In 2009 and 2010, HEALTHCARE DESIGN’s December issue was home to a list of the 25 Most Influential People in Healthcare Design. The process was relatively straightforward: We accepted nominations from the general public via our website, and a short list was compiled based on the presented names. This short list was in turn presented to our Editorial Advisory Board, our publishing partners at The Center for Health Design, and our editorial team for final voting.

While we do feel that the list was representative of the best and brightest in the healthcare design industry, it was also missing something; we only asked for and published the most basic information on the nominees—name, title, organization. Readers would have no idea why these people were influential, nor would there be any compelling criteria outlined to the public as to who should be nominated or why. In short, we decided that our system needed an overhaul.

The voting body that chooses the list has remained the same, but the nomination form was made much more robust. We asked for reasons why the nominees were being presented, as well as evidence of recent projects that would show why the nominees were influential to today’s industry and not merely named out of respect or reputation. We did away with the default number of 25 and decided to merely let the final voters pick those they felt were actually worthy, rather than asking them to adhere to a dictated quota.

The results can be seen below: our list of the Most Influential People in Healthcare Design in 2012. There are eight names on the list, presented in alphabetical order and unranked. Each is accompanied by text justifying their placement here, and interviews with each member of the list will appear on our website over the coming days; each interview will also be linked in the text below as it is posted.

I invite you to read through this year’s list and join me in congratulating the eight people named therein. They are leading lights in the field, and I am proud to acknowledge their contributions to advancing the field of healthcare design.

-Todd Hutlock


(Presented in Alphabetical Order)

David Allison, FAIA, ACHA

Professor of Architecture and the Director of Graduate Studies in Architecture + Health, Clemson University

As the leader of the healthcare architecture program at Clemson, David Allison has demonstrated ongoing leadership with his students while managing what is arguably the most comprehensive professional degree program concentrating on architecture and health. The program focuses on integrating design, scholarship, and research in healthcare environments, and has won many national awards, as have the students themselves. He has also taken a national leadership role among all of the universities that specialize in healthcare architecture, with the aim of providing a complete picture of healthcare design education in the United States.

A registered architect in three states, Allison was a founding member of the American College of Healthcare Architects and the Coalition for Health Environments Research, and is a member of the Leadership Council of the AIA Academy of Architecture for Health. Allison is training tomorrow’s healthcare architects and researchers today and, as such, his influence will be seen for generations to come.

Click here to read an interview with David Allison.


Principal and Healthcare Global Interior Design Leader, Perkins+Will

Tama Duffy Day is internationally recognized in the creation of therapeutic environments, with a keen interest in the measurable effects of designed environments on health improvement. Through her prominent role on the national design scene, she raises awareness of these issues across the healthcare industry. Her innovative interior design work has yielded many design awards, and she has been elected to both the IIDA and ASID’s prestigious College of Fellows.

While Duffy Day’s work as a design leader has been published, awarded, and recognized consistently over the course of her career, her ability to mentor and inspire is also worthy of recognition. She is active in educating the next generation of designers, participating on the advisory board of several interior design schools, and frequently lecturing and providing peer reviews.

Duffy Day influences the healthcare design industry on multiple levels. Through her speaking, coaching, and mentoring, she touches lives and inspires people to find and keep their passion. Through her writing and research, she seeks to make sense of the relationship between place and health. And, of course, through her design work, she influences the healthcare design community on a physical level that knows few peers.

Click here to read an interview with Tama Duffy Day.

D. Kirk Hamilton, FAIA, FACHA, EDAC

Associate Professor of Architecture, Center for Health Systems and Design, Texas A&M University

D. Kirk Hamilton is a renowned thinker and innovator, a longtime leader in the healthcare design community who continues to restlessly investigate, analyze, and discuss forthcoming trends and best practices via the multiple roles he plays.

As co-founder and editor of the HERD Journal, Hamilton has brought true healthcare design research to the public via long-form research pieces that dive deep into the subject at hand to a level seldom found in other publications.

As a professor at Texas A&M University, Hamilton has a significant role in the future of healthcare design through his work with the next generation of healthcare architects.

Hamilton also conducts his own ongoing research, with a primary interest in the study of the relationship between evidence-based design of healthcare facilities and measurable organizational performance.

In addition, Hamilton was a founding principal at Watkins Hamilton Ross Architects, Inc. (originally Watkins Carter Hamilton Architects, Inc., and currently known as WHR Architects, Inc.), in Houston, Texas, working there from 1983 to 2004. As the firm’s healthcare practice leader for national and international hospital clients, Hamilton was responsible for healthcare business development, visioning, strategy, master planning, schematic design, and medical planning.

Many in the healthcare design field would be proud to have the above represent their entire career; Hamilton shows no signs of resting on his laurels.

Click here to read an interview with D. Kirk Hamilton.

John Kouletsis, AIA, EDAC

National Director of Strategy, Planning & Design, Kaiser Permanente, National Facilities Services

John Kouletsis is the national director of strategy, planning, and design with Kaiser Permanente’s National Facilities Services (NFS) in Oakland, California. As the largest managed care organization in the United States, Kaiser Permanente (KP) has 8.8 million health plan members, 167,178 employees, 15,853 physicians, 37 medical centers, and more than 500 medical offices/outpatient buildings in nine states and the District of Columbia.

While at NFS, Kouletsis has been responsible for developing the KP Standards Program and has also been the program director for Templates 2000, an initiative to research all of the clinical spaces that KP builds and test them with frontline staff in terms of function and workflow. Extensive internal and external benchmarking, as well as design sessions with more than 1,000 clinicians and support staff over a period of 18 months, built the basis for KP’s Standards Program as it exists today.

Kouletsis is also the executive director for KP’s Templated Hospital Project, Small Hospital of the Future Project, and High Performance Buildings Initiative. His department is responsible for the continuous development and improvement of the KP Standards Program, and he is one of the sponsors of the Sidney R. Garfield Centers for Health Care Innovation. Prior to joining the NFS Core Group, Kouletsis worked as a project manager at KP’s Vallejo Medical Center.

A member of the Facility Guidelines Institute’s Healthcare Guidelines Revision Committee and EDAC (Evidence-Based Design Accreditation and Certification) Advisory Council, Kouletsis is a contributor and frequent participant in the Hospital and Healthcare Environments of the Future working sessions at the Health Technology Center in San Francisco. He has spoken widely on design excellence, high-performance design, and sustainable design and operations.

Most recently, Kouletsis was the 2011 winner of The Center for Health Design’s annual Changemaker Award. The award is given by The Center’s board of directors to an individual or group that has demonstrated the exceptional ability to affect change in healthcare facility design.

Click here to read an interview with John Kouletsis.

Debra Levin, EDAC

President and CEO, The Center for Health Design

As President and CEO of The Center for Health Design, Debra Levin is, and has been, responsible for the vision, direction, and funding support of The Center. As the leader of the organization, she is a visionary who truly understands the industry and is able to put the right people and processes together at the right time. Additionally, she is an industry advocate and thought leader.

Thousands of healthcare and design professionals turn to the resources of The Center for Health Design for research and education. For many new to the industry, it is the entry point into connecting the latest research to positive outcomes, both financially as well as economically. Levin is at the forefront of new ideas, trends, and research, and she often connects people and organizations with each other so that everyone can benefit.

The Center, under Levin’s leadership, continues to galvanize the healthcare industry and elevates the role that the physical environment plays in improving the overall healthcare industry in this country, and eventually in other countries, as well. It is her passion for this work, her leadership skills, and her vision for the industry that have helped to drive her success over two decades. Because of her continued insights, energy, and love of the profession, she is truly one of the most influential people in the healthcare design industry.

Click here to read an interview with Debra Levin.

Jain Malkin, CID, AAHID, EDAC

President, Jain Malkin Inc.

Jain Malkin is a leader in the field of healthcare interior design and has always been on the cutting edge of the latest design trends. Not only designed for style but always stylish, her projects display a knowledge of evidence-based design to back up every choice she makes.

Malkin is deeply passionate about healthcare design and has worked hard over the course of her career to promote best practices in the field. She has written several books, and penned dozens of articles, spoken at conferences big and small, all while leading a successful design firm that emphasizes evidence-based design and the patient experience.

Considering her stature in the field, long history of quality design work and innovation, and reputation as a thought leader, Malkin has certainly made her mark on the healthcare design industry. She continues to be a vital and active voice in the field, taking an active role in multiple design projects year after year, each one exquisitely designed and tailored to its individual space and situation.

Click here to read an interview wtih Jain Malkin.

Robert N. Mayer, PhD

President, Hulda B. and Maurice L. Rothschild Foundation

In the past few years, under Mayer's direction, the Hulda B. and Maurice L. Rothschild Foundation has funded projects for the Pioneer Network, Planetree, Society for the Advancement of Gerontological Environments, The Center for Health Design, and others. In all of his projects, Mayer is an active participant, often guiding the direction of the work and pushing the project teams to go beyond the norm. His interest in bridging the gap between acute care and residential care design with a focus on culture change, as well as improving building codes and standards, has resulted in him reaching out to many different organizations to initiate projects.

As the leader of this small foundation, Mayer has spent the past 25 years funding projects that help improve the quality of life for seniors and, in recent years, patients in hospitals. He became aware of the design of the built environment about 15 years ago, when his interest shifted to culture change. Behind the scenes, Mayer has been quietly but forcefully pushing the healthcare industry to embrace new concepts that are person-centered. The Rothschild Foundation has been actively supporting projects that focus on the built environment of healthcare; Mayer is truly a leader in this area.

Click here to read an interview with Robert N. Mayer.

A. Ray Pentecost III, DrPH, FAIA, FACHA, LEED AP

Vice President, Director of Healthcare Architecture, and Design Principal, Clark Nexsen Architecture and Engineering

A. Ray Pentecost has demonstrated throughout his career that when given the opportunity to lead and influence healthcare design, he will. He has done so and continues to do so with great passion from leadership positions that have national and international influence. His national leadership roles on the Board of Directors (and as president from 2009 to 2010) of the American Institute of Architects Academy of Architecture for Health (AIA AAH) and the Board of Regents of the American College of Healthcare Architects, his international leadership as president of the International Academy for Design and Health, and his role as co-chairman of the AIA’s America’s Design and Health Initiative demonstrate that Pentecost’s peers are inviting him to take positions of tremendous influence in the healthcare design industry.

Combining his training in the field of public health and research with his passion for architecture, Pentecost has been heavily focused on identifying linkages between design and health. Presentations made in the United States and internationally, as well as articles written on the subject, have served to help elevate this issue to prominence.

Pentecost has also been an outspoken advocate for the use of research in design, a practice that is changing the way healthcare facilities, and indeed other building types, are designed. His leadership and advocacy of healthy design as a national priority while serving as president of the AIA AAH was codified when the AIA AAH board approved revised bylaws including a mission statement that embraced not only healthcare design but the design of healthy communities. The result has been a broader perspective and scope of service for the leadership of the nation’s premier membership organization for healthcare architects.

Click here to read Part 1 of an interview with A. Ray Pentecost III.

Click here to read Part 2 of an interview with A. Ray Pentecost III.