It’s that time of the year again, when the “big” issue of Healthcare Design lands on your desk or in your inbox. This issue represents an entire year’s worth of the best healthcare projects from not just the U.S. but from around the world—projects that are both built and now in use as well as conceptual and years away from seeing their first customers.

But what all of these projects have in common is that they were designed and built on the building blocks of innovative projects that have come before them, many of them featured in the Showcase pages (coming soon in the September issue of Healthcare Design).

Why is this issue so important in our industry? Why is this issue the one that people hold on to from year to year? From my perspective, the reasons are many.

First and foremost is that we are by nature a visual industry. At their best, architecture and design are about interpreting research, data, and needs and incorporating this knowledge into a three-dimensional solution that solves a problem in a way that’s both functional and beautiful. This issue brings together solutions, from creative minds around the globe, to learn from and appreciate.

This issue is also the closest thing our industry has to an annual yearbook. We’re in one sense a large and disparate community, but we’re also tied by common goals and purposes, with the Healthcare Design Showcase offering an even playing field for any and all to send in their work, have it weighed by peers, and be a part of this annual review.

In addition to looking back in time, Showcase is also the closest thing we have to a crystal ball. In these pages are the geneses of new ideas, new models of care, and new solutions to old problems that will in time grow into our future healthcare system. We see hints throughout of ideas that will take hold and reshape our environments. Retail health centers, home healthcare options, telehealth, robotics—all of these show glimmers of the potentially new directions our healthcare system could take.

And finally, there’s the power of story. Never underestimate the role that storytelling plays in creating permanent change. Each of these projects has a story to tell. Every design decision has a team of experts’ insights behind it, and every patient who comes in contact with these environments is unique.

There’s a depth of learning and understanding that come from stories, both through the spoken word and in pictures. This issue captures those and shares them broadly so we can learn and build upon one another’s success and chronicle our history and progress as a community.