Ray Wong’s mother was a nurse and the emergency department manager at the hospital where he frequently received treatment for severe asthma as a child. And while the stories his mother shared about her work turned him off to a career on the clinical side, his time as a young patient—and the understanding he gained regarding the importance of a positive care experience—drew him to healthcare design. He’s now dedicated more than two decades to the field, while in his spare time he likes to refine his photography and car mechanic skills.

What drew you to a career in healthcare design?

I had firsthand knowledge of the anxiety, fear, and trepidation that one feels when one’s life is in another person’s hands and felt that I could contribute to improving that experience.

What was your first healthcare project?

A very large and complicated expansion to one of Tampa’s most prominent healthcare institutions. The design solution had to overcome incredible design challenges—access, traffic circulation, limited footprint, surrounded by water—as well as incredibly unique programmatic requirements. I was a cog in a wheel of incredible team members that would go on to shape my career for years afterward, as colleagues but also as mentors and friends.

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

That a project’s success will largely depend on two things: the ability of leaders to harness the trust of the team and the ability of leaders to motivate the team throughout all phases of the project. This is as true today as it ever was.

Three unexpected items on your desk

1 thoughtful notes from clients. They remind me of the importance of creating meaningful connections with people.

2 plants. I come from a long line of folks with green thumbs.

3 hand sculpture showing the peace sign. It was given to me by a mentor and reminds me to strive for inner peace.


If you weren’t working in healthcare design, you would be …

Restoring old British cars. I recently got my 1979 Triumph Spitfire running again.



Favorite hobby

I recently started getting into bird photography from the comfort of my own back yard.

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

1 ED and patient tower expansion, Tampa, architect of record (delivered under previous employer).

2 NICU expansion, Tampa, architect of record (delivered under previous employer).

3 Pediatrics and progressive care expansion, Tampa, architect of record (delivered under previous employer).

Coffee or tea?

I’m Hispanic, raised in Miami, and have lived in Tampa the past 20 years. Take a wild guess.

Your hidden talent

I’m a pretty mean salsa dancer.

Your go-to karaoke song

You’ve obviously never heard me sing.

Fiction or nonfiction?

Nonfiction. I struggle a bit with the suspension of disbelief that fiction requires, which often puts me in a state of thinking, “That would never happen!!!”

You have an irrational fear of…

Zombies. Hands down, zombies.

How did you make your first dollar?

My mother would pack my lunch and I would turn around and sell it at school. She found out and eventually started packing me two lunches.

Cocktail of choice
Whisky, neat.