As we’ve seen in a number of blog entries in recent weeks, the idea of HOK people giving back to the community is nothing new.
Take, for example, last summer’s project in which HOKers built a new playground area for the kids at the Dewey School in St. Louis:
“People in HOK do volunteer work all the time,” St. Louis Architectural Technician Sarah Weissman said.
While community involvement is already a part of many HOK offices, a new group is looking to give the firm’s efforts a clearer focus.
Weissman is a leader of the HOK Impact Group, which is looking deeper into the firm’s community engagement. The group, according to Weissman, hopes to “make social outreach a part of HOK’s culture,” much like the company’s sustainability efforts.
“We’re thinking about all of the service and philanthropic efforts that HOK is involved in and seeking ways to better package them as HOK’s global response to giving back,” HOK New York’s Kimberly Dowdell said. “It’s good that HOK does so much on an office-by-office basis, but we’re exploring ways to formalize it and make it more efficient from a firmwide perspective.”
At present, the HOK Impact Group includes representatives from eight of the firm’s U.S. offices. The group is currently seeking contacts with interested colleagues in every HOK office worldwide.
The group is still in its early stages, but they’re already diving into some projects. For example, some HOK people in our St. Louis office are working on a pro bono project to benefit Youth in Need, a nonprofit child and family services agency. The projects, which will include hands-on construction work from HOK volunteers, will create an interior space for the organization’s consignment boutique.
Another example of the HOK Impact in action is the annual service project at the National Organization of Minority Architects’ conferences. For the past three years, Dowdell has organized the project with support from colleagues from across the firm. This past year in Boston, several HOK employees worked with NOMA members and local students to create community information kiosks for the United Neighbors of Lower Roxbury. Check it out:
Possibilities for HOK Impact projects include pro bono work, service projects, large-scale community planning, small-scale projects… you name it.
“It can really be anything,” Weissman told me. “It’s such a new tool that its possibilities haven’t been reached yet. There’s a lot of opportunity.”
Kimberly Dowdell discusses the HOK Impact: