HOK Group Inc., a St. Louis-based architecture firm, is moving out of its long-term L.A. home in Culver City to the Arts District.
The company, which counts L.A. as a base of operations for many of its specialty sectors, had been in Culver City for more than 20 years.
HOK is moving to ROW DTLA, a mixed-use project in the Arts District with office, retail and restaurants. Other tenants at ROW include Shein, Fashionphile, Miro and Day One.
Anne Fletcher, managing principal in Los Angeles for HOK, said the new space would be helpful for the company’s future.
“Our lease was up for renewal and it was an opportunity to really look at who we are in 2022,” she said. “When we went there (Culver City), it was an outlier of a market 20 years ago. … We are a little removed and one of the things that we really thought about was did we want to be in a central business district, was that downtown Culver or downtown L.A., where was that and we realized who we wanted to be was a little different than who we have been for the last 20 years.”
Fletcher added that HOK wanted to plant its feet in a creative and emerging area, so the company began looking at various properties in downtown. The ROW, she said, had the creative feel the company wanted.
“We wanted to be in a creative community and one where there was a lot of growth and change and evolution. That’s what’s important for us is being part of the growth of L.A.,” Fletcher said. “The Arts District represents the future of the creative growth.”
Adaeze Cadet, HOK’s design principal, said that while its staffers were scattered around L.A., a lot of the junior staff lives on the Eastside making the new location more convenient for them.
Downtown, she added, allows the company to be closer to developers and property owners who have offices there. The new location, she said, has parking for everyone and is near public transit, something not every office has.
The physical footprint of the location is a bit smaller than HOK’s Culver City space but that doesn’t mean the company is downsizing.
“We’re having slightly smaller space but we are still keeping the same number of staff and are actually ramping up,” Cadet said. “We’re using the space more efficiently and the ROW allows us to do that.”
Cadet added that the new digs will have more outdoor space the company can use.
And the new space also fits into the company’s hybrid work strategy.
“We are approaching our return to the office and our long-term view of a company that it’s important that everyone gets exposed to the whole studio and the group,” Fletcher said.
While employees are working remotely twice a week, Fletcher said certain aspects of the design process need to be done in person as a team.
“We have to be together to do that. We function very well as a business remotely but its not how we do our design work or how we mentor our young people,” she said.
“While we are offering a lot of flexibility in terms of hours and people have a lot of choices. … It’s important we have the intensity of being together as a company,” she added.
HOK will be moving into the Arts District space later this year.
And the company plans to grow.
Fletcher said she expects to see a 15% to 20% staffing level increase in the next two to three years. The ROW, she said, gives the company the option of expanding nearby if need be.