Archive for the ‘Cool Stuff’ Category

HOK LA: King of the Beach

For nearly 30 years, Heal the Bay has supported a healthy and vibrant Santa Monica Bay.  The Los Angeles office has been very involved with Heal the Bay for over fifteen years, and is once again ready to dominate the Designer Sandcastle Competition.  A/E firms from all over LA will build jaw-dropping, creative forms that support the great work that Heal the Bay does.  As an original sponsor in 1998, HOK is very pleased to once again join forces with Heal the Bay as a Coordinating Partner for this year’s event.

pictured l to r: Jamila Valero, Bryant Suh, Steven Christian, Suellen Asato, Mike Goetz, Jane Skulmoski pictured l to r: …

ARTIC Topping Out Ceremony

“Why do you want to become an architect?”

This was the question asked by my first year professor at USC on the very first day of studio.

My answer?

“To see my ideas turn into reality. To have sense of pride knowing that I helped create something that has a lasting effect on others. To see a building come to life from beginning of design to end of construction.”

Well this February (I know… it’s a little late), I really really developed that sense of pride when my project, ARTIC, crossed a major milestone – the last piece of steel was placed on my project.


It has been a long journey. It …

HOK Dazzles at Dining by Design 2014

Thanks to Carol Vanderkloot and Bob Elliot in our New York office for contributing to this post.

Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) recently staged its annual Dining by Design fundraiser in New York City. The event featured nearly 40 inventive tabletop installations throughout the exhibition at Pier 94. While our participation in DIFFA’s Dining by Design 2014 was a first for HOK’s New York office, partnering with Knoll made it an extremely gratifying experience. Together, we created a visual collaboration between the brands that illustrates an organic transformation of the senses.

DIFFA__03C1626 Photo courtesy Timothy Bell

A wall of roses provides a dramatic back drop for the dining vignette. Using Knoll Textiles, the …

HOK’s Paul Woolford Explores Biomimicry for Wired’s Innovation Insights

The Mint Canopy

(This post on biomimicry by Paul Woolford, AIA, IIDA, LEED AP BD+C,  director of design in HOK’s San Francisco office, first appeared in Wired’s Innovation Insights community site.)

All around us, entrepreneurial organizations focused on everything from information technology to scientific research are continuously reinventing the nature of what they do. Yet design and construction firms — those of us charged with imagining and building the environments that help the creative people in these organizations remake the world — are largely designing and building the way we have for centuries.

One could argue that the last fundamental innovation in the built environment was the mid-20th century …

Filling Santa’s Sleigh: HOK’s St. Louis Office Collects Toys for Tots

Thanks to Dianne Brown of our St. Louis-based firm-wide legal team for passing along this message. Well done, team!

Charlie, Dianne, Sarah and Kevin display a few of the gifts donated by our St. Louis colleagues.

HOK’s St. Louis office recently participated in The “Toys For Tots” Drive in cooperation with the Marine Toys For Tots Foundation and the Metropolitan Square building.

The goal of Toys for Tots is to help less fortunate children experience the joy of Christmas through the collection and distribution of toys.

Thanks to the generosity of the St. Louis office, a child’s holiday will be extra special because of your donation.

Special thanks to HOK volunteers: Sarah Dirsa, Dianne Brown, Charlie

Create, Inspire, Connect, Care

This time of year HOK’s values are shared with the City of Houston through volunteering, donations, and community involvement.

HOK Movember 2013

As we completed the month of November…and “Movember” (dedicated to raise awareness to men’s health), many thanks to those who joined the worthy cause and sported mighty stylish “staches” or donated to the team.

We Care Event

Another year of We Care is complete and the snowman hot cocoa jars were cute and tasty! The event was full of children zooming around to create crafts and with a great turnout of volunteers and kids, all 96 of HOKs crafts were made within an hour….

HOK in Toronto: Designing Astana 2017


In the early summer of 2013, HOK was invited to participate in a design competition for the 2017 Expo Design in Astana – the rapidly developing capital of Kazakhstan.   The theme for the expo; “Future Energy”, challenged entrants to demonstrate the use of innovative technologies capable of affecting people’s perception of energy and green development.

In order to submit the most stunning and creatively adroit entry possible, a multidisciplinary team from the HOK Toronto office made up of Landscape Architects, Urban Planners, Architects, and experts in Sustainable Design, worked closely with equivalently talented engineering teams from ARUP and RWDL.

Inspired by the traditional assemblies of Kazakh tribes, the core concept of the design …

HOK Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Metropolitan Square in St. Louis


PlaqueEarlier this week, our St. Louis team participated in the Metropolitan Square building’s 25th anniversary celebration. Met Square is not only the tallest building in St. Louis; it’s also an HOK design from the 1980s and the home of our St. Louis office today.

The first building on this site was the Berthold mansion, built in 1829 when the site at 5th (now Broadway) and Pine was out in the country. Certainly, times have changed. The Berthold Mansion became the Democratic Party headquarters in 1859 and was the site of demonstrations during the Civil War. As the years passed and the city expanded …

A Season for Family, Sharing, and Being Thankful

potluck 1

Fun was had by all at the HOK Oktoberfest Family Picnic.  Games of tug of war, water balloon toss, a stein holding contest, and the ultimate tricycle obstacle course took place.  Luckily there were seasonal craft brews, a great food truck, and a tropical snow cone vender to keep us fueled up for the competitions!


The fun and creativity continued at the Houston CANstruction build-off. HOK’s team donated over $2000 to the event which funds the Houston Food Bank AND we got to build a formula 1 race car out of canned goods!  The awards ceremony takes place on November 23rd , so keep your …

HOK’s Chris Brown Scopes Out an Island Paradise in the Seychelles

Thanks to Chris Brown, RIBA, LEED AP, architecture practice leader in our Dubai office, for this guest post.


Earlier this year I was lucky enough to visit a unique site belonging to our client in the Seychelles, a 115-island country scattered across the Indian Ocean. We were there to consider development on an island owned by our client.

1_ChrisBrownThe Seychelles is a large archipelago of granite and coral islands about 2,000 miles south of Dubai and 1,000 miles east of mainland Africa. The economy is largely dependent on tourism and relies on the beauty and protection of its natural environment.

Our destination was …

Build it Forward

Team HOK with their student team leader Cassandra Team HOK with their student team leader Cassandra

On Saturday November 2nd, HOK Houston along with other members of the Houston design, engineering and construction community, participated in the second annual ACE Mentor Program Build it Forward event. The event was designed to raise scholarship funds for the Houston chapter of the ACE Mentor Program while giving students and their mentors an opportunity to give back to their community.

This year teams constructed convertible picnic tables that function as benches or a full size picnic table when converted. The teams built approximately 15 composite picnic tables that will be donated to local charitable organizations.

Celebrating James Klaiber’s 40 Years of Service to HOK


This month the Houston office honored James Klaiber for his great accomplishment of 40 years with HOK, YES ANOTHER engineer to join “40 year club!”

James practices electrical engineering and has good company in the MEP department… many of which are here for the long haul, like 20 and 30 years, plus!

Congratulations James and THANK YOU for your continued excellence.

HOK Houston Supports Fun + Fundraiser

HOK represented their bowling skills amidst whacky bowling rules and silly scorecard names to contend with. With bowlers named “Citrix nightmare, BIMMY Hog, and Navisworks,” it was truly an architectural themed fundraiser that challenged us to bowl like zombies, on one foot, and with our eyes closed!

The 5th annual bowling fundraiser raised funds for the Texas Architects Committee (TAC) which promotes the interest of architects in Texas and raises funds to make campaign contributions to those seeking election or re-election to political office.

Big THANKS to our very own Janis Brackett for arranging our participation in this fun event!

Toronto Team Designs Best Seats in the House

A group of designers in HOK’s Toronto office won the Global Group’s “Best Seat in the House” chair design competition with their “Kill Bill” entry.

To coincide with the Toronto International Film Festival, designers from more than 50 Toronto firms were asked to decorate entries in a cinematic theme to portray a favorite movie, screenplay, actor or actress.

In addition to the first-place, Quentin Tarantino-inspired ”Kill Bill” chair, the Toronto team submitted “The Fly” chair, an homage to the 1986 David Cronenberg flick about a giant man/fly hybrid played by Jeff Goldblum.

HOK Softball Team Debuts in Houston

HOK is one of 23 teams competing in the architectural and engineering coed softball league this year. With the recent growth of the office, the team is a fun way to meet outside the office environment and enjoy a hot dog and cold beverage at the same time. As one could imagine, the rivalry runs deep in the profession and it’s evident with teams we play against showing fierce competition. The HOK team plays double-headers every Monday evening and I’m happy to report the team’s first victory was almost a blow-out with a score of 12 to 1!

Keep up the wins and team spirit HOK!

Celebrating Ed Abboud’s 40 Years of Service to HOK


This month we honored Ed Abboud with a lunch event to show our support of his great accomplishment of 40 years with HOK, YES 40!  Along with his HOK family, Ed’s wife, children and grandchildren were able to join the celebration and coincidently it was also 40 years ago that day his daughter was born! He shared stories about his journey through which he has observed the advances of technology and the sustainability of construction with the less experienced staff, which includes all but a handful of us!

Congratulations Ed, and THANK YOU for your continued excellence.

In his own words, he express his thanks below.

“Your thoughts, e-mails, words, cards, hugs and gifts have truly touched me …

Architectural Bucket List: Visiting the Priory Chapel at Saint Louis Abbey

Every day, our communications team writes about HOK projects around the globe. Although we’re very familiar with many of these designs, we know we’ll only be able to see a fraction of them in person.

HOK was founded in St. Louis, though, so I’ve seen a number of projects in the area. Gyo Obata designed the campus for my undergrad university in HOK’s early years. The firm designed my favorite museum, too. In St. Louis itself, I’m fortunate enough to see HOK-designed buildings – including the one I work in – nearly every day.

One of the projects on my “bucket list” of projects I’d like to see in person …

HOKers Help a School in Peru!

Watch them say Gracias!!

Over a year ago, Kristy (HOK Miami) and I decided to book a trip to Peru… fast
forward to June 2013, and we have returned from 10 days of majestic beauty and
historical ruins. The tour included Lima, Chinchero, Sacred Valley of the Incas
(Urubamba and Ollantaytambo), Cusco, and Puno (with a boat ride on Lake
Titicaca and a visit to the floating islands of Uros).

Along the way to Puno we had the opportunity to stop and visit a local elementary
school. Prior to our trip we had collected school supplies which we were able
to hand deliver to the school children. Thanks to all of you that donated items and help put
a smile on these young deserving children’s faces!

The …

Time IS Money

Imagine going to a lecture hall that automatically transforms into a banquet hall with minimal human effort.

This is truly an option at the the Plenary Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Recently a guest from Australia enlightened me….so I am excited to pass this along. Check out this place out in action!

YouTube Preview Image


HOK Social Responsibility Chair Sarah Dirsa Named to BD+C’s 40 Under 40

Congratulations to architect Sarah Dirsa for being named to BD+C’s 40 Under 40 list!

Sarah, HOK’s social responsibility chair and founding director of HOK IMPACT, is passionate about public interest design. Some of her recent pro bono work includes Project Haiti Orphanage & Children’s Center and Potentials Resale Boutique. She was also instrumental in bringing the Next American City Vanguard Conference to St. Louis in 2012.

Click here to read more about Sarah and her fellow 40 Under 40 awardees from BD+C.

McDonnell Planetarium Marks 50 Years — Now, to Infinity and Beyond!

Photo courtesy St. Louis Science Center Facebook page

Congratulations to the St. Louis Science Center, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the James S. McDonnell Planetarium today! This hyperboloid structure, designed by HOK Founding Partner Gyo Obata, opened on April 16, 1963, in Forest Park.

“The strength comes from the shape,” HOK architect Roger McFarland said in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article. “Think of an egg; it’s tiny but strong. It’s a beautifully simple concept. But once you start looking at the construction photographs, you realize how difficult it is to build something so simple.”

In 1966, architecture students from Washington University in St. Louis unknowingly …

2013 Pi Day

Happy Happy Pi Day – Happy Happy Pi Day


Another successful HOK Structure’s Pi day has come and nearly gone as I write this.  As always it was an enjoyable event for all; we brought pie, we ate pie, we recited pi.    This was the St. Louis Structural Engineering group’s sixth annual event to celebrate the mathematical constant pi, an irrational and transcendental number represented by the Greek letter “π”.

To celebrate, we hosted an event inviting colleagues in our office to bring in a pie and participate in a “Best In Show” pie contest (and of course to eat pie) in addition to hosting the “most recited digits of pi” contest.  Winners were awarded with …

The Secret to Productivity Is…

Not only have I been seeing this NYT article (Relax! You’ll Be More Productive) circulating around Facebook lately, but a coworker also just emailed it to our whole group.  It seems that many people are yearning for both increased productivity and relaxation – and this article by Tony Schwartz just may be the golden ticket to helping us achieve that magical balance!

It seems a bit counterintuitive at first.  Schwartz states that they key to achieving greater productivity is not found through getting swept up in a whirlwind of working/going/doing longer and faster, rather, it is found in quite the opposite state: that of relaxation and rejuvenation.

Schwartz’s thesis …

Project Haiti’s Seeds of Hope: HOK Design Team Donates $50,000 to USGBC’s Orphanage Project in Haiti

This post, written by HOK President Bill Hellmuth, originally appeared on the U.S. Green Building Council‘s blog.

What do a 5.5 million-square-foot research university in Saudi Arabia and a 6,000-square-foot orphanage in Haiti have in common? Inspired by sustainable architecture on two vastly different scales, their bond will soon help hundreds of children begin their journeys home.

The HOK team that designed the LEED-NC Platinum King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) campus in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, earned a $50,000 award. Instead of dividing this money among the team, Science + Technology Director Bill Odell and other project leaders set out to

A Christmas Gift from Generations Past

Sal Gimbert, a structural engineering technician in our St. Louis office, posted this photo on Facebook the other day. Shared here, with her permission:

Using my grandfather’s (Alexander F. Newlands) slide rule this afternoon to get some work done from home. My mother and my grandmother passed it on to me as a Christmas gift this year. He was a civil engineer and ambidextrous. I never knew him, as he passed when my mother was two years old, but I feel influenced by him daily. Beauty in the smallest things. Powerful moment for me. Happy Holidays all!

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from St. Louis HOK Structures group! May your New Year be joyful and structurally sound!



Gingerbread Build Off

T’was a warm winter day in Houston when the 4th Annual Gingerbread Build-Off took place in Hermann Square. HOK’s team built a holiday version of James Turrell’s Skyspace that was made of green cake covered in parsley, white chocolate, ginger bread, and various candies.

Thanks to our builders and strategists:

Jasmine Brown, Deinte Dan-Princewill, Alex Lara and Leming Yang.

Candy Strategists: Lauren Flemister, Ashley Craig and Sara Bullington

…and those who came to support and vote!

Follow the link below to explore more on the built pavilion:

A Skyspace in Houston – Lighting – Architect Magazine Page 1 of 3

James Turrell’s latest project is an architectural pavilion that frames an artwork—and an artwork that accomplishes an …

Diversity Quilt (Part 3) – The Squares

A continuation of the HOK Diversity Quilt posts … today we are featuring “all about me” squares.  We’ve found that each square represents the maker in a unique way, and the next two were uniquely made:

Donovan Oliff (Assistant General Council)“Donovan”

1. Did you have any inspiration in making your square (and what process did you use to make it)?

I wish I could point to something interesting as a source of inspiration.  To tell you the truth, I was a little intimated by all the stunningly creative people working in our office.  My knowledge of artistic media is limited to what I was taught to use in grade

Diversity Quilt (Part 2) – The Squares

As part of the HOK Diversity Quilt posts, I’ll be highlighting some squares.  I want to share the ideas and talent that have come from this project; I also want to give others inspiration; I mostly want to show you that making a square is easy and fun!  Today I’m sharing three squares…each a simple idea basically using blank fabric squares and some fabric markers.  Simple says a lot!

Matt Lindsey (ARC Print Shop)“Tic Tac Toe”

1. Did you have any inspiration in making your square?

I loved playing Tic Tac Toe as a kid and I wanted to put my inner child in to the quilt.

2. Anything fun we …

Diversity Quilt (Part One)

2012 Diversity Week in St. Louis brought some fun activities to the staff, but the one I was (and still am) most excited about is the Diversity Quilt. 

The quilt, a scheme brought to life by Penny Malina, represents the “joining of small pieces of fabric as a whole allowing us to see how each individual square is integral to the completed quilt”.  The drive for squares began in July.  The Interiors group donated old (discontinued) fabric samples, new muslin squares were cut, and notions were provided.  It’s been wonderful to see …