Global architecture giant HOK returning to Denver

Posted by puguh on Saturday, February 5, 2011

Global architecture giant HOK returning to Denver. One of the world's biggest architecture firms is staking out Denver for a new office that will employ up to 70 people.

St. Louis-based HOK is returning to Denver after closing its office here during the economic downturn of the 1980s. It's looking for office space downtown for a number of its core practice areas, including aviation and transportation; science and technology; and health care, said Rebecca Nolan, senior vice president and managing principal of the firm.

"We're very high on Denver and the Front Range and all the things that are happening there," Nolan said. Companies that the firm works with on corporate accounts are expressing an interest in Denver, she said.

Nolan declined to name those considering opening offices here, saying only that they range from large corporations to professional and financial-services companies.

"Clearly, with the kind of international corporations that are investing in Denver, it would suggest that there is long-term confidence in the quality of the corporate environment," Nolan said. "We absolutely see it and feel it."

The company plans to recruit employees in Denver, rather than relocate them from other offices.

"It's very much about becoming part of the marketplace," Nolan said.

HOK employs more than 1,800 people in 25 offices on three continents.

The company already is working on several projects in Colorado, including the University of Colorado Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Building on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora; an energy retrofit of the Byron G. Rogers Federal Office Building and U.S. Courthouse in Denver; and the ConocoPhillips campus in Louisville.

Over the years, HOK has worked on a number of notable projects in Colorado, including the Alfred A. Arraj U.S. District Courthouse Annex, the University of Denver Penrose Library, the Solar Energy Research Institute Field Test Laboratory in Golden, the Sun Microsystems campus in Broomfield and the Adams County Justice Center in Brighton.

The company developed a reputation for its sports-venue design, but it spun off that part of its business in 2009.

HOK's expansion into Denver comes during a difficult time for architecture firms, said Mary Morissette, 2010 president of AIA Colorado.

"I don't see where the workload is going to be that will support that kind of growth here in the Colorado market," Morissette said. "This economy has just devastated our industry. I'm cautiously optimistic that things will improve, but in the developer/real estate market, there's just not a lot going on."

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