April 20, 2010 09:00 ET

HOK 'Advanced Collaboration Rooms' Support Global Teamwork While Reducing Carbon Emissions

State-of-the-Art Technology Enables 14 HOK Offices on Three Continents to Reduce Air Travel and Bring Architectural Collaboration to a New Level

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - April 20, 2010) -  Sophisticated technology is enabling global architectural firm HOK to foster dynamic, real-time collaboration among multi-office project teams while reducing the firm's overall environmental footprint. Operating within 14 of HOK's global offices, "Advanced Collaboration Rooms" (ACRs) combine Cisco's TelePresence high-resolution, interoperable videoconferencing technology with PolyVision's Thunder Virtual Flipchart System. The integrated system enables the firm's project teams worldwide to conduct videoconferencing meetings while designers sketch ideas and collaborate in real time.

Participants can display images, videos, documents and live views of computer desktops as part of design charrettes, design reviews, client presentations and project status updates. Using a series of projectors in each ACR, multiple ideas can be displayed at one time, and all meeting notes and documents can be instantly saved, printed and emailed to all participants.

"Our ability to bring HOK's best creative minds together during real-time ACR meetings is a powerful new tool for our virtual design teams -- and our clients," says HOK CEO Patrick MacLeamy. "Not only are we bringing a whole new level of collaboration and efficiency to the architectural design process, but we're also reducing our carbon footprint by minimizing the need for air travel."

The ACRs are helping HOK achieve its goal of reducing carbon emissions in its projects and practice by 50 percent by the end of 2010. In 2009, HOK achieved a 27 percent reduction in carbon emissions within its operations.

The firm's meeting scheduling process requires users to record potential flights saved through use of the ACRs. In February 2010, an estimated 571,596 pounds (259,276 kg) of CO2 -- or 204 flights -- were saved by avoiding travel between HOK offices.

"Our use of enhanced virtual technology is a high-impact strategy to help us shrink our carbon footprint," says HOK Sustainable Design Director Mary Ann Lazarus. "A jet airliner emits nearly 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per passenger per 1,000 miles of travel. And because planes emit carbon dioxide, water vapor and nitrogen oxides high in the atmosphere, their emissions contribute to climate change at about three times the rate of emissions from cars."

A team of several hundred people from 11 offices successfully used Thunder technology in the design of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) project in Saudi Arabia. KAUST was the largest HOK project ever undertaken and is the world's largest LEED-NC Platinum project.

Other examples of recent ACR sessions include:

  • A series of virtual design charrettes for HOK designers and consultants to create a market-rate zero emissions office building in midtown St. Louis.
  • Weekly collaborations among project team members in Florida and Atlanta on the design of the Oregon Health Sciences University Vaccine and Gene Therapy project in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
  • Monthly Advance Engineering Summits involving participants in St. Louis, Houston and San Francisco.
  • A virtual "think tank" on law firm trends, drivers and design issues. Participants included individuals in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, London, Washington, D.C. and St. Louis.

ACRs are operational at HOK offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Hong Kong, Houston, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Singapore, St. Louis, Tampa, Toronto and Washington, D.C. The firm's Beijing and Shanghai offices employ the Thunder system.

HOK is a global architectural firm that specializes in planning, design and sustainable solutions for buildings, communities and organizations. Through its collaborative network of 23 offices worldwide, the firm serves diverse clients within the corporate, commercial, public and institutional markets. HOK is committed to developing resources and expertise to help lead the world toward sustainable communities and building environments. Founded in 1955, the firm's expertise includes architecture, engineering, interiors, planning, sustainable consulting, lighting, graphics, facilities planning and assessment and construction services.

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