The Healthcare Design Expo & Conference starts this weekend in Houston and I can’t wait! It’s not just about the great educational content at the conference; it’s also about the huge expo. And now (drum roll please), I will share with you…

Joan’s top 10 favorite things about attending the HCD Expo:

10. Exercise—after sitting in presentations all morning, walking the trade show floor feels pretty good. Who needs to go to the gym when you can do miles while still on the job?

9. Networking—it’s a moving party. I love running into people I know, when I can talk to them without whispering during a conference session.

8. New product introductions—especially if you get to sit on it or play with it.

7. Dining with strangers—I grab my lunch, find a seat in the eating area, and talk to someone I don’t know. Great way to make connections, or at least maybe have an interesting conversation.

6. Chocolates—as many as I can swipe from the candy bowls in the booths. Sure, the idea is to interact with the exhibitors, but I wait for them to be distracted before I go for the second or third piece.

5. Entertainment—look at all of those interesting people! Even if they are mostly architects.

4. Clever bantering—seeing old friends in their booths (Clive, Hue, Dana, etc.) and giving them grief or telling them bad jokes, just because I can. And because I know they can’t run away.

3. Tchotchkes!—I can’t wait to see what the new cool thing will be. We’ve had the cell phone chargers and the breath mints and the canvas bags … but my all-time favorite was the combination sticky note pad, level, tape measure, and pen. THAT was cool and, as far as I know, never reproduced.

2. Education—where else can I learn so much about so many things?

1. Economy—knowing the exhibitors pay a lot of money and help keep registration costs down so we architects can afford to attend. Thanks and a tip of a pork pie hat to all of you!

Joan Suchomel, AIA, ACHA, EDAC, is 2016 president of the American Institute of Architects Academy of Architecture for Health. She is a principal at Eckenhoff Saunders Architects in Chicago and can be reached at