|HOK designers from around the globe are able to collaborate and interact in real time in the fi rm’s new Advanced Collaboration Rooms. The high-tech videoconferencing spaces allow users to display (in high defi nition) and mark up multiple project-related documents simultaneously.|
9. HOK Takes Videoconferencing to A New Level with its Advanced Collaboration Rooms
To help foster collaboration among its 2,212 employees while cutting travel time, expenses, and carbon emissions traveling between its 24 office locations, HOK is fitting out its major offices with prototype videoconferencing rooms that are like no other in the U.S.
HOK's Advanced Collaboration Rooms (ACR) combine Cisco's TelePresence high-resolution, interoperable videoconferencing technology with PolyVision's Thunder Virtual Flipchart System—a sort of digital easel pad that allows HOK designers to sketch ideas and "virtually" hang them in multiple ACRs so the entire team can collaborate in real time.
Thunder allows users to display images, video, documents, and even live views of computer desktops. Using a series of projectors and flat-screen TVs in each ACR, multiple ideas and documents can be displayed at one time, and all meeting notes can be saved, printed, and emailed instantly to participants."The ability to bring HOK's best creative minds together in these ACRs is a powerful new tool for our virtual design teams," says HOK CEO Patrick MacLeamy, who led the effort to develop the ACR concept. ACRs are currently installed at seven HOK offices, with six more installations planned this year.
Collaboration tools are big at AEC firms. Architecture firm Perkins Eastman links its 13 offices worldwide through its award-winning proprietary intranet system, ORCHARD, which stands for "Online Resource for the Creative Harvest of Architecturally Relevant Discovery" (catchy, isn't it?). ORCHARD unites the firm's Practice Area Communities to share best design practices, insights, and lessons learned. More on Perkins Eastman's ORCHARD 
Over at AEC giant Heery International, "e-communities" enable partnering between the firm's offices around the country. Interior designer Judy Peterson used the e-community to get feedback on whether a project should use LEED-CI alone, or LEED-CI with LEED for Core & Shell. The decision: CI only. More on Heery's e-communities 
Engineering firm Walter P Moore created its "Communities of Practice" in 2008 to share expertise across its 13 offices. The "COPs"—in its healthcare, sports, aviation, parking consulting, and tall buildings practices—are staffed on a voluntary basis. The healthcare COP, with 27 volunteers, formed its own Medical Equipment Task Group to inventory medical equipment used in hospital projects. "It's great, because the folks in Houston and Florida who have seen every MRI known to man can pass that along to our new offices in California," says Kurt Young, PE, LEED AP, leader of WPM's healthcare COP. More on Walter P Moore's Communities of Practice