Scott Lindvall spent the first decade of his architecture career working on a variety of project types, including churches, schools, museums, pharmaceutical manufacturing plants, and banks. In 1999, he joined HGA (Milwaukee) and began focusing exclusively on healthcare design.

While he admits there was a steep learning curve, Lindvall enjoyed the technical complexities inherent to this sector and the collaboration between designers, builders, local and state authorities, and care providers. Still, it wasn’t until he was asked to represent his project team at the opening of a Level 2 neonatal intensive care unit renovation that he understood his work is about more than architecture.

“The project’s lead champion stood up and thanked everyone for their hard work to make his dream a reality. Then he said, ‘I just can’t help but think about all the other babies we could have saved if we had this unit earlier,’” Lindvall says. “That’s when it struck me that this wasn’t just a project. We have a unique opportunity to influence, and sometimes save, lives.

What drew you to a career in healthcare design?

The technology in healthcare is ever-changing, which means that design solutions must constantly respond to that. For example, major medical equipment is becoming more precise, faster, and sometimes smaller, which can impact cooling loads, and has a domino effect on the building and systems design. Pharmaceutical and genomic advancements are impacting how and where care is provided. Layer in almost-constant code updates and significant changes in healthcare reimbursement, and you get an amazingly dynamic industry.

What was your first project?

The replacement of St. Mary’s Hospital in Rhinelander, Wis., which is now part of Ascension.

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

That completing a successful healthcare project requires a dedicated team of designers and builders who work with the owner to do what’s best for the project. I try to foster a collaborative approach on all the projects I work on.

On healthcare design trends

Thumbs up: I’m excited to see research take an increasingly prominent role in our design work. Research helps us understand what is effective and why, so we can recreate positive outcomes and steer away from design approaches that don’t help our clients reach their goals.

Thumbs down: Vertically slatted wood partitions, which are used to separate space, but leave some sort of transparency between them. They remind me of my parent’s basement, and I don’t care to see that aesthetic come back.

Three words that describe your design aesthetic

  1. intentional
  2. inviting
  3. modern

Three items on your desk

  1. 1. model of a Sesame Street lamp
  2. small Lego motorcycle set (I ride a real one and my daughters think it’s funny that I have a Lego version, too.)
  3. package of blueberry Pop-Tarts (for emergency use only)

Dog or cat?

Dog, but mine behaves like a cat.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee. My wife got me hooked on it long ago.

Morning person or night owl?

Night owl, but I force myself to get up early.

Beer, wine, or liquor?

Beer. I live in Milwaukee, after all.

Window or aisle seat?

Aisle. It’s more convenient.

Favorite …

City to visit Paris, although it’s been too long


Quote “Good is the enemy of great.”—James C. Collins, an American business consultant. It takes a lot of discipline to push beyond good and get to great solutions.

Social media outlet I’m horrible with social media. I’m on Facebook but have never posted anything.

Snack when you travel Girl Scouts cookies. My daughters are Girl Scouts, so I “have” to buy cookies from both and end up taking a sleeve almost everywhere.

Ice cream flavor Butter Pecan, but in Wisconsin custard trumps ice cream.

Sport Football. My favorite team is the Green Bay Packers. A game at Lambeau Field is a quintessential football experience.

Hobby I used to love to draw, but it seems home repair has replaced it.

Book “Made to Stick,” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. They tell so many pertinent stories about creativity and communication that I find myself re-iterating them often.

Movie character Han Solo. There was never a dull moment when he was in a scene.

Weekend activity Family bike rides. We live close to a great trail system.

Band/musical artist U2.

Guilty pleasure Ginger ale.

App/website Wikipedia. It’s so convenient to look almost anything up at any time, even if I think I should already know it.