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Based in HOK’s Washington, D.C., studio, Emily McGowan, Assoc. AIA, LEED GA, blends her experience with healthcare design with her passion for global health equity to shape projects across the world.
Excerpted from Healthcare Design:
In 2016, McGowan was awarded a fellowship with Global Health Corps, a leadership development organization focused on health equity, and worked at MASS Design Group developing prototype hospitals and infrastructure standards with the Ministry of Health in Kigali, Rwanda. She continues to support her passion for global health equity in the built environment through her work at HOK.
What drew you to a career in healthcare design?
Designers make consequential decisions about which resources are leveraged and who is empowered within the design process. Understanding that our role as architects extends beyond traditional practice and viewing it as an opportunity to advocate for social change is what drives me to choose this profession every day.
What’s one recent project that you’re most proud of?
While at HOK, I’ve had the privilege of working on the design of UPMC’s Vision and Rehabilitation Institute in Pittsburgh. One of the highlights in my career is working on the project with consultant Chris Downey, who lost his sight as a practicing architect 10 years ago. The most valuable lesson UPMC taught me was to actually “unlearn” a lot of preconceptions I had about the design process and accessibility within the built environment. Inclusive design is the outcome of collaborating with the right representation as well as understanding that even the smallest detail can have a profound impact on creating a holistic and healthy solution for everyone.
What do you think is the number one issue facing the healthcare design industry in 2019?
We are seeing disruptive technological innovation, fractured political frameworks and environmental acceleration completely change the way healthcare is experienced worldwide. We also are witnessing the rapid forces of globalization and retailing of healthcare impact how services are delivered and to whom. As the competing demands for personalized care and collective agency in healthcare grows within a shrinking world, gaps continue to widen. This carries profound implications on equity and the way we craft our future healthcare delivery environments.