The Business Journal explores how diversifying its expertise has helped HOK expand its Houston practice.
Excerpted from the Houston Business Journal:
Three years ago, the leadership team at the Houston office of HOK decided the firm needed to diversify. It was 2015 and shortly after oil prices started to fall in November 2014, which left energy companies—and those that service those companies like HOK—more carefully eyeing the bottom line.
At the time, justice projects only comprised five percent of HOK’s Houston office’s project portfolio in a given year.
But after hiring two executives and around 12 additional employees to staff the practice, designing courtrooms and detention centers now accounts for around 20 percent of the Houston office’s projects, Roger Soto, design principal at HOK, told the Houston Business Journal.
This increase in work is showing in the company’s bottom line. HOK’s local billings increased by 32 percent between 2016 and 2017, per HBJ research. The company reported $22.17 million in local billings in 2017 and around $15 million in local billings in 2016.
Though the firm’s justice practice has grown significantly, the lion’s share of HOK’s work in Houston still comes from corporate interiors work. That kind of work comprises around 60 percent of HOK’s work in Houston, Soto said. The sector showed signs of growth in 2017, Soto said, and is continuing to grow in 2018.
HOK has around 115 local employees. In 2017, it worked on several high-profile projects including Hines’ 609 Main office tower and InterContinental Houston Medical Center, a 22-story hotel near the Texas Medical Center that’s expected to open later this year. HOK also designed The Allen (pictured above), a mixed-use development on six acres at the southeast corner of Allen Parkway and Gillette Street near the Federal Reserve building. It’ll be comprised of a luxury hotel, which will have between 150 and 180 hotel rooms; an office tower that’ll offer between 200,000 and 250,000 square feet of Class A office space; high-end retail space and a residential component.