Today’s featured HOKer is a person I’ve been dying to get to know (I hear a lot about him – all good of course – but haven’t had the chance to work with him): the one and only Brad Crown. You’ll notice I was so intrigued that I actually ended up with six questions instead of five. Oops! Read on…
Q: How did you come to HOK?
A: I am a second-time HOK employee – I originally left the firm in 1988 and returned in 2008. I like to say that for 20 years I wandered in the wilderness and ended up in the desert (Brad has been working primarily on projects in the Middle East since his return). The firm has changed dramatically in the time I’ve been gone – although a lot of the same faces are here (Susan Klumpp, Morgan Williams, Rick Moy, and Bob Barr to name a few). I’m excited to be a part of a group that is committed to great design and innovative architecture.
Q: How did you decide to become an architect?
A: I’ve always wanted to be an architect. That, or an astronaut. But if you ask any of my classmates or teachers – they’ll all tell you the same thing: “Brad? I knew he was going to be an architect.”
Q: What is your dream project?
A: For my whole career, it truly feels like every project is a complete 180° turn from the previous project. I really like the challenge and the variety. After I finish the project I’m currently working on, I don’t think there’s anything I won’t have tried.
Q: What does great design mean to you?
A: Great design responds to challenges: for example, the hotel project I’m working on requires a 140 foot bridge. When discussing this with the engineers, I was asked what the solution should be. The answer is that we want the structure to be the architecture.
The challenge of balancing different disciplines and getting teams of people with lots of opinions to work together to come up with a solution is inspiring. I hate to admit it, but those deadline weeks when everyone is working a lot of overtime are really great for establishing a sense of team and coming up with interesting and effective solutions.
Q: How would the world be different without HOK?
A: That’s an interesting question – I feel that coming back after 20 years, I can really see how the firm has grown (in my first round here, only five people in the office worked on computers). It’s been a gradual transition for those that have been here the whole time, but coming back, I can see the transformation. HOK has grown into a truly outstanding design firm, one that holds itself to high standards. It’s also a very pleasant work environment.
Q: What do you do when you’re not at HOK?
A: Well, I used to really enjoy sailing. Then we bought a house by the Chesapeake Bay and since then, there’s been a lot of home renovation involved. So, I spend a lot of time at Home Depot and Lowe’s. I also love to travel, although the home improvement does put a dent in the travel plans (don’t be fooled: Brad’s latest grand trip was a two week adventure in Italy). And there are always the dogs (Brad is a parent to two beautiful golden retrievers: Riley and Chase).