1,600 people in 24 cities living 4 values for 1 goal:
To use design to help our clients succeed.

We create exceptional environments that meet our clients' most complex design challenges.

We inspire people through our work by expressing timeless cultural, organizational and personal values.

We connect people and place with ideas that come from many minds and imaginations.

We care about serving our clients, enriching lives, improving communities and protecting our natural environment through design.

We are a global architecture, design, engineering and planning firm.

60+ Years of Design + Innovation
9 April 2018

HOK Hosts Biophilic Design Forum with Thinkers from Google, Amazon, Living Future Institute

Held in HOK’s San Francisco office, the daylong event gathered building owners and organizations that view nature-based design as integral to their mission and worth sharing with the world.

More than two dozen representatives of some of the biggest names in technology, science and sustainable design gathered March 15 at HOK’s San Francisco office to discuss ways to accelerate the adoption of biophilic design into architecture and urban planning. Biophilic design recognizes people’s innate, ancestral connection to nature and seeks to incorporate the natural environment into design either directly (such as through natural ventilation and views to plant life and the outdoors) or metaphorically (such as through the use of patterns and textures that occur in nature).

Organized in partnership with the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), the forum sought to define the current and future state of biophilic design for designers, planners and building owners and to create a framework for its adoption and evaluation. Design leaders from Google and Amazon led one of the day’s first sessions, sharing how their companies are integrating biophilic design into their buildings and workspaces. Other organizations in attendance included Genentech, Salesforce, UC Davis Health, the GSA and City of Palo Alto.

HOK’s Mara Baum shares research with forum participants on the health benefits of biophilic design.

HOK designers Sean Quinn, Paul Woolford, Zorana Bosnic, and Mara Baum led an interactive panel, presenting several case studies on how the distinct-yet-complementary methods of bioclimatic, biophilic and biomimetic design can be applied to buildings and spaces. Central to the session was a presentation of Genius of Biome: California Coast, HOK and Biomimicry 3.8’s forthcoming publication examining how organisms and ecosystems along the coast of California (America’s most biodiverse region) can influence tomorrow’s built environment. The two organizations previously collaborated to publish Genius of Biome, a highly visual report exploring how lessons from the temperate broadleaf forest biome, which houses many of the world’s largest population centers, can inform the design of the built environment.

“We believe in biophilic design as a means to further improve the spaces and places that we create,” said Mara Baum, sustainable design leader for health and wellness in HOK’s San Francisco office. “Research into biophilic design backs up this approach, with more and more studies showing how biophilic design directly benefits human health and well-being.”

Additional activities held during the day included brainstorming and strategy sessions on how designers can accelerate biophilic design in their organizations and communities. The March 15 forum was one of several biophilia workshops that HOK is participating in this year through ILFI’s Biophilic Design Initiative, directed by ILFI CEO Amanda Sturgeon and Biophilic Design Manager Tim McGee and funded, in part, by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“It was a privilege to have spent the day, under the guidance of the folks from ILFI, with colleagues, clients, and fellow travelers in this sphere of biophilia,” said Paul Woolford, design principal for HOK in San Francisco. “We look forward to exploring the next ‘green’ paths together in this journey.”

HOK’s Sean Quinn, sustainable design leader, noted that the entirety of the forum series will examine biophilic design from practical, economic and academic perspectives with the final forum looking to “assimilate these attitudes in order to shift design and development approaches to connect people with nature at an everyday level.”

Related: HOK’s Sean Quinn Discusses the Rise of Biophilic Design with MarketWatch