Places that Work: HOK’s New York Office

Individuals send messages about themselves that they feel are important and set a mood through the way they personalize their homes – they make certain sorts of experiences more likely than others. Organizations also convey information and produce psychological effects through the design of public environments. HOK’s New York office is a place that works because it effectively uses its design, and particularly its art collection, to encourage desired conversations.

Photo: Eric Laignel

The art pieces and photographs used throughout the HOK office represent applied branding, while the views of exemplary architecture framed by the classic modernist windows in the space are integral to the office’s design. All three elements matter and have a significant influence on visitor experience, but the art and photos are the focus of this discussion.

During an interview, Rick Focke, the Director of Interior Design at HOK and lead designer for the New York office, explained in detail how the office’s designers used 8 to 9 pieces of purchased art and a collection of photographs and models from client projects, to put viewers in the mood for productive, thoughtful conversation. The art intrigues viewers and leads them to wonder what is being expressed in the piece, as HOK wants to inspire visitors of its offices to be inquisitive, alert, and questioning. One of its office design objectives is for people to remember and talk about what they’ve seen – and heard – at HOK.

Photo: Eric Laignel

The art selected for the lobby does its job well. “Imax Circus” (Carter Potter, 2005, 70mm film strips). Its hanging lengths of film draw people in the reception area over to take a look, and that is the first step in getting minds ‘awondering. Kiki Smith’s “Brain Drawing” (1995), John Thomas’s “Red Rectangle #2 (2007), and the 6 other pieces on display are equally as thought-provoking. They spur reflection and are placed in the most public/client areas of the office for everyone’s viewing and enjoyment.

HOK’s New York office is a place that works, because it uses all its resources, including the art on the walls, to generate insights for great design.

Sally Augustin, PhD, is a principal at Design with Science. She is also the editor of Research Design Connections and the author of Place Advantage: Applied Psychology for Interior Architecture (Wiley, 2009). She can be reached at .

Categories: Design, Uncategorized