The HOK Planning Group
Dedicated to People and Place
Forty-five years after George Hellmuth, Gyo Obata and George Kassabaum began designing schools in St. Louis, HOK has grown to become the largest architecture/design firm in the world today. Each day, millions of people across the country visit HOK buildings and facilities such as Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. and the Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport in Texas.
Working side-by-side with the designers of these highly visible HOK projects is a group of talented and experienced planning professionals who have quietly amassed an impressive portfolio of master planning, landscape architecture and urban design work.
"Our practice is most known for its role on design teams in support of HOK's larger architectural projects," said Chip Crawford, practice director of The HOK Planning Group. "Many clients are quite surprised when they find that in addition to the important role we play on building projects, over half of our work is on 'free-standing' planning, landscape architecture and urban design projects. The variety of work is incredible, and our clients are literally all over the world," Crawford added.
This summer The HOK Planning Group became a dedicated business unit within HOK, with the idea of leveraging the group's variety and depth of experience to become a leader in innovation for planning, landscape architecture and urban design.
"It became obvious that joining the planning practices throughout HOK's offices was the key to leveraging our resources and growing this area of expertise in the firm," said Monte Wilson, director of business development. "As an independent business unit within a large, international architecture firm, we are unique. We are positioned to quickly and effectively meet our clients' needs like a small, entrepreneurial firm, yet we still have the resources of the number one architecture firm in the world," Wilson added.
As communities across the country and around the world deal with the effects of continued growth and expansion, the traditional values that guide the planning profession are beginning to resonate with an increasingly large audience. The HOK Planning Group is committed to addressing the issues of growth with solutions that incorporate environmental stewardship, science and art to create livable, sustainable places. In fact, just one month following its launch, The HOK Planning Group expanded its offerings with the formation of the New Urban Studio, adding the expertise of three prominent New Urbanists to the group.
"Our ultimate goal, whether the project is a master plan for a university campus expansion in Texas or landscape architecture for a park in Midtown Atlanta, is to create a place that really works, and that people will really care about," Crawford said.
Chouteau Lake District Master Plan
As part of an innovative plan to spur the re-development of downtown St. Louis, The HOK Planning Group created a conceptual design for the Chouteau Lake District. The plan calls for the re-creation of the 15-acre Chouteau Lake, originally Chouteau's Pond, a popular recreation, residential and business area in the early 1850s. The re-created lake will be the central catalyst for development of an entire network of neighborhoods, which is seen as a key component in revitalizing downtown St. Louis.
"The Chouteau Lake District is a bold, innovative plan that has the potential to dramatically change the entire face of downtown St. Louis," said Jim Fetterman, vice president and commercial market leader for The HOK Planning Group.
The vision for the entire project calls for at least 3,600 apartments, condominiums and town houses, 3.7 million square feet of commercial development and 65 acres of public open space. The development will also be conveniently linked to recreational areas, such as the network of greenways and trails being established by the Confluence Greenway project, also being planned by The HOK Planning Group.
The HOK Planning Group has completed the conceptual master plan for the Confluence Greenway, a 40-mile network of parks, recreation trails, greenways and conservation areas surrounding the confluence of the Missouri, Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. The plan creates a perpetually sustainable riverside park on both sides of the Mississippi River, extending from the Gateway Arch to the river's confluences with the Missouri and Illinois rivers. As a waterfront destination for the community and visitors, the Confluence Greenway will provide people of all ages and abilities a safe recreation environment. The project also will help to restore and protect the environment and wildlife in the area.
"The cultural, geographic and environmental significance of the Missouri and Mississippi River system dates back thousands of years and has profoundly affected American history," said Crawford. "By creating safe, enjoyable access to this area and increasing people's awareness of this incredible river system, the Confluence Greenway project will help to re-connect the people of St. Louis with the rivers that have shaped their city."
The HOK Planning Group Makes Its Mark on St. Louis
Thanks in part to HOK's long history in St. Louis, The HOK Planning Group has worked on many noteworthy projects in the area. Pictured above from left to right are:
St. Louis Union Station. Union Station's conversion to a mixed-use development was the largest preservation project in the City's history. It contains over 100 specialty shops and restaurants, a Hyatt Regency Hotel and a park with a one-acre lake and plaza. The design solution created a "town center" with pedestrian streets and parks linking the hotel, retail and market activities.
Ralston Purina Entry Plaza Redevelopment. The re-design for the entry arrival plaza, completed in 1999, includes a "checker board" granite fountain and garden seating. This design solution converts the plaza to more of a "place" and recreates one of Ralston Purina's icons.
Monsanto Company "D" Building Renovation. HOK renovated and virtually reconstructed the entire corporate headquarters, which is distinctive, dignified, and personal. The garden pavilion, which is the focal point of Monsanto's campus, is arranged in horizontal ledges of stone surrounded by outdoor plazas and extensively landscaped gardens.
The HOK Planning Group's mark will be felt in the years to come, as developers learn that sustainable, lasting design is simply good design, and as visitors to the Group's projects enjoy the fruits of their labor.
The St. Louis Union Station represents the largest preservation project ever undertaken by the City. The interior botanical garden (left) and the outdoor water feature (right) entertain thousands of travelers who pass through the station every day.