About the organization: HKS represents a team of more than 1,300 architects, interior designers, urban designers, scientists, artists, structural engineers, anthropologists, and other professionals collaborating across industries and around the globe in 24 offices. Staff members are inspired by a corporate mission to create spaces that “delight, heal, and improve performance.” Established in 1939, the firm is guided by a research-driven approach to its projects through its in-house research team as well as a not-for-profit research entity, the Center for Advanced Design Research and Evaluation (CADRE).

Year in review: HKS’ cross-disciplinary practice regularly leverages the firm’s specialized areas of expertise. The result within the past year is an impressive collection of projects that illustrate the success of this approach. Take ProMedica Toledo Hospital’s Generations of Care Tower, a 686,000-square-foot, 464-bed inpatient tower, which utilized parametric modeling and applied research to evaluate the current state of operations, then translated the data into computational design tools that allowed the team to optimize a future state design to increase caregiver collaboration and eliminate silos. At the 325,000-square-foot, 74-bed Texas Health Hospital and a 120,000-square-foot medical office building for UT Southwestern Medical Center in Frisco, Texas, HKS delivered a health and wellness destination that improved access to specialized care. Specifically, the 20-acre campus was connected to the surrounding community via walkways and green spaces, inviting the community inside the site and building that houses a coordinated network of research, education, and multidisciplinary services. A final example of the firm’s work can be found in the design and planning strategy for the 1,277-bed Taikang Tongji Hospital in Wuhan, China, which created a model for a large-scale module system that could be quickly adapted to accommodate various treatment methods, medical equipment, and patient load. That model was put to the test before the building even opened, as the hospital responded to urgent patient surge needs tied to the outbreak of COVID-19, with HKS and its consultants and partners working to convert the unfinished general care hospital to a 1,060-bed, high-acuity pandemic facility within just 10 days.

Industry impact: HKS designs environments that respond to changing needs, with a focus on optimizing and measuring outcomes for both patients and caregivers. To facilitate the process, the firm relies on well-developed protocols to assist healthcare providers in navigating tough issues—a tactic that’s even more important today, as the firm and its clients navigate issues such as telehealth, infection control, and surge capabilities. In the wake of COVID-19, HKS looked beyond the traditional healthcare campus, as well, being at the forefront of the industry’s exploration of alternate care sites by assessing hotels, schools, and entertainment venues for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Most importantly, throughout the COVID-19 crisis and beyond, HKS has worked diligently to share quickly the lessons it learns, through webinars, articles, and conference sessions. Efforts like these establish HKS as a leading firm that doesn’t just deliver healthcare projects but works to improve the healthcare design industry for all.