching hospital campuses, including CapitalMED Medical City in Egypt and Prince Sattam University Hospital, in the ongoing challenge to meet the region’s demand for experienced physicians.  

The Allure of the Unseen: Top Travel Trends

The Allure of the Unseen: Top Travel Trends

Travel and tourism have witnessed a seismic shift in the past few years, with trends leaning more towards sustainable and conscious discovery. This surge in awareness about the environmental and socio-cultural impact of tourism has led to the rise of myriad innovative travel trends. While it would be impossible to spotlight all of them, we’ve distilled some of the most intriguing ones to us from redefining the concept of sustainability to unraveling our ancestry through our genes.

Let’s take a journey into the future of travel.

Regenerative Tourism: Restoring the World as We Roam

Moving a step beyond sustainable travel, regenerative tourism aims at restoring destinations rather than merely slowing down their degradation. It’s a collective responsibility between the traveler and the host destination, striving for active preservation of the environment. Imagine participating in ocean clean-up activities or helping in reforestation efforts as part of your holiday.

Global Family Travels’ ventures in Oregon have travelers actively aiding wildfire recovery in the Willamette National Forest, while in Guyana, indigenous-led eco-tourism at Rewa Village directly conserves a vast rainforest, turning each traveler’s carbon footprint into a net positive for the environment. As we strive to align our travel choices with our values, images of travelers taking part in in local clean-up drives, supporting local businesses, and contributing to the welfare of the travel industry workers underline this transition.

Indigenous Tourism: Reviving Traditions and Cultures

Indigenous tourism, with travel tours operated or controlled by First Nations, Métis, or Inuit peoples, presents a unique opportunity to experience and learn from the rich indigenous heritage. From Kenya and Tanzania to Ecuador and Australia, it’s the essence of the attractions.

This trend serves as a catalyst for cultural revival, intercultural awareness, and economic growth. It’s not just about providing guests with a deeper understanding of a different culture; it also promotes environmental stewardship and supports the local economy.

DNA Travel: Embarking on a Voyage to Your Roots

In the era of DNA ancestry services, a new trend has emerged – DNA Travel. It involves crafting a personalized travel itinerary based on your DNA ancestry results. This trend enables travelers to trace their roots, potentially meet distant relatives, and experience a sense of belonging that transcends borders.

Companies like 23andMe have made it easier for travelers to embark on these heritage discovery journeys. For instance, the award-winning “Go Back to Africa” campaign by Black and Abroad highlights the potent influence of DNA travel.

Set-Jetting: Live Your Screen Dreams

As travelers seek novel experiences, “Set-Jetting” – visiting the shooting locations of favorite movies or TV series – is making waves. Be it the enchanting landscapes of Sicily from an HBO thriller or the majestic views of New Zealand from ‘Lord of the Rings’, these locations have seen a surge in visitor numbers.

These cinematic destinations offer travelers the chance to experience their favorite screen moments in real life, often leading to unexpected discoveries and adventures.

Alpha, Beta, Gamma: New Coordinates of Adventure

According to a study by Booking.com, 30% of global travelers aspire to explore lesser-known cities. Alpha destinations are popular tourist spots, such as the Great Barrier Reef. Beta destinations, like Bhutan, offer an authentic cultural experience, while Gamma destinations are often off-the-beaten-path locations like Gabon that offer unique rewards for adventurous travelers.

This trend, driven by the desire for unique experiences and the ease of sharing travel stories on social media, encourages travelers to step off the trodden path and experience the world in fresh, exciting ways.

Type 2 Fun: Seeking the Extraordinary

Adventure tourism is witnessing an unprecedented boom, with millions across the globe seeking out-of-the-ordinary experiences. Be it sand surfing in Sahara or hot air ballooning over the surreal landscapes of Cappadocia, these experiences are defined by their thrill factor and the unforgettable memories they create.

Adventure travelers are predominantly motivated by the pursuit of unique experiences and the desire to travel off the beaten path. This adrenaline-fueled facet of travel holds immense potential for growth as more travelers look for novel, immersive experiences.

In this transformative phase of travel, we’re not just venturing towards new geographical coordinates but also embracing a profound shift in our perceptions, turning travel into a tool for personal growth, environmental preservation, cultural exchange, and self-discovery.

Unleashing Gastronomy: Food Tourism Reimagined

Food has always been an integral part of travel, but the ‘Gastro Memories’ trend is revolutionizing how we perceive culinary experiences. It’s not merely about fine dining or sampling local delicacies anymore. This trend emphasizes the creation and preservation of memorable food experiences. People now yearn to participate in cooking classes, food festivals, and even farm-to-table experiences to deepen their understanding and connection with the food they consume. Imagine handpicking fresh produce from a lush Italian vineyard and then being guided by a local chef to turn them into a sumptuous meal. These are the kinds of memories this trend is all about.

Whether you’re journeying to savor global cuisines, delve into ancestral roots, or quench your thirst for adventure, countless transformative travel experiences await. Staying abreast of the evolving trends that are shaping the profile of the market ensures that our designs are relevant and that HKS is able to lead with knowledge. 

Christine Marquis


Case Studies

HKS Opens First Pacific Northwest Office in Seattle

HKS Opens First Pacific Northwest Office in Seattle

HKS, a global design firm, announces the opening of a new office in Seattle, expanding HKS’ network of 27 global locations. 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) in design.

The Seattle office will be the firm’s first in the Pacific Northwest, but HKS has delivered projects in the market since 1994, including work for Seattle Children’s Hospital.

“HKS has long considered the Pacific Northwest as a strategic location for its global enterprise,” said Dan Noble, President and Chief Executive Officer of HKS. “Now is a great time to plant a flag in Seattle. The right opportunity presented itself and we simply couldn’t pass it up. We’re bringing on a talented team with an outstanding reputation and great relationships in the Northwest and beyond.”

A multi-talented team of architects, designers and strategists, all with strong local ties and experience, will lead the Seattle office.

“We have deep connections with this leadership team and look forward to bringing their innovative thinking into the fold,” Noble added. “This team will significantly expand our offering in planning, advisory, workplace strategy and design capability.”

Doug Demers will serve as the HKS Seattle office director. Demers was previously the managing principal at Perkins + Will, studio director at Callison and managing partner at Colliers International in Seattle. A business strategist, real estate professional and architect, Doug has experience in education, hospitality and workplace, as well as development planning and portfolio optimization. Demers began his career at HKS headquarters in Dallas during the early 1980s, so his return to the firm is a homecoming of sorts.

Christa Jansen, Principal, Interiors; and Joslyn Balzarini, Principal, Interiors; will be among those joining Demers in the HKS Seattle office. Jansen and Balzarini have more than 40 years combined of interior design experience in the Seattle area, and the two will lead the expansion of the new office’s interior practice even further into the Pacific Northwest.

“Our focus in Seattle will be growing the practice, collaborating to leverage our local presence with HKS’ robust sector platform and continuing to excel in the non-traditional practice areas that allow us to serve clients as trusted counsel,” Demers said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun to explore how to collaborate and deliver new kinds of projects in the Pacific Northwest.”

The new HKS office will be located in Seattle’s Central Business District, where the core team will continue working on a major hotel renovation in Bellevue, Washington, and a life science building in Seattle.

HKS Atlanta

Case Study

HKS Atlanta Connecting Real Estate to Business Strategy

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

The Challenge

As a design firm with a thriving commercial interiors practice, HKS wanted our Atlanta office to reflect our point of view on the future of work. To that end, we designed to put people first, focusing on how and where our teams want to work, and supporting their health and well-being through design. To attract more diverse employees, we prioritized inclusive design. Finally, we sought to reduce expenses by right-sizing the office for a modern, hybrid workforce.

The Design Solution

Our design team began by asking our Atlanta team questions such as: what future do we want to realize? What legacy do we want to leave through design?  Our employees indicated that what they most needed from in-person time was space to focus, to co-create, to learn from our own design and to cultivate a culture of learning.  

To design spaces we would use more, we analyzed workplace data and devoted a greater amount of space to seating for teams and collaboration, less to private workstations. Our new workplace features an “idea theater” near the entrance, for events and learning; a “rapid ops rooms war room” for teams on deadline; and a variety of lounge and table seating where colleagues can work or even take breaks, which our research on brain health shows are critical to health and performance.

To align with our point-of-view on the future of work, we designed our workplace policy and our physical space centered on trust in our teams. Together, teammates determine where and how they will work to achieve our business goals. Digital equity is key to our objective to attract a more diverse workforce, so we designed that into our new work ecosystem, too.  We host client meetings in the open studio so our clients can experience the creative atmosphere, and see how designing policy and place together realize a vibrant, healthy work culture.

The Design Impact

As we navigate through our first year of occupancy, we are constantly researching our space to learn how it performs and how it benefits our firm, our clients and even our landlord, to help future tenants. We are currently targeting LEED and WELL Gold certifications, as well as pursuing the firm’s first office Brain Health Certification.

We will continue to analyze performance data and make necessary adjustments as we move forward.

Project Features

Courtney Ousley



News, Announcements and Events

University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center Phase 2

Case Study

University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center Phase 2 Expanding with Flexibility

Beachwood, Ohio

The Challenge

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

The Design Solution

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

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

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

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

The Design Impact

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

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

Project Features

Lisa Sgarlata

Ana Hutchins

Case Studies

Diane Adler




News, Announcements and Events

Laura DiConti

Case Studies

HKS Nurses Provide Unique Perspective to Health Care Design

HKS Nurses Provide Unique Perspective to Health Care Design

Michelle Jutt always wanted to be a nurse.

“I’m just a natural caretaker,” Jutt said. “It’s what I was born to do.”

But she never expected her career path to lead to an architecture firm.

Jutt is a Partner and Global Practice Director, Advisory Services at HKS. She is also one of seven nurses employed by the firm.

Why would a global design firm hire seven nurses? Because they provide valuable expertise as advisors, strategists, medical planners and company leaders. May is National Nurses Month and HKS is celebrating the contributions of its nurse employees.

Why would a global design firm hire seven nurses? Because they provide valuable expertise as advisors, strategists, medical planners and company leaders.

In addition to Jutt, another nurse at HKS is Principal Jennie Evans, Global Development Director of the firm’s Communities sector. Senior Managers Laura DiConti and Lisa Sgarlata; and Managers Ana Hutchins and Shawna Langworthy, all with the firm’s Advisory Services group, are also nurses.

The nurses at HKS have worked in specialties ranging from pediatrics to geriatrics, in diverse geographic regions, in inpatient and outpatient environments covering the entire continuum of care. Together, they bring a total of 188 years of nursing experience to the firm.

“There’s so much creativity that comes from a band of nurses working together,” said Evans.

From left to right Michelle Jutt, Jennie Evans, Laura DiConti, Lisa Sgarlata, Ana Hutchins and Shawna Langworthy

Shared Passion

The seven nurses followed different roads to the nursing and design professions, but they share a passion for caregiving.

Jutt, who is based in Orlando, made her way to HKS in 2017 after a hospital career that included bedside care; human resources; quality, risk and safety management and executive leadership roles.

“I felt like there was something missing for me after almost 20 years,” Jutt said. “I wasn’t feeling the challenge quite like I had in the beginning.”

A friend who worked at HKS told Jutt about a job opening at the firm. Jutt said that as she considered the position, she thought, “You all design hospitals, and I get to be part of that. I get to tell you what works and doesn’t work within a hospital. What a great idea!”

Michelle Jutt, recognized as a Jewish Hospital Health Network Nurse of the Year, 2002 / presenting at an HKS client meeting

Langworthy is based in the Chicago office. Like Jutt, she has wanted to be a nurse since childhood. “I never thought about anything else, ever” as a profession, Langworthy said.

She worked her way through college, beginning with an associate degree in nursing and continuing her education throughout her career as a nurse and nurse executive, culminating with a doctorate in 2020. Langworthy said that some of her most memorable accomplishments at the hospitals where she worked involved facility design and construction projects. She came to HKS to leverage her experience as a nurse and as a leader to influence health care design.

DiConti, from HKS Los Angeles, started out as a hospital employee at age 19, collecting menus from patients. “My whole career has been focused on health care,” she said. “The hospital is my second home.”

DiConti worked several years as a registered dietitian nutritionist before making the move to nursing at age 30 because she wanted to spend more time with patients. She spent nearly a decade in bedside care, earned her master’s degree in health administration and went on to serve in clinical management, care management and consulting. She was being recruited for a Director of Nursing position when she saw an online posting for a job at an architecture firm.

“Health care design sounded fascinating, and I thought I’d take a risk,” DiConti said. Nine years into her career in health care design, she jumped to HKS, where she’s now worked for eight years.

Laura DiConti with medical dispensing equipment, 1990s / on a site visit with fellow HKS nurse Ana Hutchins and HKS architect Ethan Hopkins

Evans, who is based in the HKS Dallas office, began her career as a health care assistant in Canada. In that role, she learned to provide basic hands-on patient care, such as taking blood pressure readings.

“I made a list of 10 things that I really wanted to do with my life,” said Evans. “I wanted to travel, I wanted to help people – nursing fit all of those” requirements.

Her job as a traveling nurse ultimately took her to Dallas, where she planned to stay for six months. “That’s 20-some years ago now,” Evans said with a laugh.

Evans’ responsibilities at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas included helping to usher in multiple facility design projects, including working with HKS designers as the hospital’s Clinical Liaison for Design and Construction.

Evans, who has a Master of Business Administration degree in international/global studies, now works at HKS to develop strategic relationships for the firm’s Community sector, helping create healthier and more livable communities worldwide.

Evans said that having multiple nurses on staff demonstrates that “HKS is serious about being the best health care architect.”

Jennie Evans nursing school graduation, 1987 / presenting with HKS Health Studio Practice Leader Kate Renner

“Soup to Nuts”

According to Evans, nurses possess skills that lend themselves well to design projects.

“We’re trained to observe,” she said. “We’re trained to look at the bigger picture. And we have to be efficient.”

Plus, said DiConti, “we’re really good listeners.” As a result, nurses can clearly understand what health care providers want to achieve with a project – and they can help hold the project team to that vision.

“We relate and connect (with clinicians) on a different level,” said Jutt. “We speak their language.”

“Nurses on architecture teams are translators,” said Evans. Nurses not only help translate operational needs into health care spaces, but they also help clinical and design professionals communicate with one another.

Evans described a planning session for an emergency department (ED) design project during which a hospital nurse kept saying that 80 percent of the facility’s patients were older than 80 years old. Evans said she turned to an architect at the meeting and explained, “That means their length of stay in the emergency room is longer than what we would typically plan,” because elderly patients require more time in the ED.

“We understand staffing. We understand operations. We just understand the health care environment, soup to nuts,” Evans said.

Quality Care

When Jutt joined HKS, she was initially concerned that she might miss having a hand in direct patient care. “But what I have found is that I get to make a difference in a much, much larger way,” she said.

Jutt recalled attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony at HKS-designed Emory Musculoskeletal Institute in Atlanta and thinking back on all the site tours and user interviews she’d participated in to help develop the operations plan that guided the facility’s design.

“In that moment, I just cried,” Jutt said. “I thought, ‘This started with a piece of paper and now it’s a building that’s going to take care of patients from all over.’ That’s a really proud moment that will stick with me.”

Langworthy said she hopes her work at HKS creates a legacy of improved satisfaction and safety for hospital patients and staff. “It makes a difference, the design of the projects we’re working on,” she said. “That’s incredibly important. Health care is a risky business. Patients are really sick these days.”

“At the end of the day, we’re taking care of patients,” said Jutt.

“Most Trusted Profession”

While their professional focus has shifted from direct care to design, HKS nurses maintain their nursing credentials.

Jutt, for example, keeps her nurse executive and human resources certificates up to date because “those are important to me personally and I think they continue to give credibility to what we do” at HKS, she said.

Evans maintains her nursing license to help health care professionals recognize that she understands their world. She said that being a nurse gives her work validation.

“Nursing is the most trusted profession in the world,” she said. “Why not have that on your business card?”

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

Case Study

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

The Challenge

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

The Design Solution

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

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

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

The Design Impact

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suzanna Kelley, MBA, FAIA, Chief Experience Officer

Project Features

Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center O’Quinn Medical Tower at McNair

Case Study

Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center O’Quinn Medical Tower at McNair New O'Quinn Medical Tower Offers Less Stressful Patient Journey

Houston, Texas, USA

The Challenge

Shifting toward a patient-centric care model, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center moved its campus from the urban Texas Medical Center to the nearby McNair campus, which has a more suburban feel and improve the visitor experience. O’Quinn Medical Tower serves as the new home for outpatient clinics and surgery services including the NCI-designated Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center. The client challenged the design team to create a unique patient journey that is calming and improves wellness.

The Design Solution

During visioning workshops, the project team worked with end users to examine various patient, visitor and staff experiences to understand better how they may react to their environment. The team looked at ways to ease the user’s pain points as they moved through the building and improve the overall experience.

The design development phase began in early 2020 – just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, forcing everyone to transition from working in-person to all-virtual meetings. On a typical project during this phase, the team builds physical mock-ups so the client and users can experience how spaces will function. Instead, the team developed 3D images of the spaces to take the client on a “guided tour” of the patient journey. These virtual mock-ups inspired the client to think about the different types of people going through the spaces and how they interact with the building. They began the journey by entering the building, going up the elevators and into treatment spaces, and completing the journey through the discharge lobby. This helped them to make the right design decisions. Changes to the design can be made in real-time to test out different scenarios.

Infusion treatment spaces are broken down into a series of neighborhoods arrayed along a main street (which can be turned into one-way traffic during flu season or a crisis like COVID-19). Each has its own front door and socialization lounge. To counteract patient stress, the design gives them choices and control over their immediate surroundings. Depending on how they feel that day, patients can choose a private infusion room, semi-private space, or a cluster of chairs for socialization. These strategies are meant to create a feeling of comfort and community among patients.

The Design Impact

The building has been well-received by the community for its beauty and thoughtfulness in each space. The consolidated cancer care services located on the outskirts of Texas Medical Center makes the trip for care much easier and less stressful.

Working on this project during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to change the way we operate in many ways. The virtual mock-ups help us to focus better on the patient journey and improve the user experience by creating an environment that supports the healing process. These mock-ups were so successful that we have now implemented them into our regular workstream.

Project Features

“HKS has brought a strong group of architects to work with us from the beginning. They engaged our team during master planning, listened to our needs, and helped us make strategic decisions for the future of our campus.”

Paul Klotman, M.D., President and CEO, Executive Dean
Baylor College of Medicine

Energized: Can a University Campus Reach Net Zero by 2025?

Energized: Can a University Campus Reach Net Zero by 2025?

Can a university campus reach net zero by 2025? The task may seem too tall, the timetable too tight. But the situation is urgent. That’s why the University of California, San Diego is committed to a sustainable future through the development and adherence of a Climate Action Plan (CAP) that includes specific goals and timelines informed by operational baseline data.

UC San Diego is a longtime leader in climate change research and education, dating from Dr. Charles Keeling’s groundbreaking work linking rising levels of atmospheric carbon to fossil fuel emissions. The university has made significant progress in areas such as academics and research, energy and climate, sustainable operations, environmentally preferable procurement, waste diversion, clean transportation and water conservation and is on track to meet its ambitious sustainability goals. Chief among them, that its buildings and vehicle fleet become climate neutral by 2025.

UC San Diego’s all-inclusive transformational plan also supports many state and regional objectives and directives to tackle carbon emissions. At the building scale, the CAP is integrated within the university’s new project developments, including the HKS-designed North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood (NTPLLN), to achieve carbon neutrality.

NTPLLN opened in fall 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The design intent led to significant positive measured outcomes for student well-being and the neighborhood is now certified LEED v3 Platinum – the largest higher education project in California to achieve that distinction.

A New Living and Learning Home for Sixth College

NTPLLN is a dynamic mixed-use neighborhood that combines academic, residential, commercial and cultural programming. It is designed to reduce the environmental impact for current and future generations. Prominently positioned on UC San Diego’s 1,200-acre campus, NTPLLN is the new home for Sixth College and the university’s social sciences and arts and humanities departments. The vibrant 1.5-million square-foot neighborhood fulfills UC San Diego’s vision of a fully integrated university community by blending residential housing for more than 2,000 students, academic buildings, classrooms and community space to create a truly immersive community-centered learning experience.

Each building houses a combination of living, learning, community and administrative facilities and provide expansive terraces with sweeping ocean views and myriad outdoor spaces, including pedestrian and bike-friendly pathways. Every design move was strategic: to create a place of health, wellness and environmental responsibility that supports student and faculty well-being and academic excellence. Additionally, NTPLLN promotes healthy human and environmental interactions and improves air, water, and soil quality for enhanced biodiversity.

Supported by several performance frameworks including LEED, Parksmart, CALGreen and the AIA 2030 Commitment, the integrated sustainability features target carbon-neutral operations by embracing initiatives that will measurably reduce energy consumption, water use and waste, ensuring the sustainable community will meet the future needs of UC San Diego’s administration, faculty and students.

Meeting and Exceeding Energy and Environmental Goals

The design takes full advantage of the local micro-climate to deliver improved environmental quality and enhanced occupant comfort within indoor and outdoor spaces at multiple levels. Future climate weather files were utilized to stress test the resiliency of the project design based on carbon emission escalation rates and mitigation scenarios, ensuring that the resources utilized for the design and construction of NTPPLN today meets the needs of the campus tomorrow.

The siting and massing of residential buildings are intentional design measures to balance access to daylighting, reduce solar gains and promote natural ventilation. The fixed exterior shading provides reductions in solar heat gains during peak cooling months, improving thermal comfort and reducing energy demand.

Given the favorable and unique climate conditions in San Diego, over 70% of the housing building area is naturally ventilated which is an alternative passive measure to using energy intensive mechanical ventilation and cooling. All residential units include operable windows to naturally cool and ventilate each unit. Studies demonstrate that passively ventilated spaces improve cognitive functions from increased volumes of outside air. And little did we know that naturally ventilated spaces and the open-air campus design would become a critically important safety feature to help protect student and faculty health during the pandemic.

A photovoltaic system powers the 1,200-space parking structure, which was designed with deep light penetrating wells for potential conversion into other uses in a car-free future. The parking structure includes various energy efficiency measures including sensors capable of detecting unsafe levels of emissions that control exhaust fans, daylighting wells to reduce electrical load from lighting and that provide an opportunity to naturally ventilate the space.

To advance campus efforts toward carbon neutrality, the NTPLLN Design Build Team integrated an on-site modular micro-anaerobic digester thereby creating a local environmental impact asset and catalyst. The anaerobic digester provides on-site generation of electrical energy from organic food waste and materials while producing valuable enrichened liquid fertilizer for community gardens. This diverts waste from the landfill and eliminates the emissions generated from offsite trucking. The anaerobic digester acts as a closed loop system where the conversion of organic waste into fuel and nutrients promotes the concept of community based, farm-to table- and back to farm, life cycle.

Since NTPLLN opened, on-site building performance metrics have been consistently tracked. The measured performance of NTPLLN resulted in an 81% reduction in measured energy use intensity (EUI) inclusive of renewables – exceeding initial targets and helping UC San Diego get even closer to reaching ambitious climate action goals.

NTPLLN also achieves a 30% energy improvement over CEC 2016 Title 24 and a 70% predicted energy reduction through the AIA 2030 Commitment. On-site renewable energy amounts to 4% of total energy while 60.5% of the electricity consumption at NTPLLN is offset through renewable energy credit purchases, procured through the University of California Wholesale Power Program. Continuous benchmarking with Energy Star Portfolio Manager, and on-going measurement and verification, aid in further decarbonizing energy and water operations at UC San Diego.

Because energy efficiency measures exceed California’s Title 24 requirements, the school was able to participate in San Diego Gas & Electric’s Savings By Design program, which awarded more than $200,000 in funding that can be applied to other needs.

Setting Goals for LEED – and Leading through Teaching

Referencing the Chancellor’s vision for the university and goals identified in the CAP, in collaboration with UC San Diego staff, Clark Construction and HKS facilitated a multidisciplinary immersion course that utilized NTPLLN as a living example of how LEED’s comprehensive approach to the built environment can substantially improve environmental outcomes at various scales.

Modeled after one of USGBC’s educational resources, the pilot course adopted the framework of LEED® Lab™, designed specifically for LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance (LEED O+M), but in the context of LEED Building Design and Construction (LEED BD+C) both in theory and application. Students gained a unique opportunity to connect and engage with professionals who designed and delivered NTPLLN by reviewing prerequisites and credits related to site considerations, energy use, water consumption, waste management and occupant comfort. They also learned how to evaluate a project’s impact on the surrounding land and ecosystem.

The LEED Living Lab pilot course is now offered for-credit — a first of its kind at UC San Diego. The desired outcome of the course is to use the built environment to broaden the students’ view so that they can mature into sustainability-focused citizens and become leaders in their fields of studies. While the focus of the CAP is foremost campus operations, it embraces the vision of a student-centric university using experiential learning techniques to provide opportunities for students to gain real-world experience. The LEED Living Lab pilot course became a cornerstone of both supporting the CAP process and delivery of NTPLLN.

Enforcing climate action plans are particularly important for the state of California where aggressive greenhouse gas reductions are demanded and are setting the pace for the nation. The desired outcome is to improve public health and air quality, conserve water, efficiently use existing resources, and increase clean energy production, thereby improving the quality of life for UC San Diego and the broader community. The NTPLLN project has been a transformational opportunity to nurture a collaborative and interdisciplinary living and learning community that provides an educational experience focused on collaboration, leadership, and innovation in a diverse and interconnected world, supporting the UC San Diego Strategic Plan.

The University of California has more than 40 LEED buildings, with most new construction targeting Gold certification or higher, including another HKS-designed project at UC San Diego — the Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood. With more than 4 million square feet of green building projects in its pipeline, the University of California is a leader in enhancing human and environmental health and well-being at the neighborhood, campus and community scales.

NTPLLN demonstrates — with its significant measured outcomes for environmental and human health — how climate action plans, design-build collaborations, and outcome-driven designs can positively impact the future of architecture and education.

Navigating an Ever-Changing Health Landscape: Key Factors for Health Master Planning

Navigating an Ever-Changing Health Landscape: Key Factors for Health Master Planning

Confronted by staffing issues, financial concerns and a changing health care delivery environment, health systems are seeking ways to provide their communities with the best value and high-level care.

One option is comprehensive master planning. A comprehensive master plan is a dynamic, long-term guide for future development that is aligned to an organization’s strategy and priorities. It can provide health care organizations with a clear direction for the future, enabling them to respond to any situation with agility and steadfast commitment to their core values.

Core Principles

University of Wisconsin Hospitals & Clinics (UW Health), the integrated health system of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has updated data and reassessed priorities in the organization’s master plan on a roughly annual basis starting in 2017, following an iterative process designed to help the health system keep pace with changing community needs.

Dr. Peter Newcomer, Chief Clinical Officer, UW Health, said the process has helped them go back to their core principles on all their projects. And, he said, it’s also helped the system avoid wasting money.

“We always go back to our strategic plan, which of course has in it our academic mission,” Newcomer said. “If we start with who we are as an organization and where we’re going with our strategic plan…we’re much more successful.”

Liz Douglas, System Vice President, Facilities and Support Services, UW Health, said the central question to master planning is not “what do we want to build?” It is, “what do our patients need?”

System, Campus and Facility master plans can help health systems establish a framework for moving forward at interconnected levels of operations. Additional master plans—Strategic, Community and Experiential—can help define an organization’s overall strategic plan, develop an approach to serve a specific community, or describe how an organization’s brand is represented across digital and physical environments.

Taking an integrated approach to master planning can help align a health system’s goals and projects in each of these areas, with an aim towards increased quality and reduced operational and capital costs. Mike McKay, Director of Planning, Design, Construction & Real Estate, UW Health, explained that the organization’s strategic plan informs its campus and facility plans – a practice that enables the health system to be more proactive in every avenue of planning and workforce development and helps ensure each project supports the greater whole.

“It takes a fair amount of listening and understanding to put an integrated team together to tackle this kind of work,” said Jason Schroer, Global Practice Director for HKS’ Health practice.

Return on Investment

Health systems face several looming challenges, including a critical shortage of workers, extensive changes to workflow due to expanded digital care delivery and increased concerns about health equity and the social determinants of health. Competition from retail and online health outlets is also an issue. Technology and retail giant Amazon, for example, now offers pharmacy and online clinic services and recently acquired the membership-based primary care provider, One Medical.

In addition, inflation, rising interest rates and elevated construction and supply costs put a lot of pressure on health systems, says Courtney Ousley, Senior Advisor with HKS Advisory Services. The firm’s Advisory Services group comprises business, health care and design experts who work with organizations’ senior leadership teams to facilitate decision making.

“Finances are top of mind right now,” she said. “Health systems have a limited amount of capital to spend, and master planning can help guide conversations about, ‘Where can you invest capital that will drive the most benefit for your organization?’

“As higher labor and supply costs continue to erode hospital margins and some systems face downgrades to their credit ratings, access to capital will prove challenging,” said Ousley. “Hospitals with stronger financial positions will benefit from improved access to financing for facility improvements or expansions.”

Master planning helps identify opportunities to use capital in the most valuable manner. The “4 R’s” of master planning describe key questions health leaders can ask to better prepare for an uncertain future:


Health systems embarking on a master planning process should evaluate their service offerings with an eye towards reducing duplication and enhancing patient care.

“Health systems may focus on centers of excellence for services like neurosciences or cardiovascular that consolidate care and improve efficiency for staff and facilities,” said Ousley.

Michigan-based health systems Beaumont Health and Spectrum Health recently integrated to become Corewell Health. In 2020, Spectrum Health conducted a master plan aligned with the system’s strategic and financial plans, driven by space efficiency and utilization metrics. The goal was to create a right-sized facility portfolio, said Alan Kranzo, Senior Director, Real Estate Strategy, Corewell Health.

As a result of this planning exercise, Spectrum Health realigned and consolidated services to increase operational efficiency. This provides patients with improved convenience and delivers a more consistent branded experience, Kranzo said.


Multiple factors are encouraging health care providers to transfer services to the outpatient arena.

Health care payers are shifting to payment models that incentivize providers to treat patients in the outpatient environment when appropriate, instead of at more expensive hospital facilities designed and staffed to support acute levels of care.

In addition, increased consumerism in health care means health systems need to consider where people in their community want to receive care. Convenience and accessibility are important to patients.

Spectrum Health’s planning process revealed the health system’s patients, visitors and staff prefer integrated care campuses that provide core services close to home.

“Health care is evolving,” said Kranzo. “You’re seeing more things done in an outpatient setting. We’re trying to locate those services where it’s more convenient for patients.”

Ousley said that as health leaders consider the future, they should ask themselves, “How do we continue to invest in maintaining and modernizing aging facilities while also investing in our local community with assets that improve access to care and focus on the greatest growth opportunities?”

UnityPoint Health – Des Moines, part of Midwest health system UnityPoint Health, started master planning in 2019 “to work on our long-term success in serving the community,” said David Stark, President and CEO, UnityPoint Health – Des Moines.

The hospital’s early master planning efforts involved shifting certain operations to ambulatory care – a forward-looking approach the organization discovered had immediate benefit. Bringing together multispecialty care providers and using technology to reach patients remotely “really helped us during the pandemic,” Stark said.


Streamlining operations can impact a health system’s facility planning in many ways. For example, “If they can improve their turnaround time in their operating rooms, they might be able to build fewer ORs in the future, which frees up capital and space for other investments,” Ousley said.

The consolidation of services at Spectrum Health improved efficiency and created more programmable space for direct patient care.

“We’re not duplicating a lot of support spaces for multiple services, such as multiple waiting areas, multiple registration points,” said Kranzo. “It allows more space for patient care and face-to-face treatment areas for our patients.”

Operational redesign – and related facility redesign – can help health care organizations improve the experience of patients, visitors and staff at their facilities. Critically, this can aid in staff recruitment and retention.

“The cost of labor has increased significantly, and the pandemic exacerbated staff burnout,” said Ousley. “Designing facilities to support the staff experience is imperative.”


Since facilities are typically a fixed cost for health systems, optimizing efficiency and balancing expected patient volumes with facility space are key to planning efforts.

For an expansion project at UnityPoint Health – Des Moines, the system took a hard look at factors such as treatment protocols for observational patients and patient length of stay to determine bed capacity and optimize space, said Sid Ramsey, the hospital’s Vice President of Marketing and Business Development.

“We try to make the best forecast projections possible knowing that this investment in infrastructure is probably the single largest expenditure the hospital has incurred. It has to sustain this organization for 30, 40, 50 years. We take that responsibility very seriously,” Ramsey said.

UW Health’s master planning process was spurred in part by “rapid growth in patient volumes resulting in significant space shortages,” said Douglas.

Lack of adequate space with no master facilities plan in place can lead to an urgent need to solve problems quickly, in what Douglas described as a “take-what-you-can-get type of approach.”

A master plan that considers the needs of patients along with efficient workflow leads everyday decisions to move an organization forward in the context of a greater plan, “allowing for the highest and best use of existing space resources and the thoughtful creation of new space,” she said.

UW Health’s Newcomer said that designing flexibility into a master facility plan can help optimize space utilization.

“As we build new inpatient spaces, we need to have flexible spaces that can be virtual care, office space, whatever we need,” he said. “Flexibility is key to our future planning.”