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Learning From the Land

BoysGrow Culinary Center
Kansas City, Kansas, USA

“We are honored to have a firm like HOK support our grassroots cause. They have a personal and professional interest in our mission.”

John Gordon, Jr.
Executive Director, BoysGrow

HOK’s Kansas City office has designed a new cooking facility for BoysGrow, a nonprofit that teaches young men from the inner city about agriculture and entrepreneurism.

BoysGrow is a Kansas-City based organization that conducts programs to teach young men aged 13-16 how to run a 10-acre farm and then turn the crops into products to be sold in local grocery stores. HOK worked with BoysGrow to design a 2,300-sq.-ft. culinary center on the farm to support the burgeoning enterprise. With a teaching kitchen, event space, lounge and office, the new culinary center embodies the nonprofit’s mission to instill pride, identity and discipline within these young men.

“We designed the center and its functions to help BoysGrow accomplish its mission,” said Sonya Jury, HOK’s project manager. “The building form reflects their core goals of promoting the harvesting process, encouraging learning and minimizing environmental impact.”

Working with BoysGrow Founder John Gordon, Jr., HOK designed an organic building form with warm materials that relate to the surrounding farmland. With views toward the south pond, the main dining hall and kitchen provide a visual connection to nature and the harvesting process. Adjacent to the large dining hall, a 600-sq.-ft. main kitchen has 70 feet of countertop work space for the young chefs. The large commercial kitchen promotes learning while providing a space for food production and post-harvest handling. In addition to functioning as a culinary center, the facility will provide educational spaces where the young men can learn vocational and entrepreneurial skills.

The boys use farm products to create items that are sold in local grocery stores, learning about business tools as they develop and sell their products. Sustainable design strategies include site orientation, daylight harvesting, passive solar heating, recycled materials, water recycling techniques and cross ventilation. The design orients the center to increase passive solar heating while decreasing electricity costs. Shading techniques and reflective materials will reduce cooling loads in the summer.


2,300 sq. ft. / 213 sq. m.


Interior Design


Hours donated


Boys participating in two-year program


5 January 2018
“BoysGrow Gets Cooking With Plans to Build New Culinary Center in 2018”