The 2023 Healthcare Design Conference + Expo will be held Nov. 4-7, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, La. The annual event will offer a variety of keynote and breakout sessions on a range of topics.

Healthcare Design is previewing some of the upcoming educational sessions in a series of Q+As with speakers, sharing what they plan to discuss and key takeaways they plan to offer attendees.

Session: The Next Generation of Medical Malls – Expanding Care Access Strategically

Speakers: Faith Orsini, vice president, facilities, Cooper University Health Care; Jonathan Bykowski, Lean process facilitator, Array Advisors; Ryan Kairis, vice president at HSC Builders & Construction Managers; and Craig Melograno, Durapods.

Strategies for medical mall planning and design

Retail shopping malls have become less viable post-pandemic, and a new model has emerged with even more potential: medical malls. During this session, attendees will learn key considerations for the adaptive reuse of retail space, explore how the use of prefabrication and early planning for the practice can accelerate a project timeline, and learn how to determine appropriate clinical programs for similar spaces.

The presentation team will discuss the strategic benefits of selecting retail space for a healthcare facility using a 166,000-square-foot ambulatory surgery center located in a converted Sears as a case study.

Healthcare Design: Briefly explain the medical mall concept and what’s driving its popularity in the healthcare industry?

Johnathan Bykowski

Array Architects

Jonathan Bykowski: Medical malls are installed in converted shopping malls and can take the form of a pure medical center or mixed retail and healthcare space. As retail shopping malls as we’ve known them have changed, owing in part to the impact of the pandemic on physical retail, vacant spaces in those locations have been targets of acquisition for health systems.

These locations often offer convenient access to patients seeking outpatient services, a sought-after infrastructure for medical services, and ample parking.

Medical malls also advance local economic development and flexibility for healthcare providers.

What clinic programs do you think are best suited for adaptive reuse of retail spaces?

The adaptive reuse of retail spaces can accommodate a wide range of clinical programs but tend toward lower acuity care. As convenience and access have grown in importance for hospitals and health systems to remain competitive with industry disruptors, improve the patient experience, and mitigate health inequities, the appeal of adapting retails spaces has grown.

Services such as primary care, physical therapy, infusion therapy, radiology, ambulatory surgery, and other outpatient services can be good candidates.

What are some of the considerations project teams should keep in mind when selecting a retail space for conversion to a healthcare facility?

Selecting retail space for conversion to a care facility is complex, but the benefits can be significant.

Existing zoning is one key consideration, as it can allow for use with no replanning. Parking, as mentioned previously, is also a significant consideration, as ample parking can ease the patient and staff experience when visiting the site.

Special attention should be paid to frontage, or the space between the front of a building and the street, to support visibility, wayfinding, and brand recognition. Lastly, consideration of proximal residential areas should also be undertaken as this can smooth the pathway to the appropriate county and state approvals.

What’s one takeaway from your session that you hope attendees walk away with?

Attendees will gain an understanding of how time pressures can be mitigated by employing prefabrication, key considerations for selecting a site, and how to align planning philosophy with the realities of leveraging prefabrication.

From a technical/architectural standpoint, we’ll also provide cautions relating to identifying potential water issues, assessing floor-to-floor heights, and understanding the innate pros and cons of big box locations for care facilities.

For more on the HCD Conference schedule and registration, visit