Six Ground-Breaking Designs Recognized as HKS 2023 Top Projects

In 2023, HKS team members around the world celebrated big accomplishments — the firm’s exciting commitment to carbon neutrality, several industry-leading awards, and pioneering research about designing for brain health to name a few.  

These achievements demonstrate how the HKS values of relationships, character and purpose inspire transformative places and ideas that can shape a better future. But perhaps no HKS initiative better showcases how designers are collaborating to enhance peoples’ lives than the firm’s annual Top Projects program. 

Every year, design teams from each of HKS five practice sectors — Community, Innovation, Interiors, Place and Venues — create Top Projects submissions that tell stories about how they pursued design excellence in their project processes and outcomes. Now in its eighth year, the program represents how HKS teams serve clients and communities through equitable, sustainable and innovative design and how they can strive to become better designers. 

“Top Projects is our opportunity for HKS to live out our goals and become the type of firm we want to be, to be critical of our work and to engage our peers to help us evaluate gaps we may have,” said HKS Chief Design Officer, Anthony Montalto. 

From ground-up buildings to master plans and interior designs to research efforts, nearly every type of project HKS teams work on was eligible for consideration as a Top Project. HKS committee members and seven jurors from the broader AEC industry evaluated nearly 130 submissions and awarded six projects that balance beauty and performance through the power of design. 

The 2023 HKS Top Projects are: 

Top Project of the Year: Edison House 

The 2023 Top Project of the Year, Edison House, breaks the mold of traditional social clubs. Located in Salt Lake City’s Warehouse District, the building reflects its industrial surroundings and features a offers a welcoming experience for all who pass by or enter the social club’s doors. Challenged by a narrow site and complex building program, the design team created dynamic interior spaces that balance openness and intimacy for a variety of social activities. 

“One thing I truly appreciated about this project is its transparency and the way it touches the ground and invites everyone in the community to peek in. It’s a great project,” said Top Projects external juror Mandi Chapa, an urban planner at Huitt-Zollars. 

Community Sector Top Project: Moody Outpatient Center at Parkland Hospital 

The 2023 Community Sector Top Project, the Moody Outpatient Center at Parkland Hospital, features 24 multispecialty clinics that serve a daily population of 800 patients. The treatment center, which won an AIA Healthcare Design Award in 2023, offers a comfortable experience for patients, visitors, staff and clinicians with natural light streaming through a high-performance glass exterior, easy-to-navigate circulation patterns, and an abundance of welcoming waiting areas. 

“This project did an incredible job of connecting to the context and incorporating a variety of people in the process. It shows that standardization can be really beautiful,” said external juror Stephanie Travis, Program Head of Interior Architecture and Associate Professor at George Washington University. “It’s a timeless, elegant building.” 

Innovation Sector Top Project: Unearthing the Blackland Prairie 

The 2023 Innovation Sector Top Project, Unearthing the Blackland Prairie, is a special project developed for the 2024 HKS Global Design Fellowship. In response to a prompt that asked  fellows to explore how to create design solutions for the endangered Texas Blackland Prairies, the project team proposed a regenerative composting facility and program to enhance the integrity of soil, inspired by the digestive process of termites. 

“This is not only an innovative idea — it is also an important subject matter. It pushes forward thinking…and is meaningful and beautiful,” said Chapa. 

Interiors Sector Top Project: Travel Company Workplace

The 2023 Interiors Sector Top Project, a travel company workplace, is an adaptive re-use of an airport terminal. The workplace design emphasizes connection and authenticity of place, honoring the original use of the airport building as well as the client’s brand mission to provide dynamic experiences. Prioritizing holistic employee well-being, the design team created a sustainable environment with abundant access to natural light, healthy materials, and a variety of workstation options and social hubs. 

“We felt this was a really wonderful adaptive reuse project,” said juror Karen Robichaud, founder of Karen Robichaud LLC, Strategy + Communications. “It very clearly presents ‘before and after’ and the team made it really evident who this was for and how its working now.” 

Place Sector Top Project: The 2023 Asian Games Athlete Village Waterfront Mixed-Use

The 2023 Place Sector Top Project, Asian Games Athlete Village Waterfront Mixed-Use, served as a gateway for the 2023 Asian Games, which took place earlier this year. Located in Hangzhou, China, the development creates a vibrant and publicly accessible waterfront rooted in Chinese culture with a design inspired by paintings of the traditional riverside Qingming Festival. The vision for the project’s mixed-use buildings includes long-term adaptation to suit the residential, business, and entertainment needs of its community. 

“This project occupies a very current place in our discourse because of its adaptive reuse potential and future tense possibilities,” said Top Projects juror David Staczek, Principal and Senior Designer at ZGF Architects. “It’s a large project, but its successful at all scales.” 

Venues Sector Top Project: Es Con Field Hokkaido 

The 2023 Venues Sector Top Project, Es Con Field Hokkaido, is a state-of-the art arena and home to the Nippon-Ham Fighters Japanese baseball team. The design team created a venue that celebrates Eastern and Western cultures and honors the region’s history of migration and trade. The ballpark features a peaked, operable roof and diverse amenities for visitors including a food hall inspired by the traditional Japanese Yokocho, community gardens, a children’s play field, and an integrated hotel.  

“No one on the jury has ever seen a ballpark like this,” said Travis. “It really connects to history and context with such a strong concept that is executed beautifully.” 

Pushing Design Excellence Forward 

In addition to the six Top Projects winners, jurors also bestowed special honors upon several other initiatives including the HKS and AIA Resilience Design Toolkit, Living Lab Research at HKS’ Atlanta Office as well as buildings and masterplans currently in development with clients across the globe. 

The 2023 Top Projects represent HKS’ vision to positively influence the AEC industry and serve as a beacon for what’s to come in the years ahead as HKS designers help create thriving communities around the globe. 

“I’m proud of the tremendous Top Projects work and what it represents for HKS,” said Gracie Andraos, HKS Director of Design, Interiors. “It’s a fantastic culmination of what we’ve done this year and where we’re striving to go.” 

2023 Top Projects HKS Committee Members: 

Anthony Montalto – Chief Design Officer; Gracie Andraos – Director of Design, Interiors; Diana Araoz-Fraser – Senior Interior Designer; Jason Fleming – Studio Design Leader; Karl Gustafson – Architect, Rand Ekman – Chief Sustainability Officer; Yiselle Santos Rivera – Global Director of Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion; Bernita Beikmann – Chief Process Officer; Julie Hiromoto – Director of Integration; Leah Ray – Director of Content; Upali Nanda – Global Practice Director, Research; James Frisbie – Art Director 

Mandi Chapa – Urban Planner, Huitt-Zollars; Panji Grainger – Managing Principal, Buro Happold; Ray Huff – Architect and Educator, Retired, Chris Morrison – Managing Director and Principal, Perkins & Will; Karen Robichaud – Founder, Karen Robichaud LLC, Strategy + Communications; David Staczek – Principal and Senior Designer, ZGF Architects; Stephanie Travis – Program Head of Interior Architecture and Associate Professor, George Washington University