Parini Mehta didn’t know healthcare design was a career option when she graduated from Southern California Institute of Architecture in 2005.

Instead, she says she stumbled into it after working on her first construction project during her first job at Lee Burkhart Liu (now Perkins Eastman): a Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center replacement project.

Drawn to the field’s programmatic and strategic requirements, she decided to dedicate her career to healthcare, joining CO Architects (Los Angeles) in 2014.

When she’s not serving as project manager on a variety of projects, including an outpatient surgery floor at Cedars-Sinai Advanced Health Sciences Pavilion in Los Angeles and the 350-bed replacement facility for Scripps Mercy San Diego Replacement Hospital, she focuses her time on fostering the next generation of architects through a summer program she started for female high school students. The program introduces them to career skills such as creative thinking and analytical problem solving.

“I hope introducing young women to architecture helps to promote more women joining the field,” she says.


How has working with students changed how you view your own work?

As practitioners, we can lose sight of our audacious ideas because we are so focused on the daily demands of a project. It’s inspiring to engage students and see how their energy can affect our day-to-day work.


On industry trends:

Thumbs up: Many of our clients are looking for ways to provide resources for behavioral and mental health patients. I see this as a program area where architects and designers can make a social impact. I’m in the midst of organizing a healthcare design charrette, dubbed “Purposeful,” for the American Institute of Architects’ Los Angeles chapter. Participants will discover how a decommissioned hospital facility that has outlived its original function can be reimagined and repurposed for new uses, one of which is a mental health and homeless care center.

Thumbs down: Oddly shaped patient units that respond only to travel distances but not flexibility and function.


Favorite …

Quote: “My life is my message.”—Mahatma Gandhi. My boyfriend and I posed with it when we visited the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, India.

Weekend activity: Fitting in some weekend fitness before checking in on the progress of our house renovation.

Color: I’m a graduate from University of Michigan, so I have to say Maize and Blue!

Guilty pleasure: Watching “Fixer Upper” with Chip and Joanna Gaines.

App: Plant Nanny reminds me to drink water throughout the day.

Snack: when you travel I always have a protein bar on hand.

Hobby: Indian dancing. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid, and it has been a great form of exercise and stress relief. It just makes me happy!

City to visit: Mumbai, to connect with family and experience an urban energy like no other.

Three words to describe your design aesthetic:

  1. minimal
  2. modern
  3. subtle texture and pattern

You’re remodeling your house. What’s been the biggest challenge so far?

Everyone always asks if it’s difficult designing the house with my boyfriend because he’s also an architect. The answer is no. If we don’t agree on something, we iterate on the idea until a solution comes up. For me, working with residential engineers and contractors has been difficult. We work with the best of the best at CO Architects, and the rigor is not quite the same for a small house.

Three unexpected items on your desk

  1. The book “Michigan Modern, An Architectural Legacy.”
  2. Stack of sticky notes. I keep all of them from my team’s morning scrum sessions. By the end of a project, the stack gets really big.
  3. My vision board. I created one last summer to visualize what I want in life.

Dog or cat?

Cat. Our cat, Persi (a Russian blue), is staying with my brother while our house is under construction. We can’t wait to get her back!

Fiction or nonfiction?

Nonfiction. I especially love memoirs. Reading perseverance stories reminds me how amazing the human race is and how much adversity one can face and overcome. I also love to read about people from different backgrounds and their journeys.

How did you make your first dollar?

Babysitting and shoveling snow. I earned enough money to go on a school trip to Africa.

Your go-to karaoke song?

“I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That),” by Meatloaf. It’s the longest song ever …

If I wasn’t an architect I would be …

A showrunner for a program like “Saturday Night Live.” I thrive on adrenaline and excitement.


Mehta is serving as project architect and project manager on a new 45,000-square-foot outpatient surgery expansion project at Cedars-Sinai Advanced Health Sciences Pavilion in Los Angeles.

Credit: CO Architects