Pankey has created a niche for herself in behavioral health design, leading new planning approaches at HOK, serving on the behavioral health crisis unit topic group for the Facility Guidelines Institute, and teaching a behavioral health course at Washington University in St. Louis. Here, she discusses her career path, favorite design trend, and what she’d do if she wasn’t an architect.

What drew you to healthcare design?

It is meaningful work. I enjoy solving complicated problems and learning new things. Additionally, when I was in graduate school, my dad died of heart disease. That experience gave me a firsthand look at the patient and family experience and changed how I think about design.

How did behavioral health design become a focus for you?

My father’s mom had postpartum depression in 1936 and was institutionalized. She never left the system. I’m so happy with the progress made since that era but we need to continue to improve these facilities. When I joined HOK in 2016, I worked on a behavioral health hospital for the Wyoming Department of Health, which furthered my interest.

On behavioral health design trends:

Thumbs up … Much-needed behavioral health crisis stabilization units. They allow for the kind of specific care needed for these patients.

Thumbs down … Enclosed nurses’ stations. More aggressive behaviors are documented when nurses’ stations are enclosed.

Three unexpected items on your desk:

1. An air plant in a girl figure pot
2. A black-and-white postcard from the Guggenheim Museum of a lady wearing a hat stylized after the iconic museum building
3. A framed saying that describes my tendency to leave nothing

Favorite …

Weekend activity Relaxing by the pool and reading a book while my boyfriend grills dinner for me. (Thank you, Aaron.)

Bands/musical artists India Arie, Etta James, Michael Bublé, Tracy Chapman, Eric Clapton. I tend to like the blues, Motown, and songbook artists.

Sport Hiking, if that’s considered a sport.

Book “David and Goliath” by Malcom Gladwell. I enjoy pretty much anything he has written.

Movie character Mona Lisa Vito from “My Cousin Vinny.” She is underestimated by everybody, but she’s smart as a whip and doesn’t take guff from anyone.

Name three healthcare projects you’ve worked on in the last year and your role on each one:

1. Wyoming Department of Health, State Hospital in Evanston, Wyo., and Life Resource Center in Lander, Wyo., project manager

2. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Colo., senior medical planner

3. Laureate Psychiatric Clinic and Hospital, part of Saint Francis Health System, in Tulsa, Okla., project executive and senior medical planner

Morning person or night owl?

I’m right in the middle. I don’t wake up quickly or stay up very late.

Coffee or tea?

Chai tea latte

How did you make your first dollar?

Babysitting, but my first job was at Burger Chef. I was a cashier but also helped out when something needed to be done. One day, I had to peel onions for the entire shift. Yuck!

Your hidden talent?

I sing and act. I’m in a drama group at the large Methodist church I attend. I have performed in small ensemble dramas and sung solos at services.

Your go-to karaoke song?

“Love Shack” by The B-52’s

Last game you played?

Scattergories. I’ve been told I think in a starburst pattern—all over the place, but it eventually comes back to center. It serves me well in that game and when planning healthcare spaces.

If you weren’t an architect you would be…

A fashion designer! I love clothes and shoes.