Hickok Cole Receives Just Label

And Just Like That.

We’re proud to announce that Hickok Cole has received its JUST Label 2.0 from the International Living Future Industry (ILFI). The transparent program measures how a participating organization performs against several key social justice indicators and produces a public label reporting on its progress. Led by Hickok Cole staff and supported by leadership, the grassroots initiative officially launched in January 2020 with the objective to demonstrate the firm’s commitment to building a better and more inclusive workplace for current and future employees.

“Our mission is about doing work that matters – through our project work and in our community. Just provided a formalized framework to measure our progress and ensure we’re walking the walk of the core values and culture we’ve established,” explained Laura Ewan, CPSM, Senior Associate and Director of Marketing and Communication. “Working towards this ambitious set of goals was both challenging and rewarding. We’re extremely proud of where we are today and the changes we made to get here. Now we’re looking forward to 2024 with clearly identified areas for improvement and growth that we can hold ourselves accountable for over the next two years.” 

The JUST label application process requires reporting on a range of organization- and employee-related indicators which outline measurable accountabilities for an organization to be recognized at four levels of performance. Just indicators include Diversity and Inclusion, Equity, Employee Health, Employee Benefits, Stewardship, and Purchasing and Supply Chain. When an organization receives its label, ILFI posts the detailed information in its publicly viewable database.

“In many ways, the JUST application process gave us a format to reevaluate our current policies and challenge the status quo. We sought to demonstrate how deeply we value our staff and proceeded to invest in the most impactful improvements to best align our operations with the personal, societal, and cultural aspiration of today’s workforce,” added John Bisch, Principal and CFO. “We want to be transparent about how we run our business and how we process feedback – and that extends to our clients and partners. We’re proud to join the global community of organizations embracing social equity and corporate responsibility. Hickok Cole is in great company.”

The intensive and highly collaborative application process united members from across the firm, including contributions from JUST label champions, leadership, committee chairs, and the accounting department while regularly informing and engaging staff at all levels. After nearly two years of documenting, analyzing, improving, and reporting on the firm’s performance, Hickok Cole received its official JUST 2.0 status and achieve the highest score for six social justice indicators:

  • Gender Diversity
  • Engagement
  • Full-Time Employment
  • Pay-Scale Equity
  • Gender Pay Equity
  • Volunteering

Hickok Cole plans to renew its label in two years, as required by ILFI. Now championed by the firm’s DEI Council, they have already made headway on strengthening efforts across several key indicators.

High-Performance Hot List: What to Know and Where to Begin

We’re committed to our role in securing a bright future for the next generation and stand alongside our industry partners to advocate for the urgent change needed to get there. This change requires constant and intentional learning by all parties involved–and transparency of lessons learned and impact achieved to help us get to smarter and more sustainable solutions faster. Our High-Performance Hot List leverages market research and project expertise for a holistic overview of the major high-performance strategies driving our collective response to climate change in hopes that today’s firsts become tomorrow’s standard. So read up, meet up, and let’s do this–together!

Stay tuned for latest info and efforts changing the way we work for the health of our people and planet. Want to learn more? Connect with us today.

Passive House is a thorough and comprehensive certification process designed to reduce a building’s energy consumption by an average of 40-60% over its lifetime. Contrary to what the name suggests, Passive House isn’t just for single-family homes and offers a greater potential for energy reduction in large multifamily and commercial projects. Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC®) Kate Braswell addresses the certification’s biggest misconceptions and what developers interested in leveraging its principles should consider instead.


Spoiler Alert: Recent data shows the overall cost increase to pursue Passive House certification in multifamily is only 0-3% over a building built to Energy Star baseline.

Having seen its potential for the environment and our client’s bottom line, we’re eager to mainstream mass timber in the building industry. Senior Designers Tom Corrado and John Lang describe what’s next for this sustainable material and why local government is crucial to securing its future.


Tour 80 M Street with Senior Designer Tom Corrado for insight into the project’s design and development process. Watch as Tom describes the deciding factor that ultimately led to creating Washington, DC’s first mass timber office renovation.


Jason Wright and Tom Corrado talk all things mass timber with ThinkWood, including tips for navigating code approvals, and why they chose to sacrifice density for design at 80 M Street.
Learn about the benefits of differentiating with mass timber at 80 M Street SE–the District’s first mass timber construction, scheduled to complete this May.

A net zero energy (NZE) building maximizes energy efficiency, consuming only as much as energy as it produces through renewable sources. To deliver the first net zero energy renovation in the District, Senior Designer and Director of Sustainability and High-Performance Design Gui Almeida worked with the American Geophysical Union project team to test dozens of sustainable strategies before landing on a custom mix, ideal for the headquarter’s urban environment.


A 117-panel solar array generates energy and provides shading for a rooftop amenity and event space with lush landscaping and sweeping city views.
A new connecting stair encourages activity while hydroponic phytoremediation (HyPhy) walls provide natural air filtration. Read all about it in Interior Design.

Embodied carbon accounts for a significant portion of the building industry’s greenhouse gas emissions yet remains an afterthought in most climate action discussions. As building policy and code evolve to include more stringent sustainability requirements, our partners share what the industry can do to move the needle towards carbon neutrality and net zero carbon projects today.


It’s generally assumed low carbon materials, including alternatives to steel and concrete, come at a premium–but we weren’t convinced. Design Director Elba Morales and Senior Project Architect Kerron Miller set out to test the true cost of embodied carbon on a real project site in Washington, DC. What they discovered has challenged their approach to material selection entirely.



Five Misconceptions About Passive House Certification

Passive House is a comprehensive certification process designed to significantly reduce a building’s energy consumption over its lifetime by an average of 40-60%. Detailed modeling of energy gains and losses takes into account a project’s location and climate, envelope area, occupant density, and other factors to determine the best strategy to achieve PHIUS certification goals.

Though the number of Passive House projects continues to rise, the certification process is not yet considered mainstream. Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC®) and Associate Kate Braswell is on a mission to change that. In honor of Earth Month, Kate shares five common myths about Passive House and what to consider instead before pursuing PHIUS certification on your next project.

Passive House incorporates a precise combination of envelope detailing and ventilation strategies to reduce the need for extraneous heating and cooling products while improving durability.

MYTH #1: Passive House is just for single-family homes

The term Passive House is actually a misnomer. While the certification can be applied to single-family homes (and is all over the world), it has greater potential for energy reduction in larger commercial and multifamily projects—even high-rises.

In fact, Passive House strategies are very well suited to small-to-medium density multifamily projects, with wood-frame buildings offering a unique advantage over their more thermally conductive steel or concrete counterparts. Likewise, the utility structure of affordable housing projects lends itself well to centralized systems with an efficient distribution. Many jurisdictions have gained a lot of traction by offering tax credits or similar subsidized funding strategies for sustainable and equitable housing.   

MYTH #2: Passive House only benefits the environment

Stringent construction and quality assurance processes are inherent to Passive House certification. This includes a precise combination of envelope detailing and ventilation strategies to reduce the need for extraneous heating and cooling products while improving durability. While this might present a challenge for the architectural team (one we’re up to!), it creates a series of unexpected benefits for building occupants, including premium indoor air quality, unmatched comfort regardless of exterior conditions, and more predictable utility costs.

MYTH #3: It’s more expensive than typical building processes

The cost of Passive House has reduced significantly thanks to a recent expansion in market adoption and will continue on that path as more owners and developers adopt it for their buildings. Furthermore, market demand for increased energy-efficient window and door options is driving down cost premiums. To date, the overall cost increase in multifamily is only 0-3% over a building built to Energy Star baseline.  

Passive House design principles—including an airtight envelope and a balanced heat-and-moisture recovery system—produce a durable building that’s resilient to extreme weather conditions. Subsequently, Passive House buildings require minimal long-term maintenance and system replacements, providing owners with impactful cost savings over time.

MYTH #4: Passive House and Net Zero Energy are the same thing

Net Zero Energy is more of an umbrella term used to describe the balance of a building’s energy use. Passive building principles focus on reducing operational energy through envelope and ventilation strategies at the building scale. From there, the road to zero is much shorter. In fact, PHIUS now has a PHIUS Zero certification to provide a roadmap for energy independence.

MYTH #5: Passive House certification is too complicated

Well, this isn’t exactly a misconception. As with any new endeavor, achieving goals is best done when all parties are present early. The first step is to engage a Certified Passive House Consultant (like Kate!) to act as the tour guide and liaison with PHIUS throughout the design and construction process. From there, getting all parties—the owner, architect, engineers, and general contractor—to align and test strategies together is key to a cohesive process from design to delivery.


Introducing Our 2022 iLAB Winners

Our iLAB microgrant program exists to promote research and innovation by investing in our team’s passion and curiosity to inform our Design for What’s Next culture. More a creative outlet beyond project work, iLAB explorations have served as the spark behind some of our most forward-focused work, including the net zero energy renovation of American Geophysical Union’s headquarters and the mass timber addition at 80 M Street—both major milestones for us and our region.

After a short hiatus (thanks, COVID), we’re proud to say that iLAB is back and better than ever. This year’s applicants inspired us with renewed energy and a shared focus on work that matters across a variety of scales. And after our traditional all-staff vote, the people have spoken and selected two winning topics with the potential to change the way we look at what goes into our projects when it comes to materials and uses. Without further ado, we are thrilled to announce this year’s iLAB winners. We invite you to learn more about their research in their own words and follow along with us all year as they make progress towards their goals.

Ethical Manufacturing

In her iLAB, Emily Everhope will explore manufacturing standards in the interior design marketplace, with a particular focus on ethical and Fair Trade practices to uncover the standards and stories behind the products we use. Emily’s goal is to establish a methodology that empowers the design community to discern and uphold best practices in material manufacturing and selection.

We forget that people are part of the natural environment and the more that we can connect with that, the mores sustainable everything will be.

Emily Everhope, Interior Designer

Vertical Opportunities

Leveraging their research on building types, zoning, and program adjacencies, iLab teammates Katherine Dorsey and Jack Lynch seek to define the future of vertical mixed-use developments. Katherine and Jack plan to create two market-specific prototypes that apply strategies designed to consider all stakeholders and support adaptation and building resiliency as needs evolve.

It’s valuable to do this kind of work because it gives everyone the opportunity to contribute to pushing the firm forward and to feel a sense of ownership.

Katherine Dorsey, Project Architect

Want to learn more or get involved? Connect with our team of experts today.  

The True Cost of Embodied Carbon

In 2021, Hickok Cole, Redbrick LMD, Arup, and DPR Construction were awarded a Building Innovation Grant from the Department of Energy and Environment to study the Lifecycle Analysis of Embodied Carbon for 1300 Sycamore Drive at St. Elizabeths Campus. Having recently delivered their report, we asked Design Director Elba Morales and Senior Project Architect Kerron Miller to share further insights on their findings and why grant opportunities like these are vital to driving what’s next in design.

Tell us about the value of grant programs when it comes to advancing adoption of high performance design strategies. Why did we pursue the Department of Energy and Environment’s (DOEE) Building Innovation Design Assistance grant?

We have a responsibility to seek out and test strategies to lessen the impact of our buildings on the environment. Some of these tools and methodologies may be newer to market or have yet to be applied early on to certain project typologies. These DOEE grants give us the opportunity and resources to study key areas of interest like energy performance or embodied carbon on real projects in ways beyond what we normally do for current project work. Throughout the process, we report back to the DOEE and receive feedback which provides valuable insight to both parties. There’s also a deliverable component so what we discover has a potential impact on future projects and research. We don’t design in a vacuum. The more depth of knowledge we have, the better our buildings are now and in the future.

How did you choose your area of study? What were you hoping to achieve by analyzing sources of embodied carbon?

Embodied carbon is a particularly important topic for our industry because it considers the lifecycle of a building and its components. It tells us how much greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere and how a specific project—and the material choices we make—contribute to global warming. However, it’s not something we typically assess during early stages of design, when decisions about the primary structure and envelope matter most. It’s generally assumed that low embodied carbon materials would come with a high premium, but we wanted to explore that idea further, and formulate a methodology to test alternative materials early on and evaluate cost in a broader conversation with our engineers, the owner, and the general contractor. 

What made 1300 Sycamore at St. Elizabeth’s Campus a good candidate to study?

The biggest factor in any project is to partner with a client whose goals align with yours. We were interested in pursuing this grant idea and our client Redbrick LMD was on board. They want to build projects with greater longevity and higher long-term value, which made our partnership ideal. The other important detail here is that this particular site is not constrained by surface area, which is super rare in DC. Our constraints were height and overall density which meant we could consider an alternative model with a larger floorplate and taller ceiling heights with cross laminated timber, without losing overall square footage.

How did you develop your methodology?

We sought to test materials at concept and early schematic design phase, so one of the hurdles was to find an appropriate software that allowed us to do that. Once we determined what software to use, we zeroed in on the primary structure and envelope as the most impactful components to analyze and ran a base scheme of typical assemblies against low carbon versions, generating live cost comparisons for each.

We used a European software because it was the best available option for what we were hoping to achieve. Europe closely regulates how manufacturers report their environmental product data (EPD), but we don’t see the same uniformity in the data from American manufacturers whose products we regularly use. This means added extra steps to understand their EPD and sufficiently compare systems. In this situation it wasn’t as cumbersome because we only looked at two components, but with each added component it would become more challenging and onerous—a problem for design teams often constrained by time. Our experience highlighted the need for uniformity in the American manufacturers’ reporting system. It’s our responsibility to hold each other accountable if we want to make progress in reducing our carbon footprint, but we can’t do this without proper data.

What was the outcome of your study? Do you foresee applying this knowledge to future projects?

We discovered the premium for leveraging low carbon materials was not as high as we anticipated and could be offset by a variety of other factors. For example, a change in the concrete mix dramatically decreased the embodied carbon in our base scheme (by 42%), far outweighing the 2% cost premium. While small changes like this could have a big impact, the use of cross laminated timber for the primary structure demonstrated the most potential value. When combined with the material’s significance as a differentiator in the marketplace, its cost could be offset by an extra $1.50 per square foot in rent.

This experience allowed us to attribute real metrics to embodied carbon and translate those findings into terms that resonated with our client’s objectives at a pivotal point in the design process. Working alongside a client who shared our vision was vital to the process, but so was teaming with partners whose experience and prior knowledge we could lean on. These multiple perspectives combined with actual data proved invaluable in producing meaningful results.

Download the full study to learn more about the embodied carbon lifecycle analysis of 1300 Sycamore.

The DOEE is currently accepting applications for Green Building Innovation Assistance Grants until February 23, 2022. Potential subjects range from net zero energy to deconstruction and reuse. Interested in partnering with us? Connect with our team of experts today.  

Hickok Cole Celebrates Spring 2022 Promotions

We are thrilled to kick off the new year by recognizing the accomplishments of our team. Today, we celebrate the promotion of several firm leaders, including Starr Ashcraft, AIA to Associate Principal.

“As a firm, we know our success is dependent on that of our staff so when we see talent, we recognize it,” said Mark Ramirez, Principal and Managing Director. “By promoting a culture of recognition, we seek to empower our staff to take on new challenges and growth opportunities. The individuals we celebrate today exude the kind of dedication and passion we strive for as a community and our work is that much better for it.”

Starr Ashcraft has been with Hickok Cole since 2008 and leads wood frame projects for our housing group. She specializes in urban multifamily and low-rise mixed-use buildings that combine wood frame efficiencies with high-design aesthetics to distinguish these projects in the marketplace. Her most notable projects include The Current, Kite House at Walter Reed, Charlton at The Mile, and Block Eye at West End, part of the Landmark Mall redevelopment.

“Starr has been instrumental in driving and developing our wood frame project work, a major growth area important to Hickok Cole and the housing market at large,” said Laurence Caudle, Principal and Director of Housing. “Her commitment and care go beyond what is expected to encompass improving design standards, elevating detailing, and educating the next generation of architects. Starr’s impact directly correlates to our roster of repeat clients, and I have full confidence that her vision will continue to build upon our success and position us favorably for future opportunities.”

We are also proud to promote Jamie Mitchell and Rosa McTaggart, AIA, LEED AP BD+C to Senior Associate and Ava Busler and Randy Stogsdill to Associate. These firm leaders are recognized for both their project excellence across market sectors as well as their involvement in extracurricular staff-led initiatives that strengthen and support our firm culture and values.

Hickok Cole Expands Design Leadership Team

Senior Associates Tammy Lippman and Patrick Gegen promoted to Design Director positions.

Today, we celebrate the promotion of Senior Associates Tammy Lippman and Patrick Gegen to Design Director positions. They join Elba Morales and Stefano Sani as design leaders tasked with promoting an innovative design culture across practices and enhancing the framework of principles underpinning our project work.

“Tammy was an obvious choice for the role. She has innate creativity that emanates from her designs and lends a boutique, curated quality to a project, regardless of its size or budget,” says Mike Hickok, Senior Principal. “Her artistic eye and dedication to delivering one-of-a-kind custom details are major assets when it comes to property differentiation within the competitive DC marketplace. We look forward to seeing Tammy instill this art-driven strategy into our collective design approach and encouraging more of our clients to do so as well.”

Tammy joined Hickok Cole in 2006 as an interior designer focusing on multifamily, mixed-use, retail, and hospitality projects. During her tenure, she has also worked on a range of corporate interior projects for build-to-suit, government, spec suites, associations, and nonprofit organizations. Tammy graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design from Virginia Commonwealth University and received a Certificate of Fine Art from the Governor’s School for the Arts. An experienced artist, Tammy leverages her fine arts background to provide thoughtful art curation and custom pieces that differentiate her projects within the marketplace. Her most notable work of late includes The Earl Apartments, 1133 15th Street, The Batley, and Evo and Pierce at The Highlands (opening in 2022).

“In the short time Patrick has been at the firm, he has left an astonishing impression on our partners and staff with a strong design voice that is clearly articulated in his work,” says Yolanda Cole, Senior Principal. “He is a talented storyteller with his finger on the pulse of the Richmond marketplace and a keen ability to identify the trends that resonate most with our key audiences. Moreover, Patrick is a natural mentor and has already shown a commitment to sharing his expertise and shepherding junior designers towards success.”

Patrick has over 15 years of international experience and a diverse portfolio specializing in branded workplace, retail, and hospitality projects. Originally from North Carolina, Patrick resided in New York City for over a decade working on large flagship retail stores and workplaces for Fortune 500 firms before relocating to Washington, DC. He joined our Richmond studio at the start of 2020 where he currently focuses on crafting highly unique and tailored environments for commercial office and multifamily clients. A dedicated educator, Patrick has served as an adjunct faculty member at the New York School of Interior Design and Virginia Commonwealth University School of Arts. He holds a Master of Architecture degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a concentration in urbanism as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Art History from the College of Charleston. His most recent work includes interiors for NAEYC, public spaces at 80 M Street NE, Care Hospice executive offices in Charlottesville, and Richmond’s Salisbury Country Club.


Designer Studio: Meet Rhea Vaflor

Get to know Associate Principal and Director of Trendcasting Rhea Vaflor in this one-of-a-kind interview with Price Modern.

Can’t get enough of Rhea? Check out her latest projects, read her interview with Design Milk, or connect with her directly.

Building Responsibly with Mass Timber

Step inside 80 M Street with Senior Designer Tom Corrado for a behind-the-scenes look at DC’s first mass timber addition—and what it took to get here.

Considering mass timber for your next project? Get in touch with our experts.

*Created in partnership with Think Wood as part of its Sawmill to Site series.

Hickok Cole Celebrates Art Night’s Return at New HQ

Hosted in partnership with Washington Project for the Arts (WPA), Art Night has raised over $1.5 million in support of the DC arts community.

Washington, DC—November 2, 2021—Last month, Hickok Cole celebrated its 21st Art Night in the firm’s recently delivered headquarters near Union Market, raising $132,824 in support of WPA and the local arts community. During the pandemic, Art Night became Art Month with the fundraiser’s first online gallery and digital campaign, garnering the annual collection its biggest audience to date. This year’s event built on old and new traditions to bring artists, collectors, and the DC real estate community together—in person and online—for a unique celebration of art. 

“While it didn’t look the same as a typical year, this year’s Art Night was special in its own way. The first one in our new home, it exceeded our expectations and made us feel united once again,” said Senior Principal Mike Hickok. “We are very grateful for the unwavering support and generosity of our Art Night patrons. Knowing we could count on them to return and celebrate with us this year demonstrates how deeply ingrained Art Night is within our community.”

On October 21st, Hickok Cole welcomed sponsors, artists, and staff to celebrate the launch of the online gallery and view the collection on display throughout the firm’s new 25,000-SF office. This year’s collection featured over 70 local artists and more than 200 works curated by WPA. With Hickok Cole’s relocation in July, the team made a concerted effort to feature the work of artists from the Union Market neighborhood, including emerging and established artists from Howard University, Gallaudet University, and The Catholic University of America. They joined new faces and long-time favorites for a collection of diverse voices, backgrounds, and creative points of view. At a variety of price points across mediums, the gallery brought together compelling and affordable pieces for experienced and aspiring collectors alike. As always, 100% of sales benefited WPA and the artists directly, with all proceeds shared equally between the two. 

“NoMa’s creative culture and reputation as the District’s mural capital were some of the main reasons we found it so appealing,” said Senior Principal Yolanda Cole. “We designed our new office with Art Night in mind, knowing the event would thrive in this new environment and that we’d encounter a treasure trove of local artists already embedded in the community. Engaging with and supporting these artists who call our neighborhood home is a tradition we have every intention of keeping.”  

Art Night is made possible through the support of sponsors—Art Devils, Art Angels, and Art Cherubs—who pre-committed to purchase artwork. As part of their VIP experience, each Devil worked directly with Schwanda Rountree of Rountree Art Consulting to identify art for purchase prior to the virtual gallery opening. This year, Hickok Cole garnered its highest level of participation at the Devil and Cherub levels, contributing to a record-breaking pre-event commitment of $102,500.

2021 Art Devils ($5,000)

Jennifer + Brian Coulter
DAVIS Construction
Grunley Construction Company
Hickok Cole
HITT Contracting, Inc.
Michelle & Rick Scurfield
Kathryn & Rob Stewart

2021 Art Angels ($2,500)

Above Green
Betsy Young + John Benziger
Bognet Construction
Boston Properties
Clark Construction
Herman Miller
Lantian Development
Lincoln Property Company
Oehme Van Sweden
Snell Properties
WC Smith

2021 Art Cherubs ($500)

Anthony Balestrieri
Louise Boulton-Lear
Jay Brinson
Noel Carson
Ashley Cox
Laura Ewan + Mark Palmer
Javid Farazad
Courtney Hansen-Richards + David Richards
Paul + Ellen Hoff
Rob Holzbach + Jamie Underwood
Fiona + Phil Huber
Jean + John Lange
Ginny Lee
Dierdre Ehlen MacWilliams
Clint Mann
Jodie McLean
John + Maryann Montgomery
Rory + Lauren Pillsbury
Andrea + John Schippers
Brant Snyder

Hickok Cole Creative designed and developed all promotional materials for the virtual campaign and physical signage for the in-person event inspired by graphic trends, current events, and Hickok Cole’s new space. In partnership with the Hickok Cole marketing team, they crafted a month-long social media campaign consisting of behind-the-scenes content, artist interviews, and process videos to promote the online gallery and facilitate direct connection and engagement with the artists and their work.  

Interested in joining our heavenly host of sponsors for Art Night 2022? Connect with Laura Roth to learn more.  

About Hickok Cole
Hickok Cole is a forward-focused design practice connecting bold ideas, diverse expertise, and partners with vision to do work that matters. Informed by research and fueled by creative rigor, we look beyond today’s trends to help our clients embrace tomorrow’s opportunities. We’ve called DC home for more than 30 years, and are proud to have designed homes for some of the area’s leading organizations, including National Geographic, the International Spy Museum, and American Geophysical Union’s net-zero headquarters renovation.

About Washington Project for the Arts
Washington Project for the Arts (WPA) is a not-for-profit visual arts organization that supports artist-driven projects, advocacy, and dialogue so that artists can live, work and flourish.