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


Five Design Trends Shaping Communities in 2024

Five Design Trends Shaping Communities in 2024

Advances in artificial intelligence, modular construction and other methodologies will bring renewed energy to the architecture, engineering and construction industry in 2024 despite economic and environmental challenges.  

In response to — and at the forefront of — current real estate and design trends, global design firm HKS is striving to revive and strengthen communities worldwide. In 2024, HKS will continue to create healthy, resilient, dynamic places that support peak performance and bring people joy. 

1 – Spaces for Healthy Living and Learning 

HKS is leveraging the firm’s research and health design expertise to help people navigate ongoing and emerging crises in health care, student health and well-being, and senior living. 

The Sanford Health Virtual Care Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota is one of several exciting HKS health care projects opening in 2024. The telehealth center will improve access to care for rural patients, a medically underserved population.  

Clinical workforce shortages will be a continuing challenge for health systems in the year ahead, according to McKinsey & Company. HKS is designing facilities to address the health care staffing crisis. To further this work, the firm is partnering with design brand MillerKnoll on a study to identify factors that contribute to nurse burnout and to learn how these factors relate to the built environment. The study findings will be published this year. 

This year HKS will also participate in an impact study to gauge how the design of Uplift Luna Preparatory School, which is scheduled to open in Dallas in January, affects student outcomes. HKS’ design of the school was informed by research into how design can support social and emotional learning.  

At the 2024 Environments for Aging conference, HKS and industry partners will present a case study of Elevate Senior Living’s Clearwater, Florida community. HKS’ design for Elevate Clearwater is intended to help address the senior living affordability crisis. The number of middle-income older adults in need of affordable care and housing options is swiftly rising, as demonstrated by a study into the “forgotten middle” senior cohort, by research group NORC at the University of Chicago

2 – Commercial Office Reinvention 

It’s clear by now that hybrid and remote work are here to stay. Changes to work habits over the last four years caused major fluctuations in corporate real estate portfolios, leading to increased vacancy rates and diminishing valuations worldwide. But according to Deloitte’s 2024 commercial real estate outlook, newer, higher quality assets are outperforming older spaces and new construction projects designed to accommodate hybrid work strategies are on the rise.  

HKS commercial interior designers are creating offices with hybrid-ready technologies and attractive amenities for companies like Textron Systems in Arlington, Virginia and AGI in Naperville, Illinois. HKS’ advisory groups have also teamed with influential companies, including CoreLogic, to develop strategies and design concepts for their robust asset portfolios that help them keep up with the evolving real estate landscape. 

The firm’s industry-leading research on brain healthy workplaces has yielded exciting discoveries about how offices that prioritize employee well-being can be designed, delivered and operated. Piloting strategies in the firm’s own real estate portfolio and advocating for “breaking the workstation,” HKS researchers and designers are setting new standards for inclusive, productive office environments. In 2024, HKS will present these ideas to a global audience at South by Southwest® (SXSW®) and continue to design workplaces for new modes of working. 

3 – New Mixed-Use and Planning Match Ups

Fluctuations in the commercial office sector and retail are providing new opportunities in mixed-use development. PwC and ULI’s Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2024 report indicates that real estate investors are increasingly diversifying or pivoting their portfolios to counteract disuse of downtown offices and regional malls.  

A shift toward developments with a variety of localized services and amenities is occurring — and HKS designers and planners are at the forefront of creating exciting new projects with unique anchors. In Hangzhou, China, the 2023 Asian Games Athlete Village Waterfront Mixed-Use is becoming a prime destination for retail and entertainment, not unlike HKS-designed SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park in Los Angeles with its newest attraction, Cosm. Beyond these new mixes, HKS designers are creating dynamic properties such as NoMaCNTR in Washington, DC, to join hotel and residential uses — a combination on the rise in many major cities. 

In 2024, HKS is expanding its ability to serve communities with mixed-use planning and design, fostering sustainable growth for cities in the years to come. The Austin Light Rail team — consisting of Austin Transit Partnership, HKS, UNStudio and Gehl — is set to finalize design guidelines for proposed station locations that will provide opportunities for Austin residents to live in more affordable locations and promote urban expansion into less dense areas. As the transit network expands, it will unlock real estate opportunities and give rise to a variety of diverse and exciting mixed-use properties. This work complements the Transit Oriented Developments projects HKS is working on to elevate the health and well-being of our communities nationwide.  

HKS designers are also set to craft a new master plan for the Georgia World Congress Center’s 220-acre campus in downtown Atlanta this year. The cohesive, sustainability-driven master plan will create a legible pedestrian-friendly environment that maximizes economic potential of the convention center campus. This will integrate the campus’ global canvas with surrounding historic neighborhoods using a comprehensive framework. 

4 – Adaptive Reuse Rising 

In their report on 2024 real estate trends, PwC and ULI write that that “the movement to convert existing buildings from office to multifamily (or any other asset class, really), offers a meaningful achievement in saving carbon emissions.”  

As part of HKS’ efforts towards sustainable and resilient design, the firm is igniting adaptive reuse for a variety of building types, such as ParkwayHealth Gleneagles Chengdu Hospital in China, a tertiary care facility created from a former shopping center. HKS’ design for Mount Sinai Beth Israel Comprehensive Behavioral Health Center in New York City reinvigorated a structure built in 1898 to create a new destination for behavioral health. HKS designers in London renovated a 19th-century office building into a 21st-century clinic. And for an expansion of Rusk State Hospital in Texas, HKS reinvented the hospital campus, which opened in 1883 to house a penitentiary, into a therapeutic and dignified behavioral health care setting. 

In a highly poetic adaptive reuse project, HKS reimagined a defunct airport terminal, which dated to the 1940s, as a creative, contemporary workspace for online travel company Expedia Group. 

In 2024, HKS will continue to advance adaptive reuse design across different markets and geographies. 

5 – Creating a Better World through ESG

Balancing holistic sustainability — including decarbonization, climate resilience, and equitable design practices — with business goals is imperative for commercial real estate investors according to 2024 outlooks by both Deloitte and PwC. Leading the architecture and design industries to a brighter future, HKS is committed to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). 

HKS leaders recently demonstrated the depth of the firm’s ESG efforts through thought leadership — speaking at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, the United Nations Science Summit on Brain Capital, and at the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) conference, where HKS was also a Diamond Sponsor. 

Driven by ESG goals, HKS designers strive to enhance human and environmental well-being through the places they create day in and day out. The firm’s growing portfolio of high-performing projects includes the world’s first WELL-certified airport facility, a COTE Top-Ten Award-winning campus in California and a IIDA Global Excellence Award finalist hospital in Saudi Arabia to name a few. In 2024, HKS architects, sustainable design leaders and advisors will continue developing building portfolio sustainability guidelines and high-performance designs for major tech companies and educational institutions.  

HKS will also align with the Science Based Targets Initiative, which recently established building sector guidelines, to ensure the firm’s carbon neutrality goals are science-backed and can be properly benchmarked. The firm will provide voluntary disclosures about its offsets portfolio to meet regulatory requirements, enhance transparency and improve accountability. 

Most excitingly, 2024 marks the 10-year anniversary of Citizen HKS, a firmwide initiative that impacts lives and drives change through design, community service and financial philanthropy. HKS designers around the world will celebrate the pro-bono design work and service projects they have contributed to through Citizen HKS and re-commit to enhancing their communities for years to come. 

The Place at Honey Springs

Case Study

The Place at Honey Springs A New, Inviting Future for a Historic Dallas Community

Dallas, Texas, USA

The Challenge

The Joppa community was founded in 1872 as a freedmen’s town in present-day South Dallas. Today, the community is isolated from the rest of the city by the borders of a highway, a river, railroad tracks and industrial sites. The neighborhood — also known as Joppee — is a food desert and lacks access to city infrastructure such as grocery stores or sports facilities.  

Citizen HKS partnered with the Melissa Pierce nonprofit organization to revive the abandoned 1950s Melissa Pierce School into a vibrant multipurpose center that reflects the rich history and character of Joppa.

The Design Solution

After extensive community engagement, the design team developed The Place at Honey Springs, a multipurpose center that embodies the vibrant spirit of Joppa’s residents. The center is named for the Joppa community’s original name of Honey Springs, which was annexed into the City of Dallas in 1955.

The Place at Honey Springs features several indoor and outdoor multipurpose areas for community gatherings and dining. A recording studio and classrooms for after-school programs and continued education encourage creativity and lifelong learning.  

The center also boasts a variety of opportunities for neighbors to pursue active lifestyles, including a soccer field, basketball court, exercise stations, open green areas and an indoor swimming pool. Further, community members will have access to fresh produce from multiple aeroponic gardens, and there is dedicated outdoor space for a pop-up clinic to deliver medical services. 

The Design Impact

The Place at Honey Springs stands as a testament to Joppa’s enduring history while equipping the community with tools to design its future. By reimagining the original school building, the new community center helps preserve Joppa’s identity, but is also more sustainable than a brand-new structure.  

The new sloped roof allows for the collection of rainwater to irrigate the center’s native landscaping, and the addition of new trees helps to mitigate the urban heat island effect. If incorporated, solar panels, minimal glazing on the south side of the building and other passive strategies could reduce both energy use and operating costs. 

Project Features

Awards


Jeremiah Community

Case Study

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

Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA

The Challenge

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

The Design Solution

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

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

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

The Design Impact

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

Project Features

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

Peg Phillips, Micah, Servant-Leader of Neighbor Care

Patrick Kennedy

StationSoccer

Case Study

StationSoccer Building Social Infrastructure with the Power of Play

Atlanta, Georgia, USA 

The Challenge

Like in many large American cities, neighborhoods in Atlanta are divided by a variety of factors such as race and income, and low-income neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color have historically had less access to resources than wealthy and white neighborhoods. This includes less access to sports facilities and green spaces, as well as less access to pay-to-play sports leagues.  

Global design firm HKS collaborated with public and private interests through its pro bono practice, Citizen HKS, to help bridge this gap with an unlikely pairing: transit stations and soccer.   

The Design Solution

HKS joined the partnership of Soccer in the Streets, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), the city of Atlanta’s Department of City Planning and the Atlanta United Foundation to help develop a cohesive vision for StationSoccer: a multi-site master plan to integrate youth soccer fields into underutilized land in and near 10 MARTA stations around the city. The soccer fields host the “League of Stations,” a free youth soccer league.  

The HKS project team used extensive geographic information system (GIS) data to identify distinctions in factors such as demographics, walkability, land use and per capita income, but also engaged with each community to gain a wholistic understanding of the character of each neighborhood.  

Based on the research, HKS developed a unique program for each station that honors and serves the identity and culture of the community. For example, the neighborhood around Kensington Station has a large number of immigrants, so artist Kevin Bongang was commissioned to design a mural on the asphalt around the soccer field to represent the mosaic of cultures in the area. At East Lake Station, bike racks are also sculptural objects to highlight the prominence of biking in the community.  

StationSoccer also offers educational and community programming at its fields. Stations may feature a community garden, a learning center inside a decommissioned MARTA rail car, a mobile health truck or event space, all of which are included in a “kit of parts” that allows each station to be customized for each neighborhood’s unique needs. Each station also features benches made of Golden Spikes that pay homage to Atlanta United as a benefactor and Atlanta’s history as a railroad hub.  

The Design Impact

The League of Stations is the world’s first transit soccer league and now impacts 5,000 children in Atlanta. Because StationSoccer fields are built into transit itself, they’re accessible to not only those whole live near a particular station, but those who have access to MARTA’s entire service area. 

Soccer in the Streets has partnered with schools for years, but the new StationSoccer fields allow students from nearby schools to join a recreational league to play soccer outside of school. According to Soccer in the Streets’ annual impact reports, parents are thankful for the opportunity for their children to spend time outside and be active, especially as the world emerges from the COVD-19 pandemic.  

Once neglected greyfield land, StationSoccer fields are now vibrant community spaces that promote healthy lifestyles and amplify the identities of the neighborhoods they serve. StationSoccer is healthier for the environment, too. The heat island effect and runoff are reduced by replacing impervious pavement with pervious surfaces and with the infusion of nature and shade.  

StationSoccer has gained national attention with a visit from Pete Buttigieg, U.S. secretary of transportation. StationSoccer is now featured on the U.S. Department of Transportation website as an example of a successful transit-oriented development that combines transit, wellness and sport while cultivating healthy communities. The StationSoccer masterplan and design process are also featured in the AIA Equitable Communities Resource as a premier example of how architects can help create equitable communities.   

Draw+Play Engagement Session

Project Features

Awards

East Lake Station
Lindbergh Station
Kensington Station
Kensington Station

Wuxi Golden Bay Industrial Park Southern Starting Zone

Case Study

Wuxi Golden Bay Industrial Park Southern Starting Zone Ancient Cultural Heritage and Future Intelligence Find a Way to Coexist

Wuxi, China

The Challenge

The challenge faced in the design of the Golden Bay Industrial Park in Wuxi is to create a modern and vibrant urban industrial complex that attracts high-tech enterprises while preserving the city’s cultural heritage and emphasizing green and sustainable development. The goal is to integrate the old city with the new development, promote the fusion of industry and urban life, and explore innovative office spaces that foster collaboration and interaction.

The Design Solution

There are three key trends in the modern workplace: smart office, iconic office, and green office. The campus is divided into three main blocks, each with its own pleasant courtyard space, seamlessly linked by bridges and walkways. The centerpiece of the HKS-led design is a 120-meter iconic tower on Block A, facing the Jin Kui Park and serving as a gateway to the city. The park incorporates greenery and waterfront landscapes into the courtyards, creating a harmonious blend of nature and industry.

The concept of “金匮云盒” (Golden Treasury Cloud Box) is inspired by the city’s cultural heritage and envisioned a future with intelligent technology, green ecology, and cultural display. The design aims to provide diverse office spaces catering to different types of businesses and encourage interaction through public open spaces. The rooftop “City Living Room” offered a panoramic view of the Jin Kui Park, becoming a landmark space for the community.

The Design Impact

The design of the project is expected to have significant impacts on the development of the Wuxi Economic Development District. By promoting a mix of smart, iconic, and green workplace, the campus can attract a wide range of enterprises, from large corporations to innovative startups, fostering a dynamic and vibrant business environment. The integration of the old city with the new development and the emphasis on low-carbon principles demonstrate a commitment to sustainable urban growth. The project’ focus on energy-efficient technologies, green materials, and shared resources contributes to reducing carbon emissions and promoting environmental responsibility.

Project Features


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

OCT Nanjing Yangtze Riverfront Mixed-Use 

Case Study

OCT Nanjing Yangtze Riverfront Mixed-Use  Yangtze River Mixed-Use Development Fuses the New with the Old

Nanjing, China

The Challenge

The project is located in Nanjing, a magnificent and prominent ancient capital with a modern cityscape spanning both sides of the Yangtze River. The entire project covers an area of nearly 500,000 square meters (5.38 million square feet), with a total development volume of over one million square meters (10.76 million square feet) above ground. Along the approximately 1.8-kilometer (1.1-mile) riverbank, the client hopes to create a typical model of integrating commerce and cultural tourism destination to meet the demands of high-end consumption in the region, attract visitors from outside the area, and initiate a new urban commercial experience. 

The client aims to build a waterfront urban life hub that includes various formats such as stand-alone headquarters office buildings, comprehensive commercial spaces, outdoor and indoor gardens, boutique apartments, upscale hotels and cultural and creative spaces. The challenge for the designers is to satisfy a high level of diversity and complexity in functional requirements while also creating a cultural and tourism landmark. In addition, the project called for providing a high-quality living space that aligns with the city’s character. 

The Design Solution

The overall planning of the project aims to create a public space for leisure and cultural tourism. The specific functional spaces are also designed to be open, emphasizing the architectural aesthetics and public accessibility. As a result, the project’s overall appearance resembles an “urban forest.” The design process of the buildings is akin to ancient garden-making, incorporating both the worldly and pure aspects. 

The project is a forward-looking exploration of future community public and attractive spaces, and landscape-oriented areas. Notable planning highlights include a clear single circulation system with multiple entrances, blurred boundaries between buildings and landscapes to emphasize the integration of design and commerce, themed plaza spaces to enhance pedestrian flow, and a landscape-oriented functional layout to maximize the added value of landscape-dependent spaces. This creates a rhythmic urban skyline and highlights the central axis space with the space needle as its core. As one moves from the riverbank toward the inland, the building density gradually increases, and the landscape progressively blends in. 

The tallest and largest space capsule Ferris wheel in China — and the first domestic immersive experience space capsule Ferris wheel with a height of 139 meters (456 feet)— is located on the main axis of the site, serving as the focal landmark of the sprawling project. The shopping center on Block C creates a fascinating spatial experience, dedicated to building an extra-large ecological and artistic shopping center with an immersive experience. Inspired by ancient paper folding fans, the building uses different materials to create multiple diamond facets on the facades and entrance canopies, using light to create a splendid effect and a fashionable showcase. The sculptural form of the entire podium building attracts the attention of passersby from various angles. Its twisting and turning contours along the river create maximized viewing interfaces and multi-level terraces. The connected terraces form rows of shops and restaurants, resulting in a vibrant and dynamic functional space, where various business formats intersect, mimicking the flow of the adjacent waterfront. 

The Design Impact

The project combines diverse urban functions to bring convenience and a high-quality living environment to the local area. The design not only serves as a large-scale urban development but also embodies the cultural vitality of Nanjing, the aesthetic of riverside living and the vision for urban planning. Inspired by the   city’s spirit, the project blends commerce, culture and tourism to create a vibrant space that enriches the city’s fabric and enhances the overall urban experience. It is more than just a real estate venture; it reflects the city’s essence and aspirations. 

Project Features


Making Urban Spaces Equitable Places for All

Making Urban Spaces Equitable Places for All

Inequity is often viewed through the wide lens of socioeconomic and racial disparity, but it manifests itself in more places than one might expect. It’s built into every aspect of a person’s daily environment — even, for example, in something as mundane as the amount of time it takes to get to the grocery store. 

As a part of its quarterly Limitless series, global design firm HKS recently hosted a panel to discuss inequity in the built environment and the cooperative effort necessary to improve it.  

Dan Noble, HKS President and CEO, gave opening remarks. Erin Peavey, Health and Well-being Design Leader at HKS, moderated the panel, which examined the city of Dallas as a setting for the creation of healthier and more equitable development and redevelopment. Panelists were Dr. Maria Martinez-Cosio, Dr. Christopher J. Dowdy, Dallas City Council Member Jaynie Schultz and Murphy D. Cheathum II. Dr. Lorin Carter, founder and CEO of C Suite Equity Consulting, was the keynote speaker.  

“A lot of people don’t intuitively understand the relationship between health, well-being and the built environment,” Peavey said. “They don’t understand that the way our cities are designed is this constant underlying influence.” 

Inequity Manifests Itself in More Ways Than You Might Expect

As the Dallas area experiences a population boom that could earn it the title of the third-largest metropolitan area in the country in the next decade, its southern half hasn’t experienced the same rapid development as the northern half. Much of that area was labeled as “hazardous” by the now-defunct Home Owners’ Loan Corporation, a federal agency founded in the 1930s that is often viewed as the creator of the practice of redlining. Redlining is a discriminatory practice of withholding loans or other financial resources from neighborhoods based on residents’ race or ethnicity, marking them with redlines that show their status. 

The inequity that oppressive systems like redlining have created is, in many ways, limitless. In her keynote speech, Carter expanded on the concept of social determinants of health.  

“This is not high blood pressure or whether or not you have asthma,” Carter said. “These are all things (like) … where you’re born, how you grow, you work, you live and age, and all the wider sets of forces, systems and constructs that we live within … that impact our overall quality of life.”   

Carter presented a series of maps that illustrated a variety of social determinants of health in the Dallas metroplex. The maps closely resembled the ‘30s-era redlining map, with the most negatively affected areas in present-day Dallas having been marked as undesirable for development nearly 100 years ago.  

For example, according to a 2010 map by the city’s Office of Economic Development, almost all prominent business headquarters are located on Dallas’ north side, with many located in areas that are difficult for residents of South Dallas to reach without personal transportation. A job proximity index map showed that residents of South Dallas and parts of East Dallas live near significantly fewer job opportunities than residents of North Dallas, and another map showed that most racially/ethnically concentrated areas of poverty (R/ECAPS) are in South Dallas.  

Carter also highlighted a study by University of Texas health systems that revealed major differences in life expectancies by ZIP code in Dallas and demonstrated an interactive map with color-coded sections of average life expectancy.  

Dowdy, Vice President of Strategy and Larry James Fellow at Forest Forward, also noted the study’s findings.  

“Depending on where you’re born here in Dallas, that can take five or 10 years off your life, which is arbitrary and horrific,” Dowdy said.  

Cooperative Solutions for Building Equity in Urban Environments

The panel agreed that extensive collaboration during the design process with the communities a development plans to serve is vital to building equity in those communities.  

“Sometimes we forget that communities and residents that live and will live with the changes are also experts in what they need,” said Martinez-Cosio, interim dean of the College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Arlington.  

Martinez-Cosio also noted that although efforts to include community stakeholders in the development process are well-intentioned, some burden residents more than they give them a voice.  

“We’re all billing for our time (to attend these community meetings), but we expect residents to sit and attend these night meetings without daycare, without getting time off work,” Martinez-Cosio said. “We expect them to do all this to rectify part of what we’ve created.” 

Dowdy noted that marginalized communities may not trust developers or local government after being let down and “de-resourced” in the past, so it may take years to cultivate the relationships necessary for true collaborative and equitable development.  

“We need to think about all the things people need, not just drop in a shiny project and say we’re done,” Dowdy said. “We need to think about how to, over years and years, develop trust and struggle alongside and think through different strategies so that we can develop the cultural and economic enterprises that are going to make the most sense for that neighborhood to give them power over the things they’re going to enjoy.” 

Cheathum, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager for the Americas at global commercial real estate services firm CBRE, noted the power of the private sector in helping to effect change. 

“Private business, private equity and private investment are always going to lead the way,” Cheathum said. “Government policy is great. Nonprofit is great, but we all know private dollars lead government policy.”  

The Dallas City Council is contributing to addressing inequity in the built environment through its Racial Equity Plan adopted in 2022, said Schultz, City Council member for District 11 and chair of the City Council’s Workforce, Education and Equity committee.  

The plan’s “racial equity indicators were our checkup. Now we know the prognosis, and we are beginning to have conversations that, for years, we avoided as a city,” Schultz said. 

What Individuals Can Do to Help

While the panel explored the need for a well-rounded, collaborative effort among city leaders to build equity in underserved communities, individuals — especially young people — can still make an impact on their own.  

Dowdy highlighted how easy it can be for passionate designers to unintentionally lose their spark for meaningful work when faced with the potential to earn large sums of money. He called on designers to keep in touch with the desire to make a difference.  

“A life in solidarity with the people who really deserve your attention is a life repairing the damage we’ve done to these communities,” Dowdy said. “It’s up to us to learn our trades but also to keep our character.”  

Cheathum, who now works for one of the world’s largest real estate services and investment firms, said he didn’t know real estate development was an industry until he was 27 years old. He believes professionals can help bring sustainable wealth to low-income communities by exposing people to professions they wouldn’t ordinarily encounter. 

“What you all can do individually is show people — who look like you or don’t look like you — your profession, the skills it takes to do what you do and put them on a path to go generate that revenue and income, and then reinvest that income wherever they choose to live.”  

View the full panel discussion below.

Watch Recording

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.”

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

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


Skyiera Mixed-Use Master Plan

Case Study

Skyiera Mixed-Use Master Plan Creating a Cultural Destination within New Cairo

New Cairo, Egypt

The Challenge

The client noticed a lack of connectivity and community-focused destinations within the sporadically developed New Cairo. HKS was tasked with designing a masterplan that supported the creation of inviting and functional public spaces with the right amenities and cultural attractions. The well-being of residents and the success of a region was dependent on the development of vibrant and livable communities.

The Design Solution

In response, HKS designed a new 1 million square meter (11.7 million sf) masterplan that incorporated a variety of uses such as a business hub, world-class retail center and two hotels with branded residences to attract a diverse range of visitors.

One of the most important elements of the masterplan is Nile Park, with plenty of green space, seating areas, playgrounds and recreational facilities. It serves as a vital community resource, providing a place for people to gather, relax and enjoy the outdoors. Within the park, a 2,000-seat performing arts theatre serves as a cultural destination and hosts a wide variety of performances and events throughout the year, becoming a key anchor for the community.

The Design Impact

Skyiera creates a vibrant and livable community that includes the infrastructure, amenities and attractions necessary to support a diverse range of residents and visitors. Providing spaces for work, play and cultural enrichment, the masterplan would be a major step towards building a sustainable and successful community in New Cairo.

Project Features


New HKS-Designed Hokkaido Nippon Fighters Baseball Stadium Opens 

New HKS-Designed Hokkaido Nippon Fighters Baseball Stadium Opens 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dallas Lutheran School

Case Study

Dallas Lutheran School School Design Supports Community Recovery and Student Success

Dallas, Texas

The Challenge

On the evening of October 20th, 2019, Dallas Lutheran School (DLS) was hit by a tornado that ripped through the north Dallas area. Classes were not in session and no one at the school was injured, but the main classroom building sustained significant damage, rendering it unusable. With two buildings boarded up and classes operating out of portable buildings, DLS was at risk of losing significant enrollment. The school quickly moved forward with a cleanup and recovery, under the theme, “Rise up, rebuild, rejoice,” based on Nehemiah 2:20.

The Design Solution

HKS organized visioning sessions with students, faculty, and families to determine what they wanted at the rebuilt school. The excitement generated by those meetings bought the school much-needed time and trust from the concerned parties. Ultimately, the new campus responded to the positive feedback from students’ recent experience using the temporary portable buildings. The engagement process revealed the students liked the outdoor circulation and its impact on their emotional well-being.

The design solution creates a beautiful new front plaza and building elevation to replace the one lost in the tornado. Students enter the school by crossing through the new gate and going through a series of courtyards dedicated to them and their education. The effect is as if the classrooms extend directly to the outside. From all the rooms, the visual connection with nature serves as the protagonist and center of attention. The space that connects the classrooms is not only a functional passage, but also a space for work and play that includes multiple nooks, balconies, and walkways over the outdoor courtyard. The large, covered outdoor area is programmed for learning, food service and collaboration, and is poised to become the heart of the school. When completed, the first phase of the Dallas Lutheran School project will consist of 15 classrooms (including art and science), an administration area and a study center. Standard classrooms, science labs, and the study center are adjacent to one another to support cross-disciplinary interaction. The second phase will host more classrooms (including robotics) and a new auditorium/chapel.

The Design Impact

Through the use of color, materials and the exterior and interior experience, students who walk through the school will become part of the re-emerging campus.  A Study Center, flanked on three sides by floor-to-ceiling glass, is the core of activity, providing students the power to discover learning in their own ways. Different programs and activities are juxtaposed, offering new connections across various levels and inspiring curiosity and a passion for exploring. Students in the study center on the second floor can look down into performances in the learning courtyard and activities in the Zen Garden. The new design has brought a sense of place and hope to the community and created a feeling of cohesiveness out of chaos.

Project Features


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

Austin Transit Partnership Announces Collaboration with HKS, UNStudio and Gehl to Lead Architecture and Urban Design for Project Connect

Austin Transit Partnership Announces Collaboration with HKS, UNStudio and Gehl to Lead Architecture and Urban Design for Project Connect

Team to Emphasize Human-Centered Design in Transformative Expansion of Austin Transit 

The Austin Transit Partnership (ATP) announced a 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. Project Connect is a transformative, voter-approved investment that includes light rail, expanded bus routes, and more services across the city.

HKS, UNStudio and Gehl will design a technologically advanced, human-centric transit experience true to Austin’s culture and landscape. The team comprises architects and planners with collaborative mindsets and local knowledge. Their global infrastructure expertise includes similar award-winning projects in Los Angeles, Melbourne, The Netherlands, Doha, and Beijing.

“We are thrilled to work with this visionary, interdisciplinary design team” says Peter Mullan, ATP Executive Vice President for Architecture and Urban Design. “The design team brings both broad international expertise delivering transit and public realm projects at the highest level of design and an acute sensitivity to Austin’s specific culture and heritage.  Project Connect gives us the opportunity to stitch our community together more closely and to adapt our core values to our continued growth and our increasingly urban future.  To deliver on that promise, we need to bring a human-centered approach to the center of our design process, and this team brings that focus to our collective work. ”In November 2020, Austin voters approved Project Connect and the creation of the independent entity Austin Transit Partnership to implement this landmark investment in transit. In partnership with the City of Austin, CapMetro and the community, ATP will deliver on the community’s vision for transit in a way that embeds equity, sustainability and transparency as overarching priorities.

Design research and visioning will begin in March 2023, and will continue through the Project Development phase. ATP will share an updated light rail implementation plan in spring 2023.

HKS is a global architecture, design and planning firm with offices in Austin. Chi Lee, HKS Principal and Austin Office Director, says: “We are humbled by this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to demonstrate people-first design that prioritizes equity, well-being and resilience as we design stations for the future light rail program. Project Connect will transform Austin by making more neighborhoods accessible and affordable while promoting sustainable growth and development.” 

“Project Connect will transform Austin by making more neighborhoods accessible and affordable while promoting sustainable growth and development.”

Ben van Berkel, Founder and Principal Architect of global architecture design network UNStudio, adds: “Project Connect will be transformational for the City of Austin. Austin is a city experiencing rapid change as more and more people are drawn to its high quality of life and vibrant cultural scene. Project Connect will advance this by creating a human-centric transit system that celebrates Austin’s culture, history and diversity, while making the city more accessible for all of its citizens through an efficient and sustainable transportation system. We are thrilled to contribute to the city of Austin in such a meaningful way alongside our partners HKS and Gehl.”

Gehl is an urban strategy and design firm that centers public life and the human experience in the city transformation process. Anna Muessig, Director at Gehl, concludes: “Mobility systems work when they center people’s needs in the design process and when mobility infrastructure is an integrated part of a high quality public realm. We are honored to be part of this fantastic team and to work with ATP and the people of Austin to design a station system that celebrates the city’s culture and invites people to choose transit to get around.”

Project Connect is designed to improve access to essential jobs, health care, education, entertainment and more—making our communities more livable, equitable and sustainable. This transformative investment includes $300 million in funding to prevent the displacement of people and creating more affordable places to live.

Citizens of Austin who would like to get involved in Project Connect are invited to do so.

Learn more