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A Conversation With Betsy Graham, Director of Interiors in HOK’s Atlanta Office

Betsy Graham HOK

Betsy Graham, IIDA, is HOK’s director of interiors and an experienced project manager. Her other focus is business development, a role she has honed by cultivating relationships across the real estate community for the past 17 years. She is the face of HOK in Atlanta corporate real estate.

What do you love about design?

BN: It a wonderful thing to be able to learn about all kinds of new businesses as a design consultant. Discovering our clients’ business strategies and organizational goals is one of my favorite parts of the job, but there is nothing like being part of a team that delivers environments that support these goals in a forward-thinking manner. I truly enjoy helping clients navigate this process.

What are your responsibilities as director of interiors in Atlanta?

My job is to bring in business and direct our interior design team during execution. I am fortunate to work with a close-knit team in Atlanta. Everyone is nimble, articulate, smart and willing to do any task to make the project a success for our clients.

What is a typical day like for you?

To stay informed about what is going on in the market, I may have a meeting for coffee with a real estate contact. Afterward, I’ll sit down with the marketing team to strategize and then meet with project teams to review designs and oversee execution for our active projects. I probably spend 20 percent of my day at my desk. The rest of the time I am working directly with clients, meeting with our internal teams or working on new business opportunities.

Describe your clients’ key needs.

There’s a big push for workplace strategy and change management. In this time of evolving technology and increasing need for teaming and knowledge-sharing in the workplace, clients wonder how to plan new environments to support their business needs. They need spaces that support their organizational goals and employee culture in a cost-effective manner for the duration of their lease. HOK helps clients figure out the best strategy for them and then we execute it.

What’s the biggest challenge when implementing a workplace strategy?

Our clients’ challenges create opportunities. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. We need to create a design that’s unique for each client – one that exceeds their expectations and creates a great place for people to work every day. That’s how we measure success.

Porsche Cars North America Experience Center and Headquarters, Atlanta

Let’s talk about a few projects in Atlanta.

We designed the 200,000-square-foot Porsche Cars North America Experience Center and Headquarters to bring people together. Culturally, it’s important to Porsche that the workplace supports collaboration.

Porsche is not unlike our other clients like AGL Resources, Earthlink, Sony Mobile and Equifax that want us create ‘harder working spaces’ that improve their business. We’re maximizing every square foot while creating fantastic workplace environments.

What is your favorite place in the Atlanta area?

The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center in West Midtown. The area was underdeveloped for years but now is very popular. They show provocative work from local, national and international contemporary artists. There are artist studios surrounding a courtyard in back. It’s truly a fascinating, wonderful space and I wish more people knew about it.

What else do you enjoy outside the office?

I’m an avid gardener. I grew up in Florida where the only flowering plants were bird of paradise. I love the change of seasons in Atlanta and planted landscape that always has something blooming or changing color.

I also read a book a week. It’s a great way to relax and learn about new places, people and ideas.

Can you recommend a book?

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese is a wonderful novel.

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