Interested in a career where he could help others, Eric Koffler considered nursing before deciding architecture was a better fit. During his first job, he found his passion for healthcare design. Four years ago he joined NBBJ, where he’s been involved in a variety of hospital projects. Outside the office, he’s been busy building an impressive board game collection.

What drew you to a career in healthcare design?

After graduating with my bachelor’s degree in architecture, I took a year off to figure out my next steps. I was teetering between becoming a nurse and getting my master’s in architecture when I realized the thought of needles makes me uncomfortable. I earned my master’s from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. The rest happened by chance! My first job in Chicago was as an interior designer/medical planner.

What do you like best about working in healthcare design? 

Interacting with the end users. It’s during these engagements—conducting research and asking questions about their processes and pain points—that we can identify solutions through planning and design. I love problem solving and being part of a team that not only improves the patient experience and outcomes but also the health and well-being of the staff.

What challenges about your work keep you up at night? 

Budgets. The design industry is constantly asked to do more with less, while ensuring that staff and patient experience are kept top of mind.

Three healthcare design projects you’ve worked on in the last year and your role

1 Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center New Bed Tower, Charlotte, N.C., lead interior designer/medical planner.

2 Atrium Health Carolinas Rehabilitation Replacement Hospital, Charlotte, N.C., lead interior designer/medical planning oversight.

3 Mohawk Valley Health System, Utica, N.Y., medical planner/interior architect.

Three words that describe your design aesthetic

1 modern.

2 approachable.

3 establishes a sense of place.

Three unexpected items on your desk 

1 pulse oximeter

2 digital thermometer (I’m in a COVID-19 vaccine trial and I get prompts to log my vitals.)

3 luxury vinyl tile sample. Given that my dining table is my WFH desk, I quickly realized that having all this technology on top of it scratches the heck out of it. In lieu of buying an expensive blotter, I gave this sample a new purpose.

Outside the office, we’ll likely find you…

I love being outdoors surrounded by nature. Living in Chicago, it typically requires a weekend getaway, so I love a good three- to four-day weekend trip. My most recent one was to a lake house in Michigan.

What’s a hobby you’ve picked up during the pandemic?

Game nights! Our board game collection has multiplied in the best way. We have a good mix of games based on strategy, and those that are more mindless yet active. The latter work great for groups where you want to chit-chat more and not have to focus so much on your next move.

Coffee or tea?

100 percent coffee; 0 percent tea.

Morning person or night owl?

Night owl all the way. Although, bedtime keeps creeping earlier and earlier these days.

How did you make your first dollar

In high school I worked at my grandma and grandpa’s dairy farm for several summers to help them cut and bail hay, drive tractors, and milk the cows.

Your go-to karaoke song

I sang all through my schooling and even took master-level vocal classes while getting my master’s in architecture, but I am NOT a karaoke kind of guy!

First album you ever bought

I don’t recall the first one I bought, but the first one I was gifted was a New Kids on the Block cassette for Christmas.

Cocktail of choice

I gravitate toward things with bourbon. I’ve been drinking a lot of Manhattans and Old Fashioneds these days.

Last time you danced

Probably around the house at some point last night. Strange things happen after a long day of working from home.

Favorite …

Band/musical artist Jessie J.

Color It’s easiest to describe it as dark teal.

Guilty pleasure Chocolate.

App/website SkyView. I use it when I’m out of the city and can see the stars. It identifies planets, stars, galaxies, and even the International Space Station, all in augmented reality.

Snack when you travel Orange slices.

Ice cream flavor Mint chocolate chip, but I won’t say no to classic vanilla.

Sport I’m the type of person who would rather play a sport than watch one.

Team I don’t follow sports that closely, but I do live a few blocks from Wrigley Field, so I guess this makes me a Cubs fan?

City to visit Barcelona. I would definitely go back, but there are so many more places I want to visit. Machu Picchu and Iceland are at the top of my list.