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HOK's Engineering Team Uses STREAM Technology to Maximize Efficiencies


From New York to Salt Lake City, HOK’s proprietary STREAM software is improving the design process for major aviation projects.

Note: This article originally appeared in Passenger Terminal World.

Flashback to 2014 in HOK’s Midtown Manhattan office: the company’s architects and engineers were racing to complete a design proposal for the new Central Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport. Key to the LaGuardia Gateway Partners (LGP) design proposal was a pair of massive pedestrian bridges that would connect the terminal’s main hall to two airside island concourses, but the early design was experiencing challenges.

Namely, how could the engineers accommodate the project’s constantly moving geometry to complete the complex analysis necessary to validate the glass-enclosed, steel truss bridges that span 450 feet across the airport’s taxiway? The engineering team found its answer by applying existing technology with their own invention – an in-house parametric modeling tool dubbed STREAM for its ability to combine multiple programs and processes into a single, streamlined outcome.

breidenthal-matt-thumbnail-hvz“We are essentially linking different modeling programs like Rhino, Revit and Grasshopper together with structural analysis programs for the purpose of optimizing the structure and using proprietary methods and scripts coded by our engineering team,” says Matt Breidenthal, HOK’s regional leader of engineering. “STREAM allows us to review thousands of design adjustments and data points with clients, potentially creating millions of options.”

The STREAM solution worked. LGP won the project and construction on Central Terminal B is moving smoothly thanks, in part, to the STREAM software that allowed the team to immediately see aesthetic changes, as well as engineering impacts, whenever an adjustment was made to the building’s massing. (LGP includes Vantage Airport Group, Skanska, JLC Infrastructure and Meridiam for development and equity investment; Skanska-Walsh as the construction joint venture; and HOK and WSP for architecture and engineering.)


Expanding Systems

Since then, HOK’s engineering group has continued to develop STREAM, taking a startup approach to advancing the tool through multiple iterations with extensive input from colleagues across many HOK disciplines and markets.


Today, STREAM has shown the ability to streamline the design process by up to 70%, resulting in millions of dollars in savings in design work and material costs for complex projects such as airports. Almost as impressive, perhaps, is how the technology encourages engineers and architects to work in tandem to create the most innovative solutions.

“STREAM has a dramatic impact on speed to market, allowing project teams to rapidly test the outcomes of innovative design options,” notes Robert Chicas, director of aviation and transportation at HOK. “The process can save months of time and millions of dollars for developers, cities and clients, while allowing the most important industry innovations to become a reality.”

Transferring Experience

HOK has gone on to use STREAM for other large airport projects. For its Salt Lake City International Airport terminal redevelopment program, the firm applied STREAM to the complex design of the frontage road canopy, which resulted in savings of 15% (approximately $100,000) of structural costs.

Moreover, a design that typically would have taken about a month to validate was completed in just a single day when using STREAM.  Early in the design of the landside modernization at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, STREAM helped HOK’s architectural and engineering team to quickly come up with dozens of alternatives to the airport’s masterplan base scheme that could be presented to the city. Using the software enabled the team to ensure that any variations from the masterplan could be validated and approved in time to meet the project’s accelerated schedule.

“If we were going to vary from the airport masterplan, we had a time limit of one month to do so,” says Breidenthal. “Using STREAM, we evaluated dozens of options to provide the client with four choices for the canopy design, and then optimized their final choice within a three-week timeframe. The resulting solution is a huge improvement in design quality that minimizes disruptions to the airport and its passengers, not to mention the millions of dollars in cost savings.”

In addition, the savings, speed and flexibility that STREAM brings to the design process aren’t lost on the client.


“The HOK team delivered a resounding series of design solutions for the airport’s high-profile modernization project,” says Gary Summerlin, design manager at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. “Multiple challenges ranging from complex existing conditions and attention to solutions that maintain uninterrupted operations were overcome with talent, energy and enthusiasm, combined with a commanding understanding and use of the current modeling technologies.”