Archive for the ‘Weird’ Category

HOK LA 6th Annual Halloween Contest

I can’t believe it has been 6 years since LA’s first Halloween costume contest.

This year we had some fierce competition.  We had over 40 people dress up!!  Not only did we have individual costumes, we encouraged the office to form groups for our TV Land theme.

It’s amazing to see so many people participate, be so creative and have so much fun.
Adam NicholAlex WebsterJordan NguyenJamila Valero

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 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!

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 …

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 …

Morning Habits of Highly Successful People

Eat the frog first?! That’s what Fast Company Magazine recommends in Kevin Purdy’s article What Successful People Do With the First Hour of Their Day. I am not one to eat the frog first, for sure. My day usually starts about an hour before others show up at the office. This allows me some time to get my list of things to do together, catch up on email and voicemail, and sart checking a few things off my list. I typically accompany this start up time with a cup of “fancy coffee” and some breakfast (usually greek yogurt).mmm…coffee!I save my frog eating for mid-day. I wondered if …

Reduce, Re-use, then Recycle

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces about 4.4 lbs. of garbage every day. That’s 29 lbs. per week or 1,600 lbs. per year. This amount of trash could cover the state of Texas two and half times and also fills enough trucks to form a line to the moon.




So this Earth Day (Sunday April 22),….and every day:

1. REDUCE: Think if you need it, or just want it…and if it comes without all the packaging or if you can get the equivalent USED or refurbished, which also saves $$$$!

2. REUSE: You know the saying, “One person’s trash is another’s treasure.” Donate things you no …

Social Media for Designers – Survey Results

You asked for it and you’ve got it!  Many thanks to all who participated in the survey last month.  We had great response: 174 respondents over the course of a week. Full disclosure – this survey was created for a presentation to True Textiles, Inc; you may know them as Guilford of Maine.  The folks from True Textiles are truly smart, fun, nice, and have some kick-butt products. I truly enjoyed spending time with them – it’s not every day you see the CEO of a company dress up as Darth Vader and encourage employees to shoot apples off one another’s …

How Do You Use Social Media?

It’s survey time!  For those of you obsessed with surveys (like me), here’s your chance to offer some feedback. One of our favorite topics here at Life at HOK is social media – and we want to know how you use it.  This survey is geared toward designers and those in the design industry.  We’ll make the survey results available sometime in February.
Access the survey here
It will be open from today through next Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 5:30 pm Eastern.

Thanks for participating!

What Do You Do Online?

Like most of you, I tend to be limited with free time.  Having added a child to my family (a year ago today, Happy Birthday girlie), I’ve found many of the things I used to enjoy limited in some fashion or just replaced with new and fun activities with the little one.  One of the things I had enjoyed pre-baby was reading.  Then the little one came along and it was as if my brain turned to mush.  Difficulty came with not only finding time to read, but with committing to memory any part of the paragraph I had just read.  I let reading fall by the wayside assuming I’d pick up where I left off …

Accounting Rides Again!

It’s been a very big summer for Corporate Business Manager, Stacy Sensel.

She’s a HUGE St Louis Cardinals Fan (yay to the cards – this city is on the edge of it’s seat!), she bought a house and installed a pool, and she’s been doing an awful lot of horse showing. 

This last weekend, Stacy was at the US Sport Horse Nationals in Lexington, KY.  She rode a horse named Red, and placed National Top Ten!  The US Sport Horse Nationals represents horses from all over the US and Canada. 

Stacy normally shows her Arabian, Beamer, but was showing a horse qualified by another …

Create, Inspire, Connect, Care

Peace not War! Well in this case, a peaceful war of Post-It art.

As designers we create, live, work, and play in the vertical world of cities so therefore we strive to provide a forum for public communication. More commonly a courtyard, park, transit stop or even the elevator is the venue of communication with total strangers of the city, and in some instances other co-workers.

Currently in metropolises around the world, windows are becoming this platform by being transformed into canvases of 16-bit characters of our childhood heroes and villains. So what’s the message of an urban battlefield created of mere paper images? In the video link below it is described as an opportunity for the …

HOK Anniversary Surprise from Outer Space!

These images say it all – there are some very creative people at HOK!

 Kim Frey, vice president and business manager has been with the firm for 30 years this month – what a huge accomplishment!  The traditional 30th anniversary gift is Pearls but we decided to surprise her with aluminum, A LOT OF ALUMINUM! Besides, it’s much more shiny, flexible, affordable, and best of all- Recyclable!!!

Kim “sincerely wants to thank each of you for the pleasure of being part of this great group of professional for all these years, …

Hats from Hostas

Last week I attended, quite possibly, my favorite of HOK customs… supporting the Forest Park Forever Women’s Committee by attending the Hiram W Leffingwell Hat Luncheon.  Do you want to see the who’s who of top female execs in St. Louis?  Wearing amazing and sometimes silly hats?  And supporting one of the country’s foremost urban parks?  I do…. and will and will and will!

Each year, the women of HOK attempt to contrive a “theme” for the table… this year, we went green, baby.  I do believe we were the only ones there with completely compostable head …

Doodle all the way…

At school I was always told that cartoons weren’t “proper art”, which is why I became determined to draw the way I wanted. One of my favourite architectural illustrators/cartoonists is Louis Hellman , so when at the beginning of this year I was fortunate to start a monthly blog for the Architectural Journal here in the UK, I was inspired to add my own political doodlings to the column. For those of you who aren’t familiar with UK politicians I have added a picture to help you figure out who’s who!

The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP is a popular …

True Life (in a Hotel) – the good, the bad, the weird

This year I’ve become a bit of a road warrior.  Since January I’ve been to Boston (five times), Orlando, Colorado Springs, Chicago, and Richmond… and I have a trip to Holland MI planned for the end of the month. After that, I don’t have anything planned til October (Phoenix) – thank heavens!

As a result of all this travel, I’ve had the opportunity to stay in a number of different hotels: Hampton Inn, Courtyard by Marriott, Westin, Hyatt, Marriott, Sheraton, Aloft, and probably a few others. I like to take pictures of the rooms, and any design features or other items that spark my interest (for better or worse).  With that said, I thought I would share some of the “best and …

The Duet (banjo sold separately)

So, every year the Dallas design world has its  Furniture for Kids event benefiting the Mavs Foundation.  Design firms from all over the Metroplex modify and reconstruct basic furniture into one-of-a-kind works of art.  This year the Dallas office was given 2 rocking chairs to create into who knows what.  A full size rocker and a baby rocker.  Check out what came of it!

There you have it.  One of a kind and ready for auction.  Here is one last photo from tonight’s event, stained and in action….

The beginning of my three months sabbatical

Tonight is the first evening of my three months sabbatical in which I had a chance to revisit this TED talk by Stefan Sagmeister “The Power of Time Off”.

Special thanks to Aida Staugaard for the thoughtful suggestion. In fact I thought this was a very refreshing start for my sabbatical.

Note #1 The fact that I’ve been out of graduate school for 7.5 years , seems to match Sagmeister’s sabbatical strategy on cutting off the 5 years of retirement years and slipping them in between the working years. Does this happen to be a coincidence?

Note #2 “You need to plan your sabbatical”. List the hierarchy and possibly matrix them up. Looking forward to start fresh on this tomorrow morning:)

Food of the World

In aid of the charity Children In Need, HOK London held a ‘Food of the World’ buffet-style lunch yesterday in the atrium. A huge thanks goes to Adeline for organising such a successful fundraising event – a massive £280 was raised!

Advertisement for the event

Over 30 different dishes were brought in by staff from all over the globe, including rabbit pie, membrillo and manchego cheese, Spanish tortilla, Irish Soda bread and butter, insalata caprese, Swedish herring, turkish food, South Indian food, mediteranean tart with roast vegetables, feta and ricotta cheese, pumpkin and sweet potato curry, Nigerian boiled yam and fried plantain, and of course some chips from local chippie!

It was …

The Next Stars of Project Runway??

If you’ve ever watched Project Runway, you are familiar with Tim Gunn’s mandate to “make it work” – no matter what bizarre challenge the designers faced.   This year, HOK DC got the chance to design some haute couture at IIDA’s Cosmo Couture event – with a challenge even Project Runway hasn’t tried yet: making clothing out of industry manufacturer’s goods – including furniture and  lighting!

Cosmo Couture pairs up designers with industry manufacturers as part of a charity event.  Each team was required to select a country for their design to represent, as the overall theme of the night was “Global Chic.”  Manufacturers were allowed to contribute up to $500 worth of materials, and the finished …

Can, Ya’ll dig it?

Credit: Schlafly Beer

Over the past year or so I have notice a wonderful trend in the craft beer industry: canned beer.  This may not sound like anything exciting to you, but for a bike-bound  man about town like myself cans are infinitely more mobile than their glass brethren.  Aside from mobility, there are a host of other reasons that canned beer is good.

  • Cans are recyclable – Recycling aluminum cans saves 95% of the energy used to make a virgin can.
  • Cans are stackable – You can fit more in your fridge, more in you cooler and this allows distributors to maximize cargo (thus lessening Co2 associated with  beer distribution trucks).
  • Beer chills faster

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 …


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!

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 …

Visiting a New Landmark

So, I know this building has been up for a while, but it was the first time I got to experience it….and it was weird.  Partly cool, but mostly weird.  Which building, you ask?  Why the new(ish) San Francisco Federal Office Building designed by Morphosis/Thom Mayne.


Dedicated in July 2007, the building is the outcome of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)’s Design Excellence program. It’s an 18-story building located roughly where the Tenderloin, Union Square, and SOMA neighborhods come together….on some pretty seedy blocks!  Many props to GSA for building in a challenging neighborhood – but,  it’s certainly not a place I’d like to walk alone pretty much any time of …

Daphne’s Big Break

These days, it isn’t easy to land a job interview. But Daphne O’Leary recently broke through the clutter to score an important meeting with HOK Alaska HR Manager Rob Pilkington.

See how Daphne fares in this dramatic depiction of her interview experience.

Any similarities to actual individuals – real or imagined – are purely intentional.
YouTube Preview Image

Lessons Learned from a Road Warrior

Let’s start with a disclaimer: I’m not your true road warrior, but I do travel fairly regularly for my job.  This year, I’ve been on four trips (once to Fort Worth, TX and thrice to Raleigh, NC) – once a month is pretty typical for me.


For the most part, these trips go relatively smoothly.  Once in a while, flight delays will get me.  For example, I once arrived in Abu Dhabi while my clothes were stuck halfway between DC and the UAE (thank goodness I had packed clean socks, undies, & a t-shirt in my carry on).  Another time I got stranded in O’Hare airport due to “bad weather” between …

3.15 Pi Day Round Up

Math nerds around the world celebrated a little known, but widely growing holiday called Pi Day.  The St. Louis Structures Group celebrated our 3rd Annual Pi Day on Monday, March 15.

This year’s events included two awards: 1 for the “Best In Show Pie”; 1 for the most recited digits of Pi.

Each recipient recieved a $30 gift card to Pi Pizzera in St. Louis courtesy of the Structures Group!

And the winners were:

Lemonade Pie by Jason Wandersee (of the Justice Group) (recipe below)!

111 digits (including the 3) – Yong Yu (of the Strurctures Group)(Erich Friesen from the Healthcare Group was a very …

Recipe For A Happy HOK-er

It is customary in the London office to bring in some sweet treats when it’s your birthday. Last month it was my birthday so I thought I’d raid the store cupboard and try the ‘homemade’ approach instead of going to the supermarket.

I’ve now had so many requests for more homemade goodies that I have made this a monthly tradition. So in February there were HOK-themed cupcakes…

… and this month I went for lemon traybakes (see recipe below). I love to bake but usually end up stuffing my face, so it’s really nice to be able to share the calories with others :)

It is such a simple idea and yet it gets brilliant results: it boosts staff moral as well …

new park, same ol’ rules

not a bike rack

Tampa residents have long awaited the re-opening of Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park which is situated between the new Tampa Museum of  Art and the overly manucured Kiley Garden (design by the renouned Dan Kiley and stripped of nearly all vegetation!). Curtis Hixon is the closest thing to a central park the city has and is hosting a number of events to keep the people coming  downtown on the weekends.  The city DOT was tasked with finding bike paths to the park, however a sign declaring park rules clearly prohibits bikes in the park and it is being enforced. Furthermore, the park  is connected to the Tampa Riverwalk which is a pedestrian thoroughfare that  allows bikes, but there are only 4 …