Senior housing architecture and design specialists D2 Architecture announced that the firm is joining HKS, a global architecture and design firm headquartered in Dallas. D2 is also based in Dallas. The deal is one more signal that the future of senior housing will be shaped by companies with worldwide reach and significant resources.
HKS’ most famous development is AT&T Stadium, home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The firm also has practices dedicated to aviation, health care, hospitality, civic and cultural institutions, mission critical facilities and residential mixed-use properties.
Among its many projects, D2 was the architect for Ventana by Buckner, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Dallas consisting of twin 12-story towers which was awarded “Best CCRC Design” in the 2019 SHN Architecture and Design Awards.
D2 Founder and President David Dillard, Principal Grant Warner, and Associate Principals Siobhan Farvardin and Keith Wilson made the move to HKS. The rest of the D2 staff will join the firm in the coming months, as projects underway wrap up.
The move essentially launches HKS’ senior housing practice with a highly respected team of industry veterans at a time when many of its institutional clients seek opportunities in the space. And the firm’s design team is positioned to create synergies with the incoming D2 platform, HKS Global Director Kirk Teske told Senior Housing News.
A wider client base
HKS has completed some senior housing projects in the past. Absorbing the D2 platform gives it a built-in client base and the credibility to pursue senior housing projects of all sizes around the globe.
“We want to serve the clients that are the most influential in this particular market,” Teske said. “It’s not so much the projects that we’re looking for; it’s those quality clients.”
Bringing in D2 will also benefit HKS clients that are leveraging their scale and expertise in other real estate sectors in order to break into the senior housing space.
One client, Houston-based developer and owner Hines Interests, announced a partnership last year with MorningStar Senior Living to develop an assisted living and memory care facility in Houston’s tony River Oaks neighborhood. That project is one of many that will be co-developed by the two firms, MorningStar founder and CEO Ken Jaeger told SHN in August 2019. Hines is also working with other well-established senior housing players, including Watermark Retirement and Welltower (NYSE: WELL).
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Hines sees further opportunities to capitalize on future demand for senior housing. The firm has a robust multifamily pipeline, and its senior housing leader Ryan Pritchard envisions a future where traditional apartments are co-located with senior housing – in some cases even in the same building, he said during the recent Senior Housing News BUILD event.
HKS and Hines have a longstanding relationship. The developments the firm designed for Hines include CityCenterDC – Conrad, a mixed-use development in Washington, D.C. consisting of the Conrad Washington – a Hilton brand hotel – along with over 30,000 square feet of street-level retail.
D2, meanwhile, will benefit from the economies of scale HKS’ global reach affords, giving it a competitive edge for future projects that its leaders felt it was not landing at its current scale. It can also leverage HKS’ research and development team to identify future trends in senior housing and execute on them – a major selling point for Dillard.
“That depth was really attractive to me – to put more thought into what we could do,” he said.
Notably, several members of HKS’ R&D team are interested in participating in Project Sleepover, a concept forged by Dillard over 12 years ago where he and his staff would spend 24 hours at long-term care facilities in order to become more attuned to the needs of the seniors who will live there. Dillard credits the concept for helping D2 stay abreast of current design trends. While the concept has evolved over time, however, it has not grown at a rate he envisioned because of the firm’s smaller scale. The move to HKS gives Dillard the ability to perfect the concept.
“I’m going to finish this project, hell or high water, in the next year,” he said. “It’s taking that intimidating scale and shrinking it down to the appropriate size. Now I’ve got the help to do it.”
Teske believes that D2 will benefit from having a forward-thinking design team with which to trade ideas. Several years ago, HKS pledged to evolve past prototypical projects and have significant influence over the look and feel of the projects it is involved with. In particular, he sees strong synergies between D2 and HKS’ hospitality division, which does substantial work in branded residential projects.
“Their talent, combined with David’s team, is going to be phenomenal,” he said.