HOK (firm)

  (Redirected from Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum)

HOK, formerly Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum and legally HOK Group, Inc., is an American design, architecture, engineering and urban planning firm, founded in 1955.

HOK Group, Inc.
TypePrivate company
IndustryArchitecture, engineering, and urban planning
FoundersGeorge Hellmuth
Gyo Obata
George Kassabaum
Area served
Key people
Bill Hellmuth (Chairman and CEO)
Carl Galioto (President)
Number of employees
HOK founding partners George Hellmuth, Gyo Obata and George Kassabaum
Priory Chapel at Saint Louis Abbey
Tokyo Telecom Center in Tokyo
Passenger Terminal Amsterdam in Amsterdam
Indianapolis International Airport Colonel H. Weir Cook Terminal in Indianapolis, Indiana

As of 2018, HOK is the largest U.S.-based architecture-engineering firm[2] and the fourth-largest interior design firm.[3] The firm maintains more than 1,600 professional staff across a network of 24 offices, and is active in all major architectural specialties.



HOK was established in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1955. The firm's name is derived from the surnames of its three founding partners: George F. Hellmuth, Gyo Obata and George Kassabaum, all graduates of the School of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis. The design firm started with 26 employees and its three founders.[4]

The practice's first building designs were schools in St. Louis suburbs, and St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Florissant was the first private/parochial school designed by the firm. Another prominent school they designed was the Saint Louis Priory School.

Early yearsEdit

By the mid-1960s, the firm was winning commissions across the United States and began to open additional offices, starting with San Francisco in 1966 for the design of a library at Stanford University and Dallas in 1968 for the master planning and design of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Also in 1968, HOK launched its interior design practice. HOK also expanded into Washington, D.C., after winning the commission to design the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. In 1973, HOK established a presence in New York by acquiring Kahn & Jacobs, designers of many New York City skyscrapers. By the 1970s, the firm was operating internationally and in 1975 the firm was named as architect of the $3.5 billion King Saud University in Riyadh, at the time the single largest building project in the world.[4] In 1979, George Kassabaum was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate Academician.

In 1983, HOK formed HOK Sport Venue Event, a subsidiary devoted entirely to designing sport stadiums, arenas, and convention centers, an architectural boom market at the time.[4] In January 2009, the Board of HOK Group, Inc. and managers of HOK Sports Facilities, LLC transferred ownership of HOK Sport to leaders of that practice. The company became an independent firm, and rebranded itself as Populous.[5]

Expansion and aquisitionsEdit

HOK's first office outside the US opened in Hong Kong in 1984, and the second in London in 1987, a practice that would be expanded in 1995 by merging with the British architectural practice Cecil Denny Highton. As of April 2021, HOK operates offices in seven different countries including the US, China, India, and Canada,[6] where it established its first offices in 1997 with the aquisition of Urbana Architects.[7] The firm expanded into China in 2013, when it acquired the New York and Shanghai offices of hospitality design firm BBG-BBGM, creating one of the world's largest interior design firms,[8] although BBG-BBGM's office in Washington, D.C. continues to operate as BBGM. By 2007, international work represented more than 40% of HOK's annual revenue.[9]

Other domestic aquisitions include Caudill Rowlett Scott based in Houston, Texas, in November 1994, adding offices in Houston and Atlanta, and 360 Architecture in January 2015, a 200-person, Kansas City-based firm specializing in the design of stadiums, ballparks, arenas, recreation and wellness centers, and mixed-use entertainment districts. The acquisition enabled HOK to launch a new global Sports, Recreation, and Entertainment design practice after the breakaway of Populous, and to open new offices in Kansas City and Columbus, Ohio.[10] This return to the firm's tradition of stadium architecture was bouyed on May 15, 2015, when the firm announced a multi-year partnership with the United Soccer League (USL) in the US to lead a stadium development, design and standards initiative to help house all USL clubs in soccer-specific stadiums across North America by the end of the decade.[11]


In 2004, George Hellmuth's nephew, Bill Hellmuth, was named president of the firm.[12] In 2012, HOK Chairman Bill Valentine retired after 50 years with the firm and was replaced by HOK Chief Executive Officer Patrick MacLeamy, FAIA. In January 2016, HOK announced that Bill Hellmuth would succeed Patrick MacLeamy as CEO, effective April 19, 2016,[12] and he would later also assume the role of chairman when it was announced that Carl Galioto had been appointed president in April 2017.[13]

Innovation and sustainable designEdit

In 1983, HOK introduced HOK Draw, computer-aided drafting software products that specialized in conceptual architectural design. In the early 2000s, HOK began using Building Information Modeling (BIM) to streamline the design and construction process.[14] In 2012, Building Design + Construction ranked HOK the No. 1 BIM Architecture Firm.[15] In 2013, DesignIntelligence magazine, based in part on the firm's leadership in buildingSMART and BIM, ranked HOK the No. 1 Design Firm for Technology Expertise.[16]

HOK is generally regarded as one of the leading architectural companies in the area of sustainable design.[17] Professionals in the firm authored one of the industry's most respected resources on the topic, "The HOK Guidebook to Sustainable Design," originally published in 2000 by John Wiley & Sons. A second edition of the book was published in 2005. In September 2008, to better integrate nature's innovations into the design of buildings, communities and cities worldwide, HOK announced an alliance with the Biomimicry Group, co-founded by Janine Benyus.[18] In 2010, HOK and energy and daylighting consultant The Weidt Group completed design of Net Zero Court, a 170,735-square-foot, market-rate, zero-emissions class A commercial office building in St. Louis.[19]

In 2013, HOK and Biomimicry 3.8 released the Genius of Biome report, a textbook for how to apply biomimicry design principles,[20]and a year later in 2014, ORO Editions published “HOK Tall Buildings,” a 300-page book exploring the design of the contemporary high-rise.[21]

In 2015, for the sixth consecutive year, the DesignIntelligence journal ranked HOK as a leader in sustainable and high-performance design.[22] HOK currently has more than 750 LEED, BREEAM and WELL credentialed professionals and more than 300 green certified projects under various rating systems worldwide.

Global officesEdit

United States: Atlanta; Chicago; Columbus, OH; Dallas; Houston; Kansas City; Los Angeles; New York; Philadelphia; St. Louis; San Francisco; Seattle; Summit, NJ; Tampa, FL; Washington, D.C.

Canada: Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto

Asia Pacific: Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai

Europe: London. Also leads European Architects Network (EAN) - affiliated firms in Amsterdam, Brussels, Madrid, Milan, Paris and Rome

India: Mumbai

Middle East: Dubai

Selected projectsEdit


  1. ^ "About". HOK.
  2. ^ Staff (April 2018) "Top 500 Design Firms", Engineering News-Record
  3. ^ Staff (January 2018) "2018 Top 100 Giants Research Ranking", Interior Design Magazine
  4. ^ a b c "Anatomy of a Giant: HOK". Building Design + Construction. Retrieved 2021-04-22.
  5. ^ Chu, Jeff (2009-04-01). "The Biggest-and Newest-Name in Sports Stadiums: Populous". Fast Company. Retrieved 2021-04-22.
  6. ^ "HOK headquarters and office locations".
  7. ^ "The Green Urban Office". Metropolis. 2007-01-01. Retrieved 2021-04-22.
  8. ^ Nalewicki, Jennifer (January 20, 2014). "BBG-BBGM Joins HOK to Form Global Hospitality Leader". Interior Design Magazine.
  9. ^ Staff (June 23, 2008) "Uncertain Economy Pushes Design Firms To Diversify Their Portfolios" Engineering News-Record
  10. ^ "HOK completes acquisition of 360 Architecture". PanStadia & Arena Management. January 14, 2015.
  11. ^ "HOK and USL launch stadium development initiative". Stadia. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
  12. ^ a b "Bill Hellmuth named HOK's new CEO". Building Design + Construction. Retrieved 2021-05-05.
  13. ^ "Executive Moves". Crain's New York Business. 27 April 2017. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  14. ^ Staff (January 30, 2007) "BIM at HOK", AEC Magazine January 30, 2007.
  15. ^ Cassidy, Robert and Gregorski, Tim (July 19, 2012) "BIM Finally Starting to Pay Off for AEC Firms", Building Design + Construction
  16. ^ Staff (May/June 2013) "2013 Technology Trends & Innovation Survey", DesignIntelligence
  17. ^ www.architectmagazine.com https://www.architectmagazine.com/practice/2019-architect-50-top-50-firms-in-sustainability_o. Retrieved 2021-04-14. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ Merchant, Brian (September 22, 2009) "HOK and Biomimicry Guild Forge Alliance for Bio-Inspired Design Excellence" TreeHugger
  19. ^ Valentine, Bill (October 2010) "Net Zero: Two global design firms issue a call to action and lead by example" Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine, Contract
  20. ^ Badore, Margaret (June 20, 2013) "Genius of Biome Report: A Biomimicry Primer", TreeHugger
  21. ^ Staff (May 1, 2014) "HOK Tall Buildings",ORO Editions
  22. ^ Staff (July/August 2015) "2015 Sustainable Design & Leadership Surveys", DesignIntelligence
  23. ^ Brown, Steve (November 6, 2013). "Perot Buys Downtown Dallas Corner, Hints at Grand Plans". Dallas Morning News.

External linksEdit