AIA, NCARB, vice president, senior project manager

Leo A Daly (Omaha, Neb.)

Mission statement: “Every architect wants to leave behind a legacy of design excellence, but when we design healing environments, we’re also bringing hope and possibility into the lives of those needing it. Especially when our designs help small communities and underserved populations, our work transcends design, becoming something worthy of being called ‘a life’s work.’”

Who he is: Monzu has a nearly 25-year career as an architect, with experience leading large, big-budget healthcare projects, from academic medical centers to a large military hospital in Abu Dhabi. He now uses that experience and insight to deliver new, high-quality facilities in smaller communities throughout his home state of Nebraska. Understanding that the chance to build a modern healthcare facility in these small towns doesn’t come along that often, he’s passionate about helping organizations “get it right.” To that end, he engages users in the process by creating mock-ups of new spaces to help staff visualize the design and refine it before construction. He and his team are known to host “furniture rodeos,” too, during which staff can test furniture options in a fun, informal environment.

Year in review: Monzu balanced several projects of varying size, including serving as team project manager and lead medical planner for the CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center – Bergan Mercy campus in Omaha, Neb., which consolidated a medical school with a private healthcare campus. He also served as project manager and lead medical planner for several critical access hospitals in Nebraska, including new projects in the small towns of Syracuse and Sidney and the modernization of a facility in Beatrice, Neb. Monzu is known for staying involved in projects from early programming and concept development through construction and final inspections,to ensure follow-through on initial ideas. For the Sidney project, he regularly drove 5.5 hours from his office in Omaha to the facility site for multiday design and planning meetings and then for construction meetings on the job site as the project progressed. In addition to rural healthcare projects, Monzu is passionate about improving veterans’ healthcare and is currently serving as project manager for the $86 million Omaha VA Ambulatory Care Center.

Industry impact: By bringing the best ideas in modern healthcare design to critical access hospitals, Monzu is ensuring that small rural communities have access to care environments that are of the same quality as those in even the largest of cities. Many of these projects don’t just add a building to the rural landscape but help to create a cornerstone for the local area. “Knowing that our work directly affects people of our own community is a strong incentive to always do our best. I value the fact that the final product of our work is not a spreadsheet or report, but a tangible structure that people experience every day,” he says. Monzu’s work is also pushing the boundaries of what veterans’ care looks like. For the 157,000-square-foot Omaha VA facility, which is expected to open in 2020, the design is focused on offering convenience and a sense of place for veterans, with architectural features that draw on patriotic symbolism to honor service members.

What’s next: Monzu will continue to pursue work on a variety of projects, including a specialty care hospital that’s looking to expand its care model to include smaller communities in eastern Nebraska. Additionally, he’ll broaden his team’s exposure to critical access and specialty hospital clients, where they can have a significant impact.