Every opinion counts at HOK. The 59-year-old firm embraces an interdisciplinary approach that values feedback from everyone: architects, engineers, planners and consultants. The resulting cross-pollination of free-flowing ideas and strategies produces innovative structures, some of which emulate the natural world to maximize sustainability.

"We want an integrated team, as opposed to consultants, embedded throughout the project process from start to finish," says Russ Drinker, a HOK senior vice president and San Francisco office management principal. "A more holistic design approach produces high performance results."

The approach was used to design the $188.8-million Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC), scheduled to open in November. The building's centerpiece, a three-story, 67,000-sq-ft terminal, uses four-and-a-half football fields of transparent pillow cladding made from ethylene tetrafluoroethylene, a lightweight but resilient plastic, to optimize daylighting and thermal efficiency for a 50% energy reduction. The 120-ft-tall building, on 15.7 acres, acts as a symbolic gateway for the Platinum Triangle, a prominent mixed-use development district that includes Angel Stadium and Honda Center. The arching terminal is supported by a diagrid pipe frame made up of 2,100 tons of structural steel and 1.5 miles of weld. The project is expected to achieve LEED-Platinum certification.

The "integrated design and modeling optimized the structure," said an American Institute of Architects jury, which gave the project an award for innovative BIM use that improved operational efficiency and helped deal with a compressed construction schedule and included 3D modeling of pedestrian and vehicular traffic patterns.

Transportation last year accounted for roughly one-third of HOK's $57 million of in-state revenue, supported by 300 employees across two offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The St. Louis-based company traveled to California in 1966 for the design of Stanford University's library in Palo Alto. HOK has since expanded its presence and reputation in the state through a diverse portfolio of progressive energy-efficient projects that include airports, corporate campuses, schools, medical facilities and science and technology buildings.

"Our charrette-like design process takes different viewpoints and combines them into an 'ask' session— art, science and knowledge—where intersecting input is synthesized and vetted," says the firm's San Francisco design director Paul Woolford.

HOK's uniquely comprehensive approach produced the campus master plan for Kaiser Permanente's $275-million Redwood City Medical Center. Organized around a new public open space, the scheme connects the city's business district to major streets and public transportation while restoring the Redwood Creek embankment. HOK additionally designed the first phase of a seven-story, 283,100-sq-ft replacement hospital with 149 beds.

"[We] were skeptical that HOK would be able to fit so many functionalities into a tight site with a building footprint almost one-third smaller than similar hospitals with as many patient beds," says Jeff Russell, project executive with Rudolph and Sletten, the hospital's general contractor. "But they pulled it off, working with us every step of the way to find attractive design solutions to every construction detail challenge."

The building uses bonded brace frame construction with diagonal beams to absorb lateral forces during an earthquake, thereby preventing buckling and subsequent structural steel failure. The solution, originally developed in Japan, has increasingly been used in the U.S. following the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Its use on the Kaiser Permanente project attracted a fact-finding delegation of engineers and physicians from earthquake-prone Turkey.