We believe that everyone can benefit from access to Great Design. That’s why a group of staff started our Full Circle Committee back in 2010 as an initiative to give back to the local community. Over the past 7 years, the committee has organized more than 70 charitable events and donated thousands of volunteer hours and tens of thousands of dollars in design services. Our recent time keeping initiative has improved our ability to track our efforts, which helped us earn 6th place in Washington Business Journal’s list of Small Corporate Philanthropists. This year we are shifting our focus to fewer, but bigger social impact design opportunities.

One of these endeavors is our long-term commitment to Miriam’s Kitchen, a local organization based in Foggy Bottom that is dedicated to ending chronic homelessness in DC. The organization focuses on providing meals to their guests, improving their health, increasing their income and helping them obtain housing. Hickok Cole’s relationship with Miriam’s Kitchen began in 2011 when our Full Circle Committee organized a monthly volunteer opportunity for staff to assist the Kitchen during the breakfast shift. Several years later, Miriam’s crew decided it was time for some much-needed upgrades to their space in order to better serve their guests and improve the volunteer experience. Being a design and architecture firm, we jumped at the chance to move from volunteering our time to volunteering our design expertise to help such an important organization. Thus, the Miriam’s Kitchen Refresh project was born.

“Our work to end homelessness always starts with relationships. The kitchen renovations create a great atmosphere that support the high-quality meals that are the start of our relationships with guests and the new kitchen environment supports our ability to build strong partnerships with our volunteers to end chronic homelessness in DC.”

— Adam Rocap, Miriam’s Kitchen, Deputy Director

Having worked as kitchen volunteers, we were all too familiar with the confusing arrival and check-in process. On average, Miriam’s welcomes 20 volunteers daily. Before the Refresh project, the volunteers had to trek through a very dark parking garage and come in through the back door. The Full Circle Committee focused on enhancing the volunteer experience by increasing wayfinding and brightening the kitchen and food service area. One of the main design elements used throughout the project is the wood pallet, a symbol of the thousands of pounds of food donated to Miriam’s each year. The Kitchen Refresh facilitates the food service and improves the image of Miriam’s Kitchen for both volunteers and guests with a design that reflects the quality of the meals and care the organization provides. Design plays a critical role in everyone’s life, whether we realize it or not, and with 250 people served daily, it was a perfect opportunity to positively impact so many through Great Design.

“The renovation created an open, brighter environment where our volunteers get to work AND highlight our greatest supporters.”

— Cheryl Bell, Miriam’s Kitchen, Executive Chef

Over the course of almost three years, staff architects and designers donated more than 300 hours and $30,000 in design services to Miriam’s Kitchen. The design work that Hickok Cole produced for Miriam’s certainly helped to upgrade their space, but it also allowed them to leverage our design to raise the funds necessary to pay for the improvements. Most significantly, the renderings produced allowed Miriam’s to secure a $100,000 single source donation from Boeing, which is the largest corporate gift they’ve ever received! We also hosted a fundraiser at our office which resulted in a further $48,800 raised for the Enrichen Our Kitchen campaign. All of the money went directly towards the Kitchen Refresh capital improvements. In addition, many of the materials were donated by manufacturers, and construction services were all donated by DPR Construction, Hospitality Construction Services, and their respective subcontractors. This really was a team effort!


This year Full Circle continues our mission and growth within Hickok Cole by pursuing the following goals:

  • Creating opportunities for our colleagues to engage outside of everyday work
  • Connecting more strongly with industry partners & sponsors
  • Establishing a firm-wide day of service
  • Donating 1% of billable hours to pro-bono projects
  • Researching solutions for large scale problems such as systemic homelessness & housing affordability

At Hickok Cole, we believe that designers have the opportunity to leverage use our unique and valuable skills to make a positive impact in our local community.

Anyone can donate a sweater, we can donate design.

— Full Circle Committee at Hickok Cole Architects

Organizations we have touched: