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60+ Years of Design + Innovation
7 July 2017

Philadelphia University Alumni Magazine Profiles HOK Interiors Practice Leader Kai Olsen

As an interiors practice leader based in HOK’s Philadelphia office, Kai Olsen leads projects for clients including LG, Nasdaq and the University of Pennsylvania.

“Olsen’s initial interest in design started at the age of thirteen while working for his family’s custom millwork business. His first project was a pro-bono endeavor designing, milling and installing 250 pew racks for a local church over the course of a summer under the guidance of his father.”

“Generations of Olsen’s family have run the millwork business, so it was only a matter of time before he would be involved in his own woodworking project. ‘This summer job was the first time I was designing and fabricating a product,’ Olsen said. ‘I loved seeing the evolution of a pile of wood becoming a functional object that had a purpose.’”

“Olsen graduated with his architecture degree in 2003, and after two decades with Kling, took a job with HOK. Olsen has been part of the birth of the Philadelphia HOK office and the process of building a rapport in the city among the other well-known firms.”

“‘It’s been great to have opportunities to work with forward thinking clients with large budgets and for a company that has a strong legacy of design and collaboration,’ Olsen said.”

RELX Group cafeteria in New York

“In the last year and a half working for HOK, Olsen describes his project with Nasdaq & the Philadelphia Stock Exchange to be one of his most exciting projects in years. The new space will accommodate over 400 people. ‘It was HOK’s first big commission that was awarded on its own in Philly, and it’s a high-profile win.’”