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HOK’s Emily McGee Wins AIA 2022 Associates Award

Nyarugenge District Hospital, Kigali, Rwanda
Grady Center for Advanced Surgical Services Clinical Waiting Concourse, Atlanta, Georgia
UPMC Vision and Rehabilitation Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Emily and others discuss Zanmi Lasante O.R. suite renovations during a design charrette in Cange, Haiti

The award recognizes outstanding leaders and creative thinkers for significant contributions to their communities and the architecture profession.

Emily McGee, Associate AIA, LEED GA, a healthcare designer and medical planner in HOK’s Washington, D.C., studio, is one of just three people to be honored this year with an American Institute of Architects Associates Award.

“This is such a huge honor,” said McGee. “I am humbled and excited to represent HOK, and to have had such wonderful support along the way.”

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“Emily connects community, formulates resilient design solutions and ultimately fosters dignity for the patients, families, and staff she designs for,” wrote Brenna Costello, AIA, in a letter nominating McGee for the Associates Award. “Speaking as the current 2021 President of AIA Academy of Architecture and Health, Emily exhibits the very best of the next generation of leaders in the healthcare design industry and has already displayed significant impact on the profession.”

Since joining HOK’s Washington, D.C., office in 2017, McGee has proven to be an integral part of the firm’s Healthcare design practice. Her contributions have improved health care access for underserved communities across the U.S., and her background in global health care design has allowed her to use design thinking to create inclusive healing environments. In her role, she often engages with patients, staff, and community representatives, leading her to advocate for a design process that uplifts key voices by focusing on local knowledge and creativity.

McGee’s patient-first approach was crucial in the design of the UPMC Vision and Rehabilitation Tower, which serves the Pittsburgh region’s visually impaired and rehabilitative patient populations. She collaborated with Chris Downey, AIA, a practicing architect who lost his sight in 2008, to translate the complex needs of users into a building that thoughtfully addresses the patient experience at all scales.

McGee’s unique outlook was shaped by a number of transformative global design experiences that demonstrated the impact good design can make on global health equity. In 2010, she traveled to 30 different countries carrying a 90-liter backpack as a participant in Ball State College of Architecture and Planning’s Polyark World Tour program. In 2016, she was awarded a Global Health Corps fellowship and worked with nonprofit firm MASS Design Group in Kigali, Rwanda. There she worked with the country’s Ministry of Health to formalize its national healthcare infrastructure guidelines, which eventually led to the design and construction of two prototype hospitals.

“On our design team, we see Emily as the ‘conscience’ of the project, constantly campaigning for dignity and community outreach,” said Scott Rawlings, a global director of Healthcare at HOK. “Her energy, combined with her quickly strengthening influence in the firm, is driving our projects to a higher level of social awareness.”

McGee and the other winners will be honored at the AIA Conference on Architecture 2022 in Chicago from June 22-25.

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