Archive for July, 2010

The Power of Pro Bono

If you think that architects have the power to make a difference in the world, you should read this book. If you don’t think so, you absolutely have to read this book.

The Power of Pro Bono

Why Do We All Sit In The Same Desk?

I really appreciate simple charts, graphs, information in general. This Fast Company Infographic is equal parts: accurate / straightforward / funny. It boils down worker personalities into three categories based on how much you work and how much you talk. Created by designer Joey Roth, the poster doesn’t aim to analyze the information but rather act as a jumping off point for further conversation.

Simple infographics like this are a great reminder that your organization is full of a diverse group of individual work styles that often perform better in different settings. But still as Designers we continue …

Interview with Charles Lee, AIA SF Young Associate 2010

HOK San Francisco has been consistently recognized by the AIA for many stellar accomplishments in Architecture, Interior Design and Planning, and also for the wealth of talent that this office is home to. Both recipients for the Young Architect + Associate Awards in 2008 (Jason Dale Pierce and Rachel Bannon-Godfrey) were from HOK, and this year’s award recipient for the AIA SF Young Associate is HOK San Francisco’s own Charles Lee.  Besides being on the Aviation/Architecture team at HOK  and involved in research work on bio-mimicry, Charles is also one of the friendliest people in the office and always ready for a chat (….and we are cubicle-neighbors too!). Read on for an interview with Charles, as we talk about his background, career focus and …

Flickr Friday – Carnival House


Carnival House is the new headquarters space for Carnival UK (the holding company for five of the best-known cruise lines in the UK: Cunard, P&O Cruises, Ocean Village, Princess and Yachts of Seabourn).

Previously located in five different buildings around Southampton, these brands now share a single space, one designed to facilitate the cross-pollination of ideas between teams via open plan areas and free access to different departments.  (Not to mention it floods the place with tons of daylight!)  Check out the cool cruise-ship-like atrium and the whole Flickr set to see what we mean…

Ask the Workplace Expert: Amy Fabry

As we’ve been working on this blog, we keep seeing the same few search terms come up: workplace trends, workplace 2010, innovations in workplace, etc.  To help answer some of these questions, we thought we would reach out to some of our colleagues, clients and friends and ask them about some of their workplace experiences.  Today is the first post in that series, and features HOK Washington, DC’s own Amy Fabry. 

What is your current role?  I am a Senior Interior Designer in the Washington, DC studio.

What would you say are current “trends” when it comes to the workplace?  Cram as many people in as possible. 

Seriously, many of our corporate clients …

On the Sustainable Road | [bobbleHead]line: Los Angeles

Bill Valentine, only smaller.

Not all of you have been to Los Angeles office, and that’s a shame. We’re awfully friendly and remarkably good-looking in person. We do neat things here, like Parking Lot BBQs, pot-luck lunches, World Cup Match parties and (lest you forget), really creative work on some incredible projects. But don’t take my word for it, you can ask bobblehead Bill Valentine. He’s just left our office with a fistful of memories from our sunny state.
MM BVBill(ette) visited us after the Los Angeles office secured the inaugural “Bill Valentine Award” for tangible action supporting HOK’s Sustainable Roadmap. HOK LA’s plan to encourage …

Puttin’ on the ritz… HOK Toronto’s Summer Event!


Last Wednesday, HOK’s Toronto studio celebrated the summer months with a Great Gatsby themed staff event at the Island Yacht Club. There was plenty to do; croquet, badminton, bocce ball, and tennis…


… and even more to eat!


The day finished with a live performance by Sweet Thing; a five-piece Toronto band that plays music ‘to dance like a dork to’, fist pump and all! 

Check out their debut video for ‘Dance Mother’



Congratulations to our …

5 for 5: Chatting with the HOK SF Interns!

Summer is a fun time here in HOK San Francisco, what with the farmer’s markets, the street festivals, the kooky (read: foggy) weather, and most importantly, the summer interns! 2010 was a high-yield year for the internship program: We received 876 applications from across the globe, from both Graduate and Undergraduate degree candidates, from which five were selected. Who were the chosen few, you ask? This year’s interns are an engaging and diverse bunch, and since we consider our interns to be an essential part of “Life at HOK”, I bring you 5 for 5 2010: five questions for five interns!

From L to R: Scott, Carrie, Julia, Olivia and Christian

  1. Carrie N./ Urban Planning-Landscape Architecture/ Harvard University/ Graduate Student

    What is your background

Great Day

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It was a hot day in St. Louis and I’m not just talking about the weather! Today we had our first community work day for the Dewey School Learning Garden, a project near and dear to my heart.  About a year ago, the kids started back to school on a hot August day, much like today and I noticed that the playground (a sea of asphalt) wasn’t helping the situation.  I started paying attention to the fact that in some places, plants were starting to crop up in broken spots and on rainy days, the bottom corner of the playground became what is affectionately known as “Dewey Falls.”  Working in the Planning Group as I do, I …

Challenging Airport Design

We’ve talked before about HOK’s aviation group (Indianapolis Airport, New Doha International Airport, National Air & Space Museum), so when I saw this article on crazy airports, I had to share: Enjoy Your Fright: The World’s 10 Scariest Airports.  The article shares fantastic photos and descriptions of each of the “ten scariest airports.”  I’ve included some of my favorites from the article below.

Most of my flights are to pretty major airports, most of which are not so scary; however, there are definitely days flying to Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA) that I’m concerned we might land in the Potomac River, or when I’m riding my bike past, that a plane might land on my head. …

How Cool Does Your Electricity Look?


Interesting conceptual project from textile designer Celine Marcq: reactive wallcovering that abstractly visualizes energy use. The idea is that your wall can help indicate how much electricity you are using, ideally making us all more conscious in general. This would be especially helpful for those people who have bad habits of leaving everything plugged in. The ambient light is a reminder that even though something isn’t turned on, if it’s plugged in it’s still pulling in electricity. Gets rid of the whole “out of sight, out of mind” mentaility that gets us in trouble in oh so many instances.

“It’s All About Me” (In a Good Way)

Not actually me

Recently, I was shopping at one of my favorite stores, Whole Foods (insert shameless hope that this plug gets me some free stuff), a place I consistently have an awesome customer experience.

I was standing at the meat and poultry counter with the same butcher (we’ll call him “Joe”) who helps me every Saturday. I didn’t have a specific plan; I just knew that I wanted to serve something new and interesting for dinner.  Joe must have picked up on my furrowed brow, because in addition to his usual “How can I help you?” he asked if there was something in particular I’d like to know more about, was …

Photoshopped People = Hamburgers?

I was reading this week’s Planetizen newsletter and ran across a really interesting opinoin piece: False Friendliness: Photoshopped People in Public Spaces.  The authors compare it to a marketing job for a hamburger joint – it looks similar, but just not quite the same (and not quite as nice):


As a long-term employee of various planning and architecture firms, I am quite familiar with the people photoshopping practice.  What immediately came to mind was a rendering I worked on many years ago (pre-HOK). 


This rendering was done as part of a planning exercise for a city center redevelopment plan (8-10 years ago).  The plan was …

On the (Sustainable) Road | News from St. Louis!

We’re on a road.  It’s not a road to nowhere as the Talking Heads might have thought, it’s a sustainable road.  It’s a long road for us, and somehow, we still seem refreshed and eager to keep on going!  A few summers ago, HOK St. Louis started what is now referred to as “a green feeding” list.  It’s a score card of places that the office uses for catering lunches.  It’s really a great idea the more I think about it.  Where can we make another impact?  By the very thing we do everyday, eating!

This scorecard in a sense was first created by JoAnne Brookes along with former intern Thomas Jarrett

The …

Tinker for Lunch

Last week Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino from Tinker London gave a lunch lecture at HOK London about digital data and the city.

I had met Alexandra at liftconference this spring, where she was giving a short talk on her firm’s work (here a link to her talk). And immediately I thought: that’s a great topic for a lunch talk at HOK.

We provided Alex with a good audience – in spite of the sunny weather outside the boardroom was packed with people.

Tinker London

Alex is the founder of Tinker London, a digital and interactive design firm. She specializes in an area called “the internet of things” – a way of linking objects to the internet and get usable data out of them. …

Diversity of Species in the Rainforest…

I doodle in my spare time...

This week “The Roots”..

As I gear up this week for a lot of writing, I wanted to keep you guys in the loop on what we’re playing in the studio. Last week was a big mix-up with Chatham County Line, Trentemoller, The Beatles, and MGMT. But this whole week, I’m dedicating to The Roots.


The World’s First High-Performance BOBBLEHEAD

Nothing symbolizes professional success quite like the creation of a bobblehead likeness.

Obama’s got one. The Beatles have a set. LeBron even inspired one as a Cavalier and another to chart his migration to Miami.

It was only a matter of time before our own Chairman and resident “less-is-more” pioneer — Bill Valentine — inspired a similar tribute.

Bill’s bobble is actually a new award to recognize exceptional examples of sustainability in action. It will show up at HOK offices worldwide, honoring individuals and teams for tangibly advancing the HOK Sustainable Roadmap. Introduced in early 2010, the roadmap is a framework to take sustainability …

Dallas News Letter…

Blog 3-4

I’d like to introduce you to Dallas’s newest employee. Lafonda the Beta Fish has accepted our offer of employment (forced purchase from Petsmart) and will be joining the Dallas Interior’s Team. Lafonda has weeks of experience living and swimming in circles and will be bringing her circle swimming talents to the Dallas office. Her first full day is today. Please stop by to meet Lafonda and welcome her to the company.

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A proud new author

mrac2011-aBack in April, I posted about the adventure of writing my first book. I guess the appreciation of this accomplishment really didn’t sink in until this week when I received one of the first copies of Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture 2011 – hot off the presses!

I was giddy as I sat and flipped through the approximately 1,100 pages of this 5-1/2 pound (2.5 kg) tome. You really don’t get a full appreciation of the overall composition of a book of this size until you have a chance to browse chapter to chapter and soak it all in. Eddy Krygiel, Phil Read and I really poured our hearts and souls into creating what …


I received one of those e-mails that gets sent around to just about anyone who has an e-mail address.  Most of the time I ignore them, but this one I found not only funny, but helpful and ingenious [thanks to fellow engineer David Bruce].  Here are some of the highlights, you can find more at There I Fixed It

Who needs those fancy plug organizers?

Uh huh, structural books...

As a currently pregnant woman of her first child, I believe I need to utilize this in my future!

One Thing Kansas Has Is Wind

If you’ve ever driven across Kansas on Interstate 70, which billboards proclaim to be “America’s Main Street,” you know it’s pretty much 400 miles of wind, farmland and prairie landscape. But this summer, on my way to find refuge from the St. Louis heat and humidity in the Rocky Mountains, I noticed something cool spread across the landscape about 20 miles west of Salina: the Smoky Hills Wind Farm.

Smoky_Hills_Wind_Farm 900

According to the operator, Enel North America (a division of Italy’s largest power company), the wind farm “has a total capacity of 250 MW from its 155 large wind turbines…all 80 meters tall and with rotor blades with a diameter …

The Uniform Project

We don’t have to wear uniforms here at HOK (thank goodness!) but some days getting ready for work I feel I’m wearing one anyway – 

The Typical Michelle Uniform:
Funky Skirt + Cardigan + Sensible Low HeelFunky Skirt + Cardigan + Sensible Low Heel 

For the guys I work with there also appears to be a bit of a uniform:

Some form of Khaki Pants + Any Variation on a Plaid Shirt + A Brown or Black MoccasinSome form of Khaki Pants + Any Variation on a Plaid Shirt + A Brown or Black Moccasin 

Growing up, I never had to wear a uniform to school, and I …

“Grey is out. Gloom is gone. It’s time to live our lives in colour.”

The ‘Let’s Colour Project’ is a worldwide initiative from Dulux, Dulux Valentine, Coral and Marshall to transform grey spaces with colourful paint. A mission to spread colour all over the world!

Check out the video…

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On the (Sustainable) Road | Some Ideas From Tampa


The HOK Sustainable Roadmap contains a couple of key components that direct us to achieve its goals: Design, Services, People, and Practices. Within the Practices, there is a main goal to “embody exemplary green operations” and it includes a checklist that can consistently measure each office’s performance towards a sustainable workplace.

This checklist known as the “HOK Sustainable Operations Plan” is organized much like the US Green Building Council’s LEED™ Rating System. Credits are divided into categories and each category includes Prerequisites (required items) and recommended Credits. Offices were given the opportunity to be rewarded for innovative ideas not already included in this Plan and earn up to 2 additional credits

I asked the …

Best of Work+Place (Episode V)


You’re probably still recovering from the Fourthof July (one of my favorite holidays).  A good way to get back into the swing of work is to check in on our favorite HOK site (besides Life@HOK): Work+Place.  Enjoy!

Is MY city a Sustainable City?

While Atlanta isn’t my hometown, it unexpectedly and quickly has become a city that I love. Part of my satisfaction is attributed to my in-town lifestyle. I live a couple of miles from our downtown office and can walk to numerous parks, restaurants, shops, and other convenience retail in my neighborhood.


Atlanta, like most cities, industries, and citizens was not immune to the Great Recession. The larger question for some time now has been how does one emerge?

A real estate industry friend of mine sent me the following article by Aaron Renn about Atlanta and where it goes from here.

While I don’t disagree with the facts of the article, I, personally, am more …

The Future of Cantilevers

If you hang out on Twitter, you may have seen a few Back to the Future tweets about today (or yesterday) being the day in which Marty McFly goes into the future!   I’m not really going to dispute that here (I honestly believe the actual year is 2015, and I also think it should be in October).  My whole point to this blog is about hover-boards!  For those of you that may not remember (or worse, are too young to know), a hover-board is a board much like a skateboard without wheels that was used in Back to the Future II.  It is, as it says, a hovering board that is supposed to be abundant in the near future.  I’m …

Combating Greenwash

In late January I was delighted to be asked to take on the mantle of chairing ULI Europe’s European Sustainable Development Product Council. Of course, this s a subject very close to our own hearts in HOK, but we know that not everyone in the industry still feels the same way.

Why is that?

In one word, greenwash

Greenwash, the bane of the property industry, involves a number of basic tactics, vagueness, irrelevant information, hidden trade-offs, lack of proof, technical jargon no ordinary person can understand, and attaching the words “eco” or “sustainable” to every single detail in the development or building. No wonder more and more people in our industry are turned off by the concept of sustainability in general and sustainable …