In 1955, George Hellmuth recruits Gyo Obata and George Kassabaum to form an architectural firm in St. Louis with a vision for using design to help clients succeed and creating places that enrich people’s lives. George Hellmuth incorporates this new firm as Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, Inc. (HOK), a Missouri corporation with 26 employees. He grants ownership shares to Gyo and George Kassabaum and keeps a majority for himself. Ten years later, George Hellmuth increases the ownership interests of Gyo and George Kassabaum to make each of the three principals equal owners. Some stock shares are held in reserve for future key employees.
George Hellmuth, while director of marketing at Smith, Hinchman and Grylls (SHG), had written a document on how to grow a successful practice for a large architect-engineer firm. In 1955, he embraces the document for Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum. Referred to as his blueprint for a successful design firm, George’s document includes thoughts on the importance of obtaining business from large clients who have work to perform in several parts of the world as well as the benefit of developing specialty areas of design practice.
Highlights of George’s plan for a “Recession Proof Office:”
The group also brings with them a design philosophy that Gyo had helped craft:
“Buildings should be designed around people, and for people: buildings can be and must be more than an economic and efficient functioning machine. We believe that buildings must be designed to provide qualities of beauty both inside and out: qualities that contribute to people’s sense of well-being and happiness.”