On May 23, at IIDA Headquarters in Chicago, the 2012 HEALTHCARE DESIGN Architectural and Interior Design Showcase judging took place, wherein an invited jury reviewed all the submitted projects for this year's Showcase and decided who was in, who was out, and who would win a Citiation of Merit. This annual event is always an informative one for me, as it provides not only a snapshot of healthcare building for any given year, but also because it allows me to interact with a diverse jury of healthcare design professionals — architects, interior designers, owners, and more — and get their takes on the state of the industry.

This year's meeting was no different, as our largest jury ever assembled provided some key insights and observations — as well as selecting some excellent projects for publication in our September issue. Quite a bit of our discussion afterwards revolved around the projects as a whole in an attempt to view the day's events in a big picture context. The findings were very interesting indeed.

When asked, the jurors generally responded that they were "disappointed" with the projects on the whole, and yet, the average score was 6.4 on a scale of 1 to 10, well above average. Further confusing matters was the Citiation of Merit nominations. There were a total of 18 nominations in 2012, but only two winners were chosen. Contrast that with 11 nominations in 2011, but three winners. Looking back to 2009, there were 5 winners.

Looking at the trend, I wonder: Are the projects getting less interesting or Citation worthy? Are we simply getting so used to seeing well-designed projects that it takes something truly special and innovative to clear the Citation hurdle? Are we judging these projects too harshly because we've "seen it all before"? Should this all be looked at as a positive, the fact that we have evolved as an industry to the point where what once was noteworthy is now the norm? Food for thought that I hope you all will remember come September and the publication of the entire Architectural and Interior Design Showcase.