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Bespoke Careers

28 July 2018

28 July 2018

HOK, London: Diverse, Sustainable, Principled.

The Culture of Practice

With its origins in America, HOK came to London nearly 30 years ago. Its 120-strong office in the capital shares the same fundamental principles as its US foundations: diversity in both sector and geography. The firm works across multiple disciplines and building types, from urban planning to architecture, interiors and consulting work. 

“The practice has a richness which attracts people to it,” says HOK’s Managing Principal Dan Hajjar. “Working here, you are not only doing one type of building. One day you might be working on a hospital and the next it could be a school.” 

He adds: “There is a stronger drive in London. It is more competitive. What is great about the London office is that we have a strong body of prestigious built work in the city.”

The teams – with the exception of the sports team who all sit together – sit in project clusters, moving as their schemes change. The management sits out on the office floor and there is a lot of interaction. Each week, design review sessions bring the whole office together.

Although the practice often explores different technologies – it used virtual reality in its presentation for the Barcelona Football Club – there is still a place for traditional drawing techniques in the studio. 

“People have become so used to seeing everything computerised that they actually love to see a freehand sketch,” comments Hajjar. “It has a different quality to it – a looseness. It is something that you don’t see very often. We try to use a combination of all these presentation methods.”

Despite being a large firm, it ensures younger staff have a place to grow. At the end of each year it welcomes in secondary schoolchildren to do a two-weeklong internship and this is often supported by more junior staff. “A lot of the intermediate talent have a desire to take on more responsibility,” concludes Hajjar. “The culture is one that has a lot of room for people to be entrepreneurial.”


Author: Molly McCloy, Marketing Coordinator, Bespoke Careers

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