Brain Building Exhibit

Case Study

Brain Building Exhibit Merging Research and Design for an Interactive Experience

Dallas, Texas, USA

The Challenge

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

The Design Solution

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

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

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

The Design Impact

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

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

Project Features


Expedia Group

Case Study

Expedia Group A Dynamic Design Driven by Connection and Adaptation

Springfield, Missouri, USA

The Challenge

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

The Design Solution

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

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

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

The Design Impact

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

Project Features


Bryan Berg

Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU’s New Tower: Space to Grow

Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU’s New Tower: Space to Grow

This story first appeared in the 2023 July/August Edition of Medical Construction & Design. It is reprinted here with their permission.

Situated at the gateway to VCU Medical Center’s campus, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU’s new Children’s Tower is a landmark 16-story, 565,000-square-foot hospital. The building expands the existing Children’s Pavilion, creating a consolidated location for pediatric healthcare — an entire city block dedicated to serving the children of Richmond, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the region.

Adjacent to some of Richmond’s most important and historic civic structures, the design establishes a bold, signature identity. A yellow ribbon articulated along the façade visually stitches the tower and pavilion together, while colorful fins along the building’s exterior highlight the tower’s identity as a children’s hospital. It includes 72 critical and acute care inpatient beds, a Level 01 pediatric trauma center with a rooftop helistop, surgical and imaging suites, and a full range of support services, including a Ronald McDonald House, multi-faith chapel and child-friendly cafeteria.

Designed by children, for children

Early in the project, designers and researchers interviewed members of the CHoR Family Advisory Network to understand and map their care journeys in the current hospital.

CHoR FAN members also participated in design workshops, physical and virtual mock-ups and operational planning alongside care team members. Touchpoints and priorities identified through those engagements formed the basis of design, with each key moment being crafted to define the optimal future state. A community design fair enabled over 100 children and family members to directly engage in the design process, voting on concepts, themes and color palettes.

The tower’s colorful interior architecture and design draw inspiration from local nature and the James River, intrinsically connecting the building with its location and creating an environment that can be both calming and engaging. Animal mascots selected by children and families provide unique themes for each level. An interactive shadow play zone, faceted discovery niches and colorful hanging sculptural elements engage patients and visitors along their journey through the hospital. Panoramic views, access to natural light and artwork in patient care areas and care team spaces have a calming, restorative effect to reduce anxiety and stress, and ultimately, promote healing.

Beacon for well-being

The tower creates an environment intended to provide normalcy and support the developmental needs of children and adolescent patients.

Each patient room is private and provides opportunities for personalization with color-changing lights and dedicated family zones with comfortable accommodations for overnight stays.

Teen lounges provide space for adolescent young adults to interact with one another, read, do homework and play video games; playrooms with colorful activity niches and age-appropriate toys provide play space for younger children. Custom art panels featuring animals and educational facts create ‘seek and find’ opportunities for children and provide a sightly cover to cabinets with personal protective equipment for providers.

Other areas that serve children’s growth needs include an area for hospital teachers to help patients continue learning during their stay and a developmental gym with physical therapy space. An indoor garden and elevated garden overlook offer diverse spaces for respite and activities; a performance room provides event space with live streaming capabilities so children who are not able to attend in person can watch performances from their rooms.

Evidence-based, research-informed

The team incorporated an evidence-based approach throughout the tower’s planning process, aligning design strategies with intended outcomes. Post-occupancy performance evaluations provided insights into design and operational strategies, as well as opportunities to further enhance key elements for continuous improvement. The team also conducted a literature review in collaboration with the University of Virginia to identify a range of drivers transforming pediatric healthcare.

Plan analytics and rapid prototyping helped optimize adjacencies to reduce travel distances for care team members, while maximizing visibility to patient rooms and among peers. Scenario testing in physical and virtual mock-ups enabled methodical testing of details within key spaces. The design team created a full reference guide to use during operational planning and activation that ensured care team members had a grasp of the design intent, strategies and supporting evidence.

Interprofessional care team model

Team spaces are designed to support the interprofessional care model and enhance opportunities for connection and collaboration. Open workstations, quieter team rooms and small team stations offer flexibility for focused or collaborative work. Charting alcoves between patient rooms provide workspace directly adjacent to the point of care for easy monitoring, and bedside computer stations provide immediate access to records within the patient room. Standardized clinical support cores provide adjacency between key spaces to maximize workflow efficiency and minimize distances to patient rooms.

An off-stage care team zone provides additional space for collaboration and adequate space for respite, as do interprofessional team lounges where care team members can enjoy daylight and views. Dedicated relaxation rooms with dimmable lighting, windows, biophilic art and a reclining massage chair on each unit and in the emergency department are available for care team members to step away as needed during their shifts.

Designing for optimization and the ever-changing present

Built on a tight urban site, the tower maximizes the available footprint to provide appropriately sized patient care spaces. To further increase the footprint of the upper levels, the tower is cantilevered 15 feet out from the lower levels, providing adequate space for the 24-bed units. The pediatric trauma center is located on the seventh floor to also take advantage of the larger footprint. It has a trauma bay with two care stations and flexibility to surge to four if needed, as well as 22 universal exam rooms with exceptional views. A 275-foot-long bridge elevated three stories above the ground connects the tower to the medical center, ensuring safe and convenient access to services for care team members and patients.


The tower is designed to support future growth. Patient rooms are all universally designed, enabling future conversion to critical care beds if needed. Shell space within the tower and pavilion will enable the addition of 48 more inpatient beds for a total of 120 beds, as well as the future addition of diagnostic and treatment spaces, research and administrative spaces, and amenity spaces based on future growth needs.

An additional two floors of vertical expansion capacity are included in the structural design of the space above the pavilion, providing even more vertical growth potential.

A true team effort

CHoR and VCU Health leadership, the Richmond community and patients and families served by the Children’s Hospital of Richmond demonstrated exemplary, thoughtful collaboration with the design and construction teams to realize the Children’s Tower. Working hand in hand, this unified team brought its vision of an oasis for healing to life, creating a world-class hospital where generations of children and adolescents will come to heal and grow.

Kate Renner, AIA, EDAC, LSSBG, LEED AP, WELL AP, is a senior medical planner, vice president and health studio practice leader at HKS, located in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office.

Project team

• Architect: HKS Inc.
• Program manager: JLL
• Contractor: DPR
• MEP engineer: BR+A
• Structural engineer: Dunbar
• Structural engineer, parking consultant: WSP
• Low voltage, technology, medical equipment: Introba
• Civil engineer: TRC Companies
• Landscape architect: Reichbauer Studio PLC.
• Lighting design: The Lighting Practice
• Logistics, vertical transportation: St. Onge
• Helideck design: FEC Heliports
• Acoustic engineering: Convergent Technology Design Group
• Wind engineering: RWDI
• Wayfinding, signage: Exit
• Graphic illustrations: Liz Taylor Creative
• Operational, transition planning: HTS, ClarkRN

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


New Patient Tower Signals Hope for Richmond Children and Families

New Patient Tower Signals Hope for Richmond Children and Families

No matter how you approach downtown Richmond, VA, your eye will catch a glimpse of something special. Standing tall among the historic structures of the city center is a shimmering building clad with glass, a bright yellow ribbon and colorful fins: the new Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR) Children’s Tower.

During the last several decades, CHoR has established itself as a premiere pediatric care provider, delivering a full range of services for children experiencing common diseases, injuries and complex health conditions. But until now, the hospital’s services and facilities were “fragmented” across the VCU Medical Center Campus.

“When care is fragmented, there are gaps and inequities that get created,” said Jeniece Roane, CHoR’s Vice President of Operations.

In 2016, the outpatient Children’s Pavilion opened and marked a big step forward in CHoR’s goal to consolidate services in a centralized, state-of-the-art environment. The Children’s Tower, which opened this spring, fully accomplishes that goal with 72 critical and acute care inpatient rooms and a Level 1 pediatric trauma center.

“Now, we’ve got a world-class facility that reflects our commitment and makes it very clear for parents and guardians where the best care for children is delivered,” said Roane, who has been a registered nurse for 30 years and has worked with CHoR for 25 years.

The Children’s Tower signifies the importance of investing in children’s health care for a rapidly growing region full of young families. HKS health studio practice leader Leslie Hanson, who served as Principal in Charge of the project, said that the building’s contemporary design also symbolizes an even broader transformation taking place in Richmond.

“This project, along with the Pavilion, is making a significant difference in how people look at the city. The design beckons to the future and sets a trajectory for Richmond as being progressive and forward-thinking,” said Hanson.

An Integrated Team and Process from Day One

To create a building that would signal a hopeful look forward, the design team searched outward and inward, relying on precedent projects, community engagement, research, and innovative thinking to guide them.

HKS, CHoR and VCU Health first began developing plans for new facilities as far back as 2006, when Hanson and health system leaders toured pediatric hospitals across the United States for inspiration. Over the next several years, the project went through multiple iterations before the idea to build the Children’s Pavilion and the Children’s Tower on a combined site emerged as the best solution.

The Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU Children’s Tower and Children’s Pavilion, both designed by HKS, sit on the same site and provide consolidated inpatient and outpatient services.

From the start, an integrated HKS team of architects, interior designers, and researchers sought to design a Children’s Tower that reflected the needs of everyone who would set foot in the building and create an oasis of healing for children. The team worked hand in hand with CHoR and VCU Health leadership, care team members, community partners, and the CHoR Family Advisory Network— which includes young adult and adolescent patients, as well as parents and guardians of younger patients — to accomplish these goals. Engagements included interviews, patient journey mapping, and a community design fair where more than 100 children and their family members gave input on design concepts and color palettes.

“The ability to partner with care team members as well as patients and families really helped ensure we were creating meaningful moments in the design,” said HKS’ Kate Renner, the architect, medical planner and researcher who led the project team. “We talked with them about their experiences in the current facilities and what opportunities we could leverage to create the ideal future state.”

Roane and Renner both said that the team responsible for creating the Children’s Tower felt like a unified group, where everyone worked toward the same goals.

“I felt very supported by the HKS team and that we’ve had a great partner,” Roane said. “They listened to the voices of our team, of our community, our caregivers, and patients and they’ve been able to translate that in a way that really reflects all the pent-up desire for this community to have a true children’s hospital.”

The design team leveraged almost every single health research tool HKS has in its toolbelt, according to Renner, including parametric analysis, intent and evidence documentation, shadowing, behavior mapping, benchmarking, rapid prototyping and FLEXX research. They gleaned insight from post-occupancy performance evaluations at the Children’s Pavilion and extensively studied interprofessional workflows. The team also built full scale mock-ups and tested them with care teams and stakeholders, making adjustments to the design based on feedback.

“We were able to address operational concerns at the same time we were designing the space,” said Renner, who has been working on CHoR projects for nearly a decade. “That level of collaboration resulted in spaces that are truly interprofessional throughout the clinical areas and different care team spaces that function better.”

Cara Timberlake, a registered nurse who works in the emergency department located on the Children’s Tower’s third floor has found that spaces such as an internal waiting room, private consultation rooms, and ample storage areas have all helped create more efficient workflows for cross-team professionals including nurses, physicians, social workers, child life staff members and security personnel.

Timberlake said that the new space fully supports the collaborative and collegial working dynamics she enjoys in her day-to-day work.

“The good relationships between everyone haven’t changed since we’ve moved into the new building and that’s something I really appreciate,” she said.

Care team members have ample space to complete clinical tasks, collaborate with other professionals, and connect with patients and families.

But many things have changed for care team members like Timberlake, who said the Children’s Tower’s staff amenity and support areas are a huge improvement over cramped facilities they used before. Separate locker and break rooms, as well as dedicated recharge and respite spaces called “Watson Rooms,” are conveniently located within each unit.

“I’m right down the hall from my patients and I don’t have to travel far or take travel time to get to there. Because of the location of the Watson Room, I’m able to close my eyes and truly relax a little bit more.” Timberlake said. “It’s a serenity space.”

Design that Promotes Well-being and Discovery

To promote holistic well-being of everyone at CHoR — from care team members to patients and their families — the Children’s Tower’s design includes abundant natural light and biophilic elements.

Many interior architecture and design details throughout the hospital are inspired by the James River, which winds its way through Richmond. The river itself influenced circulation patterns and colorful mascots representing animals native to river habitats bring a unique character identity to each floor.

“When you can have design features that are relatable to the community that they’re in, it softens the experience and makes it more approachable, more like home,” said HKS’ Corrine Kipp, the project’s lead interior designer who attended VCU and lives in Richmond.

The team also made design decisions influenced by the more abstract concept of “shadow play,” which is realized though unique shapes, fun colors, sculptural elements, and niches that offer exciting moments of wonder and interaction for children.

“These elements are more whimsical,” Kipp said. “They are inspired by things children really gravitate towards that adults don’t always necessarily find the beauty in.”

Colorful discovery niches throughout the building give patients and visitors exciting moments of engagement and calming places to take a deep breath

Kipp and Renner said that along with the stimulating shadow play features, elements of choice throughout the building play an important role in the design. Inside their rooms, for example, patients can control color-changing lights and TVs that offer variety of entertainment options when they need rest or treatment.

“Allowing a child to feel like they have some choice or some small amount of control, you can see stress melt away,” said Kipp, noting that being the mother of a young child helped her make informed decisions throughout the design process. “They feel trusted to do things they think are right for them, and that makes them feel safer and more at ease.”

Elements of choice also help support children’s long-term holistic development across the full duration of what can be lengthy hospital stays, Renner said. Outside of their rooms, patients have easy access to areas where they can be themselves including multiple play spaces, a teen lounge, a developmental gym, and a performance room — all of which contribute to developmental growth and provide a sense of normalcy during difficult times.

Because trying to feel “normal” can be just as hard for family members as it is for children in a hospital setting, the Children’s Tower also has numerous spaces that suit the day-to-day needs of parents and guardians. The family gym, cafeteria, Ronald McDonald House Charities support spaces and services, and personal quiet rooms where adults can take a phone call, close their eyes, or get some work done, all aid their ability to focus on taking care of their kids while not neglecting their own needs.

Further fostering a cohesive and comfortable experience, the team also created connections between the exterior and interior designs. The colorful fins on the glass façade, inspired by CHoR’s brand, take the form of playful hanging sculptures inside and influenced art and furniture selections. And the yellow ribbon that visually unifies the Pavilion and Children’s Tower outside extends indoors where the color and motif indicate touchpoints and vertical transportation, making the hospital easier to navigate.

Privacy and Comfort for Patients, a Bright Future for Richmond

Perhaps the most impactful decision the CHoR and HKS teams made when planning the Children’s Tower was making every patient room private. The hospital’s prior facilities included semi-private rooms where multiple families would have to navigate care and stressful circumstances while cohabitating — a challenge for patients, families and care teams alike.

“When care team members have to start out their care giving experience apologizing for the room and the fact that you have a roommate, it taints the experience,” said Roane, who oversees the people and teams responsible for providing care to patients.

Every patient room in the Children’s Tower is private, and comes with flexible furniture arrangements for families and customizable lighting.

Private rooms at the Children’s Tower include a single patient bed, large windows overlooking Richmond and the James River, and flexible furniture arrangements for families to comfortably socialize, eat and spend the night as needed. Timberlake, Renner, Roane and Kipp all said that the private rooms and amenities within them offer a completely different, much more positive hospital experience for patients and care team members as well as guardians, parents, and siblings.

“Private rooms help families still feel like families. They don’t have to worry about what the patients and families next to them are doing — they can be their own family unit within a space that feels safe and a little bit more familiar,” Kipp said.

Incorporating private rooms is just one of many design choices that has a hand in helping CHoR deliver on its vision to be a nationally leading children’s health care provider and education and research institution.

On a larger scale, the Children’s Tower and the Children’s Pavilion that came before it both reflect how partnerships like the one between HKS and VCU Health can positively impact peoples’ lives. Roane said the collaborative process of designing, building, and opening the Children’s Tower has galvanized CHoR’s commitment to attract and retain team members that can provide the best care for young people so Richmond will have the brightest future possible.

“I’ve been careful to make sure we don’t rest on our laurels,” Roane said. “Yes, we have the building, and now we have even more responsibility to deliver on our brand promise for children and families.”

AGI North American Headquarters

Case Study

AGI North American Headquarters A Design that Attracts and Connects Top Talent

Naperville, Illinois, USA

The Challenge

AGI is a global leader in the planning, engineering and manufacturing of agricultural systems and solutions for fertilizer, seed, grain, feed and food. For the company’s new North American headquarters, it hoped to attract top talent through great amenities and an environment that would connect employees to the firm’s mission: to supply the world’s food infrastructure while enriching the lives of AGI employees, customers, shareholders and communities.

An added challenge: AGI had seven months from hiring HKS to a move-in date. The design team had to balance an aggressive design and delivery schedule with COVID-era supply chain disruption and long-term client objectives.

The Design Solution

To deliver the project on time and on budget, the HKS design team quickly convened with our consultants and contractor to align the design process with procurement and supply chain restraints. Rather than traditional schematic design and design development presentations, the design team led weekly work sessions that prioritized decision making to align with procurement and construction schedules. This approach freed the design team to focus on aesthetic and material quality while meeting AGI’s budget and schedule goals.

The interior design connects AGI’s headquarters employees to their colleagues and clients in the field through experiential storytelling. Materials including reclaimed wood, corrugated metal, leather and suede allude to AGI’s agrarian roots. Large format, stylized black and white photography adorns the walls of the central community space, communicating AGI’s core brand and global reach in a space dedicated to building stronger corporate culture.

To attract and retain talent, AGI prioritized design for well-being. Informed by criteria included in LEED, WELL and Fitwel certifications, HKS created a design for well-being matrix. This new tool enabled the design team to advise our client on which design strategies best aligned with AGI’s goals, schedule and budget criteria. The headquarters offers plentiful views of nature, biophilic elements, and encourages walking to promote better health.

The Design Impact

Since its move, AGI reports that the office culture improved almost immediately as the company witnessed greater collaboration across multiple departments. Employee headcount showed continuous growth within the first three months of occupancy and is projected to increase, realizing the firm’s objective to recruit top talent.

Project Features

Awards


Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU Children’s Tower

Case Study

Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU Children’s Tower A Hospital Tower that Offers Children and Families a Chance to Heal, Discover, and Grow

Richmond, Virginia, USA

The Challenge

Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR) is dedicated to improving children’s health in the Richmond community. Driven by a passion to put children first, the building expands the existing Children’s Pavilion, creating a consolidated location for pediatric healthcare — an entire city block dedicated to serving the children of Richmond, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the region. The project’s goals included establishing a destination for health and well-being for children of any age, creating a clinical care environment that enhances interprofessional team collaboration, and engaging care team members, patients, families, and the community throughout the design process.

The Design Solution

The team first studied operations at the existing Main Hospital’s seventh floor pediatric unit, shadowing staff throughout their day to understand what worked and what didn’t. An ideal future state was developed based on these findings.

Patients and family members were invited to visioning sessions to hear about their challenges when visiting the hospital. A community design fair engaged more than 100 children and family members in the design process, with an opportunity to vote on concepts, themes and color palettes.

As the building and its departments began to take shape, the project team referred to evidence-based design concepts and processes to inform decision making. The team conducted a literature review in collaboration with the University of Virginia to identify a range of drivers that are transforming pediatric healthcare. The team also created a series of physical and virtual mock-ups so staff could experience and test department and room layouts to help determine the best configuration to support future operational workflows.

Plan analytics and rapid prototyping helped designers optimize adjacencies to reduce travel distances for care team members, while maximizing visibility to patient rooms and among peers. The design team created a full reference guide to use during operational planning and activation that ensured care team members had a grasp of the design intent, strategies and supporting evidence.

Built on a tight urban site, the tower maximizes the available footprint by expanding the upper levels 15 feet wider than the lower levels in three directions. Two additional floors of vertical expansion capacity are included in the structural design of the space above the Pavilion, providing even more growth potential.

The Tower’s colorful interior architecture draw inspiration from the James River and its diverse habitats. Each level features an animal mascot native to the river along with a color theme for improved wayfinding. An interactive shadow play zone, discovery boxes and colorful local artwork add to the playful experience and help reduce the anxiety of a hospital visit.

The Design Impact

The Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU Children’s tower is a success story 30 years in the making. ChoR and VCU Health leadership, staff, and the patients and families they serve came together to develop an oasis for healing. Like the children it cares for, it is designed for future growth.

The building’s private, standardized universal patient rooms offer flexibility for various levels of care and staffing utilization. Rooms are larger to accommodate families and future technologies. Soft space, shell space and future vertical expansion capacity provide ChoR with the ability to grow and adapt to the ever-changing healthcare environment. Dedicated spaces for care team members, including respite rooms, off-stage breakrooms with daylight and views, and workplace choice, ensure that the health and wellbeing of those providing care is a top priority.

Since opening, the new hospital has changed how kids and adolescent young adults experience healthcare in the Richmond region. The whole building and its diverse spaces were designed to suit their needs and desires, making the experience of going to the hospital more comfortable. Post-occupancy performance evaluations will provide insights into design and operational strategies, as well as opportunities to further enhance key elements for continuous improvement, helping the ChoR team continue their legacy of providing world-class care in a place where generations of children and adolescents will come to heal and grow.

Project Features

Awards


HKS in 2023: Projects To Get Excited About

HKS in 2023: Projects To Get Excited About

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

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

Pioneering Research and Designs that Transform Communities

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

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

Stunning New Places to Work and Relax

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

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

Game-changing Venues for Extraordinary Entertainment Experiences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking Ahead

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

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

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

Dan Noble, HKS President and CEO

How First-Class Collegiate Sports Facilities Fuel Winning Teams

How First-Class Collegiate Sports Facilities Fuel Winning Teams

During his 44-year career at Texas Christian University (TCU), T. Ross Bailey oversaw $650 million in construction of athletic facilities at the Fort Worth university. Those shiny new structures, Bailey said, have helped propel the Horned Frogs’ recent on-field success, including this year with the school’s first trip to the College Football Playoffs.

“As we saw facilities grow, we’ve seen athletics grow, whether it be conference football championships, Bowl games, or four straight trips to the College World Series,” said Bailey, retired Senior Associate Director of Athletics at TCU. “That growth of success on the fields, on the courts, in the arena, goes right along with the growth of athletic facilities.”

For college athletics leaders such as Bailey, who still works with TCU Athletics as a consultant, there is little doubt in their minds that first-class facilities translate into victories and championships. They help boost recruiting, practice and game performance, and attracting financial contributions from alumni and other supporters.

HKS has a long history of working with colleges and universities across the country to design and develop top-notch stadiums, arenas, natatoriums and other athletic facilities. In addition to the firm’s partnership with Bailey and TCU, it has ongoing projects at the Universities of Mississippi, Georgia, Western Kentucky, the Air Force Academy and several others.

“Spaces help define us,” said Meggie Meidlinger, an HKS Project Architect. “For collegiate athletes, if you are in a space centered around excellence – excellence of training, excellence of performance, excellence in education, excellence in team camaraderie and support for your school, then that just pushes you out of the gate and onto the field for better player performance.”

Meidlinger, a pitcher on the USA Women’s National Baseball Team, is one of several current and former athletes at HKS who design athletic facilities. She noted that one key to athletic success is to practice like you play. “How you perform on the field is a grand summary of all the little things you do throughout your day to train and practice for the main event,” she said.

Rise to Prominence

Back at TCU, the television broadcast of the team’s last home game of the seasonat the school’s 50,000-seat Amon G. Carter Stadium reached a reported 4.34 million viewers. Recent updates at the historic stadium are the result of a nearly 15-year, multiphase project by the university and HKS to revitalize TCU’s practice and game environments.

“It’s been a really wonderful project, because it coincided with TCU football’s rise to real prominence,” said David Skaggs, HKS Architect and Principal.

Originally a member of the now-defunct Southwest Conference, TCU was invited to join the Big 12 Conference in 2012. “Facilities development was part of why the Big 12 was interested in TCU,” said Bailey. Not only were the university’s sports programs investing in new facilities, “they were filling them,” he said.

But long before those stadium or arena seats are filled with adoring fans, the athletes, coaches, and staff must put in hours of planning, preparation and perseverance. HKS designers are a big part of those pre-game, out-of-the-spotlight processes as well.

Fred Ortiz, Global Practice Director of HKS’ Sports & Entertainment practice and a Principal at the firm, said well-designed facilities help athletes to better prepare, perform and recover.

“There’s a flow to that,” said Ortiz, a former football player at the University of Texas at Arlington. Properly laying out spaces for activities like nourishment, weight training and hydrotherapy “creates those touchpoints that allow the student-athletes and the coaching staff to work in a very efficient and effective way,” he said.

Efficiency is incredibly important for collegiate athletic programs, said Mike Drye, Director of HKS’ Richmond, Virginia, office and a Principal at the firm. The NCAA limits student-athletes’ daily and weekly participation in what the association terms “countable athletically related activities” (CARA), so an athlete’s every minute is valuable.

Drye noted that one advantage of indoor facilities is that they allow teams to avoid weather delays during practices. Virginia Tech Beamer-Lawson Indoor Practice Facility, designed by HKS, and Virginia Military Institute Indoor Training Facility, designed by HKS in association with Richmond-based Commonwealth Architects, are two such examples.

“You see a lightning strike, you don’t have to go into your locker room and wait for it to pass. You just move practice into the indoor facility and keep practicing, so you lose five minutes, not 20,” Drye said.

Indoor training facilities provide collegiate sports teams a range of training opportunities. Pictured: Virginia Military Institute Corps Physical Training Facility in Lexington, VA

Supporting the Whole Athlete

In addition, the more time that streamlined facility designs can give back to a player, the more a sports program is “enhancing the whole person: mind, body, spirit,” said Ortiz.

HKS embarked on a research project in 2021 to learn more about leveraging the built environment to enhance athletic performance, recovery and well-being. An interdisciplinary team including experts from HKS’ Sports & Entertainment and Health practices, and the firm’s Advisory Services group, identified five characteristics of facilities designed support the whole athlete. Such facilities are:

College “athletes are on all the time,” said Drye, a member of the research team. “They finish practice and they run back to class. Having spaces that prioritize the entire health and well-being of athletes…is really important.”

This approach to facility design can include details as fine as installing circadian lighting, which mimics the progression of sunlight throughout the day. Circadian lighting is designed to help regulate individuals’ sleep/wake cycles, so they rest better at night and are more alert during the day – an especially useful feature when players return to a facility late at night from an away game or meet.

Spaces for studying, tutoring, socializing or receiving mental health care “speak to the well-being of athletes on many levels,” Skaggs said. “Athletic departments realize they need to provide these kinds of environments to attract the top-flight student-athletes to their programs.”

Energy and Excitement

Collegiate sports facilities can also impact athletic performance by delivering an extraordinary experience for alumni and other fans.

“When you have a stadium that’s jam packed and it’s loud, that just hypes you up more for your playing experience,” said Meidlinger.

“You want to play for any crowd with energy and excitement,” added Michelle Stevenson, HKS Senior Project Architect and Principal. Stevenson is a former Rice University soccer player who is part of the HKS effort to design a new women’s soccer stadium at the University of Mississippi.

Amon G. Carter Stadium at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth is designed to elevate the fan experience.

She noted that there are several details involved in designing spaces for an elevated fan experience, including lighting, acoustics, restrooms, food service (including local favorites), site lines that work for a variety of events, patron flow and life safety measures.

“These are table stakes,” when it comes to designing collegiate sports facilities, Stevenson said, adding that those facilities must also be “steeped in the tradition of the school.”

This requires an understanding on the part of the design team of, for example, the traditional location of the student section or pep band. Seating can then be designed to ensure that other fans’ views aren’t obstructed by tubas or students who stand and cheer throughout the game.

Designing Beyond Gameday

Well-designed facilities also tailor the game-day experience for different types of fans.

“It’s not all seats,” says Meidlinger. For example, she said that HKS’ latest baseball stadium designs include areas for fans down the left field line, standing room only areas near the home and visitors’ bullpens, and priority seating.

“You’re bringing in everyone who wants to see a game – not just one group of people, but those who want to sit and watch every inning, those who want to talk and hang out and those who want to be loud and annoy the visiting team,” said Meidlinger, who is part of the design team working on a new baseball stadium for the University of Georgia.

And exceptional fan experiences reverberate beyond gameday.

“Stadiums today stand for something, have a personality and become iconic designs for players and fans,” said Meena Krenek, HKS’s Global Practice Director of Venues Interiors and a Principal at the firm. “We are always expressing a team’s brand and emotion in unique ways, so fans can find greater connection to the team and their values,” she said.

“Stadiums today stand for something, have a personality and become iconic designs for players and fans.”

Collegiate athletic facilities enhance a community by serving as venues for collective experiences, both for the campus and the local community around it. Bailey noted that as TCU sports programs rose in prominence, the school’s enrollment also increased.

“And I’ll tell you, man, all of that helps Fort Worth grow,” Bailey said, adding that with Amon G. Carter Stadium, the goal was “not just to build another football stadium. Our goal was to build a destination spot for our fans and alumni.”

HKS’ Meena Krenek Brings Storytelling and Emotion to Interior Spaces

HKS’ Meena Krenek Brings Storytelling and Emotion to Interior Spaces

Meena Krenek’s path to her current role as a Principal and Global Practice Director for Venues Interiors at HKS, began as a child growing up in Reading, Pennsylvania.

It started with simple things: building objects and large structures from LEGOS blocks to sit under or act as a shelter. But it wasn’t until her first architectural class during her freshman year at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville that her passion for the built environment fully flourished when she discovered a class-required book entitled, “Architectural Graphics,” by Frank Ching.

“It’s when I fell in love with design and how impactful graphically representing an idea or space through visual art can be,” Krenek said.

It’s when I fell in love with design and how impactful graphically representing an idea or space through visual art can be.

Learning about one-point perspectives, line weights, hatches and architectural lettering, she immediately went to the bookstore to purchase different pen weights. Sitting in the studio, Krenek practiced and mimicked everything in Ching’s book, feeling as if these forms of visual communications were coming to life.

“I used to get every Dr. Seuss book and draw all these kinds of characters, and I felt the same way when I saw this architecture book because I was like, ‘I have to draw everything in this book and feel the spaces and characters,” she said.

Krenek has long been eager to understand the human experience in the built environment and is drawn to the way people react, identify with, and understand space and place. Her innate curiosity for the world around her stemmed from her upbringing as a child raised by immigrant parents. They taught her to have compassion for others who might be different from her, and her ability to put herself in the shoes of others to see the world through their eyes helps her to this day in developing stronger client relationships, cherish a lens of empathy, and improved user experiences.

 “One thing about my childhood that my parents gave me was a drive for success, the mental fortitude to thrive regardless of barriers and to be open-minded,” Krenek said.

And she offers similar advice to those coming along behind her: “It doesn’t matter what people look like or where they come from but be very cognizant of bringing people into your life that are different than you because everyone has a unique story you can learn from.”

Building Her Personal Brand

Using her childhood love for books with strong graphics and illustration, art is a major component of her design process, melding art and science into one. As an award-winning design director known for transforming clients’ companies, she uses experiential design to implement emotional connections with space. She has a keen ability to infuse her clients’ business and culture into branding and design that focuses on the human experience, bringing a unique and unforgettable dynamic energy to all her projects.

Krenek understands the importance of interior environments that are human-centric. She focuses on integrating architectural and interior spaces to tell a story and encourage guests to embark on a unique brand journey with every visit. By immersing herself in the client’s needs, she creates solutions that positively influence their business drivers and financial value.

As an architect and designer, she is constantly thinking of the next steps in digital and physical technology and seeking out what are innovative ways to connect the two. Truly understanding what consumers and patrons are seeking today and tomorrow allows for innovative environments that unleash participation within audiences. Her experience and insight have helped make her an industry leader and she has authored many articles for major publications such as the New York Times, Psychology Today and Monocle on Design.

According to Krenek, everyone must stand for something. She says that a point of view may align with another person or company, but it is a person’s individual brand that they bring to the table.

“If you understand your personal brand, you understand what you stand for, what you want to be known for and how you’re going to do that,” she said. “Then you can really do some significant things.”

She also strongly believes that individuals should be constantly moving towards their directive on how they want to be seen, whether that is through words, clothes, posting on social media, how one invests their time, or the work they are designing and creating.

“All our work represents ourselves, and we have to put out the point of view that we stand for something and every day, every encounter, we have to remember to make sure people see that aspect of us,” Krenek said.

Her strong sense of personal branding led her to focus her expertise on brand integration and experiential design. And she is so confident about the importance of a brand that she teaches a class on personal branding that recognizes how everyone is “uniquely different.”

The Move to HKS

A lover of large design firms, Krenek saw HKS as a place where she could continue to make a mark in the industry and flourish within the company.

“You can call anyone at any time here at HKS and someone will have the answer to something that you’re looking for, and that’s pretty fantastic to see how much intellect in deep research and reach that we have as a company,” said Krenek, who joined the firm in June.

When she began building relationships with the HKS team and learned about the Global Interiors Director of Venues opportunity, she connected how her expertise could influence the global brand of interiors to provide experiential design with a lens of understanding macro and micro trends in the industry and designing iconic spaces that build memories. She is enthusiastic about the importance of using her experience in environmental psychology, trend forecasting and providing clients, fans, visitors or eventgoers with a sensory and brand experience when they walk through venues.

Mark Williams, Global Sector Director, Venues, and Krenek see the world of interior spaces within these environments as widely untapped, allowing them to redefine what they are doing- creating a greater point of view and developing a brand with a strong narrative for the future.

“Our HKS Venues Team is excited to bring Meena into our HKS Family,” said Williams. “Her energy, influence and inventive style couldn’t align better with the impact we are currently having on sports and entertainment globally.”

Krenek understands that Venues today is more than a place for like-minded communities to come together, and HKS is designing experiences for today’s consumers. She pushes to design projects where occupants feel a connection to a relatable human centric story and values.

“Our spaces, venues in general, are going to be the types of spaces that are going to encourage a community to feel connected and like they belong to something greater than themselves,” Krenek said. “There’s a lot about the experience and the subculture behind the experiences we design for that have a much deeper meaning than just designing a kit of parts for a stadium or an airport. We are designing for an experience that has meaning, inspires, educates, brings value and has a personality.”

She sees her position as not just fulfilling a role, but an opportunity to expand the industry. In a world where people get much of their content through handheld devices, she believes interiors must design for the new ways people are seeking to participate in the interior architecture, feel an intention or purpose, and provide a future forward experience in every aspect.

“I’m looking forward to driving our design work to new and profound places with our exceptional clients that are seeking to influence their business with trailblazing design work,” Krenek said. “HKS is poised for the future for being highly relevant with an empathic lens, for empowering our clients with business success and on the frontier with design creativity. I am thrilled about positioning interiors with a strong experiential entity that will elevate our practice in unfathomable ways.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commercial Real Estate Re-evaluation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Changing Job Markets Prompt New Design Needs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What “Mixed-Use” Means Moving Forward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Integrated Design Approaches for Stronger Outcomes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

HKS Announces New Mexico City Leadership Team and Office Move

HKS Announces New Mexico City Leadership Team and Office Move

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

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

Twenty Years in Mexico City 

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

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

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

Expanding our commitment to the city, region, and country 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Veinte años en la Ciudad de México

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

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

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

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

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

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

HKS Expands Experiential Branding Practice Led by Industry Veteran Tony LaPorte

HKS Expands Experiential Branding Practice Led by Industry Veteran Tony LaPorte

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tony LaPorte

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Years After COVID, Here’s What We’ve Learned as Designers

Two Years After COVID, Here’s What We’ve Learned as Designers

COVID-19 has officially been in the world for more than two years. During that time it has changed the way all of us live, work, play and think.

Tragically, it has also killed more than 6 million people worldwide. Health experts and scientists agree that many of those deaths could have been avoided. As the life continues in a world in which COVID will likely be a permanent companion, architects, designers and engineers have acquired many lessons in the past two years about what steps our industry can take — now and in the future — to make our lives safer and more comfortable. Here are a few things we learned at HKS:

1- Use What You’ve Got

It’s too costly to build new hospitals for the next pandemic, so converting existing spaces quickly is key for architects and designers. HKS-designed Orlando Regional Medical Center in Florida offers one blueprint how such blueprints can be done successfully. 

2 – Prepare for the Surge

In a pandemic, every available space – from lobbies to hallways – may become emergency treatment areas. That means that certain medically necessary infrastructure components – oxygen, medical gasses, pipes and wiring should be close at all times, even if generally hidden from view. And water, electricity and medical hookups should be available to quickly convert parking lots or nearby structures into field hospitals.

3 – Staff Needs Love, Too

The pandemic has clearly shown us that health care workers are a treasure and must be treated as such. They need ample space to unwind and relieve the stress that comes with their jobs. Designing spaces that give them plenty of room to relax and recharge, away from the hustle and bustle of patient care, is necessary. For example, spaces that allow privacy and allow staffers to control sound and lighting would be helpful, along with rooms with windows that overlook gardens or other serene settings.

4 – There’s No Place Like Home 

The pandemic has forever changed how we work, or more to the point, where we work. COVID forced employees to shift to working from home – or places other than their main offices – and many of them discovered that they not only liked the flexibility of doing so, but they were also more productive. One finding from HKS’ extensive internal research bolsters this point. The findings revealed that work satisfactions jumped 12% for employees who have control over their home conditions, such as the ability to close a door to block out noise. HKS used this internal research to develop a flexible work from home policy for its employees that became a model for the AEC industry. Firms will likely need to maintain this flexibility going forward to retain, obtain and reward its workforce.

5. Office Work isn’t Dead Yet

While it’s true that working from home is more acceptable than ever, many companies will still need employees in the office for a variety of reasons. And when those workers are there, they will need to feel healthy and safe. Again, HKS research helped provide insights into designing for a safe office space. Recommendations include having teams work in their own “neighborhoods,” creating work “shifts,” so that certain amount of people are in the office at a given time, mobile infrastructure and seamless technology so that processes are consistent at home and remotely, holding meetings outside when possible and adequate spacing of desks. But even with working in the office, flexibility will remain the key component.

6. Safe at Home

Because more work will continue to be done at home, residential spaces will have to adapt. Single family homes will obviously have more options and leeway to do this. But multifamily residential spaces will face unique challenges, in large part due to size and affordability limitations. During the height of the COVID pandemic, HKS worked on possible solutions for future apartment construction. Among the many considerations: flexible workspaces adjustable surfaces, adequate access to light and air in all the spaces, finding a way to “hide” workspaces when they aren’t being used so that employees won’t always feel “on the clock.”

7. Air is Not Rare

No matter who you are or where you go, you’ll need air. The pandemic often put that basic need in jeopardy. Designers have figure out ways to funnel breathable air into any space from office buildings to shopping areas to airports to sports arenas. Our HKS office in downtown Chicago uses displacement air distribution ventilation technology to help keep the air clean. At the open-air HKS-designed SoFi Stadium, designers minimized air pollutants there by maximizing natural ventilation through operable panels, using the building skin to increase occupant comfort and creating “grand canyons” – large, landscaped pathways, gardens and patios. Airports can use a scaled approach to ventilation to help remove airplane exhaust fumes that historically contribute to poor air quality.

Fast Company Places HKS Among 2022 World’s Most Innovative Companies

Fast Company Places HKS Among 2022 World’s Most Innovative Companies

HKS is ranked No. 4 in the architecture category on Fast Company’s 2022 World’s Most Innovative Companies list. The annual ranking honors business making the biggest impact on their industries and culture with some of the most inspiring accomplishments of the 21st century.

“The world’s most innovative companies play an essential role in addressing the most pressing issues facing society, whether they’re fighting climate change by spurring decarbonization efforts, ameliorating the strain on supply chains, or helping us reconnect with one another over shared passions,” said Fast Company Deputy Editor David Lidsky.

The world’s most innovative companies play an essential role in addressing the most pressing issues facing society.

As COVID-19 drastically reshaped the way we live, work and play, HKS’ most innovative recent work focused on people’s well-being as we continued to create high-performing environments that support physical and mental health. And when the pandemic forced us to become acutely aware of the quality of air around us, we delivered solutions for breathing easier, by design.

Dallas’ HALL Arts Residences— the first residential project in Texas to register for WELL Multifamily Certification — exemplifies how sustainable design improves air quality and overall quality of life at home. Our Future of Work research and Chicago studio’s Living Lab demonstrate just how much our working environments can support our wellness and enhance productivity. And our award-winning design for SoFi Stadium in California showcases how even the largest, most complex projects can include natural ventilation, restore the environment and foster community connections.

The World’s Most Innovative Companies ranking provides a snapshot and roadmap for the future of innovation across the most dynamic sectors of the economy. This is the first time HKS has made the list, and the firm was also honored by Fast Company in 2021 as a Best Workplace for Innovators.

HKS President and CEO Dan Noble appreciates the recognition of the global firm’s more than 1,300 employees including architects, interior designers, researchers, communicators and more.

“I see our teams fulfilling our strategic vision to ‘think limitlessly’ on a daily basis through our design work, and I believe we have some of the best creative minds propelling our industry forward,” Noble said. “It’s incredibly rewarding as a leader to see this recognized by an external panel of experts at Fast Company through this award.”

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