Julia JudeThe vice president at Cannon Design in Dallas shares what drew her to a career in pediatric design, the need for more inclusive design for all, and her purrfect way to kick off the day.

What drew you to a career in healthcare design?

Aspiration to help others and create a brighter world. Before joining FKP (prior to its merger with CannonDesign), I worked on numerous other building typologies, and while the projects themselves were challenging and interesting, I was missing something. We all want to feel like we are contributing to the greater good, and healthcare design—especially for pediatrics—serves a greater purpose in the creation of meaningful, beautiful places of healing.

What was your first healthcare design project?

Dayton Children’s Hospital inpatient tower.

What lesson from that project do you still carry with you today?  

Creating spaces that elicit wonder and joy through scale, color, and unexpected details makes a difference. Every time I visit Dayton Children’s atrium space, I see faces light up as focus shifts from pain or worry to surprise and delight. Even if it’s for just for a brief second, it’s that moment that we design for.

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

1 Children’s Health of Orange County, Southwest Tower, Orange County, Calif., project leader, pediatric medical planner

2 Dayton Children’s Hospital Specialty Care Center, Dayton, Ohio, pediatric medical planner

3 Children’s Health System of Texas master plan capacity feasibility study, Dallas,  pediatric medical planner


What do you like best about working in pediatric healthcare design?

The incredible and compassionate people who want to make healthcare less intimidating for kids.

What challenges about your work keep you up at night?

Creating spaces that are more inclusive for diverse abilities and neurodiversities. We’re still on the frontier of neuroscience with minimal research into understanding how colors, forms, textures, spaces, and lighting impacts our perceptions and emotions. Creating designs that are intuitive and friendly for most is challenging—for example, a red design feature can create joy for some and anxiety for others. It takes a lot of thoughtfulness, and we may still not be getting it right for all.

On trends in pediatric healthcare design

Thumbs up: Integrating play into healthcare experiences beyond waiting rooms or playrooms. Play is fundamental to being human, and this understanding can advance how we integrate play to help diagnose, treat, and heal patients.

Thumbs down: Oversized waiting rooms that sit empty. With the pandemic changing operations, many waiting rooms are underutilized and these spaces can be challenging to repurpose depending on adjacencies and flow. Creating greater flexibility for future adaptation is vital in planning.

An unexpected item on your desk

My home desk usually has a cat (sometimes two cats) sleeping or roaming around on it.  [image]

Outside the office, we’ll likely find you …

Practicing mindfulness and meditation, painting, hiking, doing puzzles, and enjoying a good book.

What’s a new habit or hobby you’ve picked up since the coronavirus pandemic began?

Morning yoga. There are some great YouTube yoga videos out there to start a routine.

Dog or cat?

Cats. They are cute, snuggly, and cunning, and truly appreciate love and affection.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee because it wakes up my senses and I am simply addicted

Morning person or night owl?

Night owl who now falls asleep on the couch around 8 p.m.

Fiction or nonfiction?

Fiction. I love the imaginative places and characters they create.

How did you make your first dollar

Babysitting and bagging groceries.

First album you ever bought

Ace of Base, “The Sign.”

Drink of choice


Your hidden talent

I’m really good at jigsaw puzzles.

If you weren’t an architect, you would be …

An astronomer because I love looking at the stars and feeling infinitely small in the profoundly vast universe. Or I would be a starving artist, either a painter or potter.

You have an irrational fear of …

My hand getting caught in a blender (from the “Goonies” movie).

Favorite …

Quote “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” —His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

Movie character Emmet from the Lego movie,  He realizes we’re all master builders capable of creating amazing things together and he defeats Lord Business with his kindness, generosity, and willingness to help others. And because everything is awesome and everything is cool when you are part of a team.

Show to binge watch “Stranger Things.” It shows the spirit of childhood and human heroism can overcome darkness. I also enjoy the 80s references and nostalgia!

Weekend activity Renovating my house because termites had feasts in my walls.

Band/musical artist It’s hard to pick just one. The Beatles, because their songs are joyful and it’s fun to sing and dance along to their music.

Color Purple because it’s the perfect balance between warm and cold.

Guilty pleasure Romance movies and chocolate.

Snack when you travel Mixed nuts.  They don’t get smashed and are easy to eat along the journey.

Ice cream flavor Mint chocolate chip.

Sport Ping pong.

Team USA.

Book “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” by Tom Robbins.

City to visit New Orleans. My husband and I went here for our honeymoon to celebrate our love. Plus, it has amazing people, food, and music and beautiful historic architecture.