A big focus of architect Janet Dugan’s 30-year-plus career has been advocating for using person-centered methods to deliver thoughtful designs that lead to improved care, clearer communication, and reduced costs. Her efforts paid off last year when she became the first architect in the world to become a Planetree Fellow in Person Centered Care. Outside the office, you’ll find her enjoying the outdoors and diving into art projects.

What drew you to healthcare design?

The complexities of the work—ever-changing design needs, building type, business of the industry, medical advances … I learn something every day.

What was your first healthcare project?

A master plan for a large hospital campus in Anchorage, Alaska.

What lesson did you learn on that project that you still carry with you?

That goals and strategies thoughtfully founded at the earliest stage are imperative to success. That strategy most often tells you what not to do just as much as what path to take.

How do you apply person-centered care methods in projects?

By demystifying the process and making clinicians, patients, and leadership partners in design. They’re not spectators, but integral voices to be relied upon.

Outside the office, we’d likely find you …

Reading, quilting, doing artwork of all kinds, on the tractor, and feeding the cattle on our ranch.

Wait, you have a ranch?

We purchased 20 acres in a beautiful valley as a getaway and for future retirement. During quarantine, we’ve moved out here almost full time. We’re outdoors as much as possible and always have projects to do.


Most unexpected item on your desk

It’s actually under it: I’ve had a walk station treadmill for seven years and average about 4 miles a day at my desk, although that number is going up now that I’m not traveling so much. I don’t think I could do long stints of computer work anymore without it.

Favorite city to visit …

Zihuatanejo, Mexico. This is the one place my husband and I return to time and time again. We love the down time and laughter, no clocks or phones, and really great food in a sleepy little fishing village on the Pacific.

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

1 Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center campus master plan, Sitka, Alaska, healthcare planning principal.

2 St. Michael Medical Center, Silverdale, Wash., healthcare planning principal.

3 Fairbanks Memorial Hospital master plan, Fairbanks, Alaska, healthcare planning principal.



Morning person or night owl?

Definitely morning. I love being awake at dawn.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee in the morning; tea in the evening.

How did you make your first dollar?

I was an assistant designer at a local ad agency.

Cocktail of choice

Vodka gimlet with a twist, straight up.

Your hidden talent

Storytelling at the local level. I’ve gone to Seattle Moth storytelling events and attended conferences and improv classes.

You have an irrational fear of …

Ferris wheels. My fear is amplified by obsessing on the fact that the lowest bidder built it.

If you weren’t an architect You’d be …

A science journalist. I love learning about scientific research as well as writing.