2019 Rising Star: Ariana Hallenbeck, LEED AP BD+C, Arch II, Perkins and Will (Dallas)

Ariana Hallenbeck joined Perkins and Will as a healthcare designer right after graduating from the University of Texas in 2016. During the past three years, she’s worked with client HCA Healthcare on projects including several Medical City institutions around the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Those projects span in size and scope from emergency, imaging, and surgery to lab, pharmacy, and patient care units. She also serves as co-champion for the firm’s diversity and inclusion committee, where she’s had the opportunity to share her passion for diversifying the architecture industry.

Healthcare Design: What drew you to a career in healthcare design?
Hallenbeck: One summer, an opportunity arose to intern for Ascension Seton during the planning and design of Dell Seton Medical Center, a teaching hospital for the University of Texas at Austin’s debut medical campus. Although at the time I knew very little about healthcare design, I was excited to learn more about the impact design could have on transforming both the patient and provider experience. After touring one of their children’s medical centers, my perspective on healthcare architecture was completely transformed. I realized that hospitals weren’t just places people go to in emergencies or for the occasional exam; they are the backdrops for some of life’s biggest moments and can also serve as classrooms, playgrounds, and even extended homes. I loved the idea of being able to renew people’s outlook on their healthcare experience and increase the accessibility of quality healthcare design.

What’s one recent project that you’re most proud of?
My project at the Medical City Dallas Heart and Spine Hospitals was a major renovation and reopening that serves as a surgery-focused extension to the existing Medical City Dallas campus. It included a robust program of new cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology labs, heart and spine care, and hybrid operating rooms. As construction was ongoing and major design revisions to the surgery department spaces were taking place, the manager of the project had to take an unexpected leave of absence. Despite having no previous construction administration experience, I worked diligently with our architectural team, consultants, contractor, client, and numerous vendors to ensure construction could continue successfully and the target opening date would not be jeopardized. Although at times it proved to be very stressful, I had a great support system within the team, and it was ultimately a very empowering experience to be entrusted with such a significant role so early in my career. I gained an immense amount of knowledge, but my greatest takeaway is that the key to a successful project lies in the entire team’s ability to effectively collaborate and work together to find solutions to any challenge that may arise.

What do you think is the number one issue facing the healthcare design industry in 2019?
Technology is at the forefront of transforming every industry, healthcare included. Today, more people than ever before are shopping around for their healthcare experience, and rapidly developing technological advancements place increased pressure on healthcare providers to remain competitive. Simultaneously, we are seeing owners move toward design standardization as they look for opportunities to increase profitability and efficiency and provide more consistent results across projects.

What’s one idea you have for overcoming that problem?
While healthcare service thrives on increased standardization to ensure a high level of care is met, designers and owners should plan for the inevitability of changing floor plans, equipment, and operations by placing flexibility at the forefront of the design process and incorporating more multipurpose space. Fitting into a preformed standard can be an even greater challenge for existing facilities with severely outdated infrastructure that can’t easily accommodate the needs of modern systems. When flexibility is built into the design, owners can more rapidly revise standards as needed, which in turn allows facilities to more quickly respond to rapidly changing needs that arise from technology advancements.