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Fast Company Names HOK One of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2021

The annual awards recognize companies that are transforming industries and shaping society. HOK was honored for making a long-term commitment to large-scale urban development at the mixed-use Cortex Innovation Community in St. Louis.

Over the past two decades, HOK’s planners, architects, engineers, interior designers, landscape architects and sustainability specialists have helped transform Cortex from a blighted industrial district populated with abandoned, underutilized buildings into a technology-infused life and plant sciences district, and ultimately into an entrepreneurially-charged, live-work-play-learn community.

In addition to completing early conceptual master planning efforts and ongoing development and master plan studies, HOK has helped shape most of the architectural and interiors projects at Cortex, including five new construction or adaptive building reuse projects, one building under construction and two more in planning stages. HOK also has designed 22 office, lab, coworking, incubator, accelerator or innovation center tenant fit-out projects.

When its plan is complete, Cortex will have created 4.5 million sq. ft. of space and $2.3 billion of development and added 15,000 permanent jobs to the St. Louis region.

“For each project, our goal has been to create economically iconic facilities that meet market proformas while being clever, interesting and transformative—just like the people working in Cortex,” said Tim Gaidis, a senior project designer for HOK in St. Louis.

“Our teams have discovered that the design of provocative innovation space—places where creative people thrive—is scalable,” added Gaidis. “We can bring to other clients what we have learned about providing the optimal mix of amenities, work settings and community programming that encourage people to connect and innovate to create effective workplaces of all sizes.”

“The success stories coming out of Cortex indicate the future of work will have a ‘together we can’ feeling that draws energy from and permeates back out into the community,” said Brian Jencek, director of HOK’s global planning practice. “More companies will extend beyond the physical boundaries of the workplace to allow people to collaborate with and be inspired by their urban neighbors. In fluid, mixed-use innovation ecosystems like Cortex, the community itself becomes the catalyst.”

Excerpted from Fast Company:

Providing more than 6,000 jobs and another 9,000 on the way for companies like Square, Boeing, and dozens of small startups, the mixed- use Cortex Innovation Community in St. Louis, MO, is proof that large-scale planning still works. HOK has championed the urban ambitions of this 200-acre project since 2002, turning a formerly blighted industrial district into a live-work neighborhood and technology-focused business hub, with eight new buildings, three full renovations, and several new buildings under development. Last year, for example, a new hub for biotech company BioSTL opened in a historic building that housed a printing press in the 1930’s. Planned from the start to be more than just an office park, Cortex has been thoughtfully woven into the fabric of this part of the city with a central public park, multiple dining options and its own light rail station.

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