After a stint in the hospitality sector, Randy Geise moved to healthcare design and in 1997 was hired by Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland)—and he hasn’t looked back since. Here, he discusses applying hospitality lessons to his work to make healthcare environments feel less clinical. He also shares a couple highlights of what his home city has to offer, which will be on display when HCD Expo heads there this fall.

What drew you to a career in healthcare design?

I made a transition from hotel facilities, project management, and design when the hospitality industry went into decline in 1990. I had worked for Hyatt Hotels in Kansas City, Mo.; Puerto Rico; and its corporate office in Chicago when a friend at Egleston Children’s Hospital in Atlanta told me about a job in space planning there.

What was your first healthcare project?

Facility planner on a toilet/shower/bath training room for an inpatient rehabilitation unit at Egleston.

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

I was able to utilize my Hyatt experience to create an environment that was more like a hotel than a hospital by providing upgraded fixtures and finishes to make the space less clinical looking.

What’s one thing about Cleveland that people should know?

We have the largest performing arts center (Playhouse Square) in the U.S. outside of New York City.

Three items on your desk

1 a copy of “To Act as a Unit: The Story of the Cleveland Clinic.”

2 collection of vintage Cleveland Clinic postcards.

3 headphones for all these remote meetings we have now.


What’s your hidden talent?

Stand-up comedy. I’ve been in the Cleveland Comedy Festival and have performed at several local venues,
and have even taken my show on the road to Las Vegas and London

Outside the office, we’ll likely find you

In my basement wood shop refinishing antiques and making furniture, charcuterie boards, and beer and wine caddies. I’ve recently started turning bowls on my wood lathe.

Favorite city to visit

Tybee Island, Ga. It’s my family’s favorite vacation spot.

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

1 Cleveland Clinic London, expected to open in first quarter 2022, healthcare facility planner.

2 Hope Hospital, a temporary COVID-19 surge facility, healthcare facility planner.

3 Lerner Research Institute and Pathology and Lab Medicine Institute, multiple COVID-19-related projects, healthcare facility planner.

Dog or cat?

We have a Boston Terrier named Peanut that my family can’t get enough of.

Morning person or night owl?

Early morning workouts. I can’t stay up past 10 p.m.

How did you make your first dollar?

Mowing lawns. $3 per lawn back in the early 1970s.

Favorite quote

“Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some
kind of battle.”—J.M. Barrie.

If you weren’t a healthcare facility planner, you would be …

Elementary math teacher by day and comedian by night.

You have an irrational fear of…

Being late to a movie. Our family was too late and couldn’t get tickets to see the opening of “Jaws” in 1975. I’ve been scarred for life!

Cocktail of choice?

Beer. Cleveland has some great local breweries: Market Garden Brewery, Great Lakes Brewing Co., Fat Head’s Brewery, Platform Beer Co., Sibling Revelry Brewery.