Joe Ashcraft (Headshot credit: Neenan Archistruction)

Joe Ashcraft (Headshot credit: Neenan Archistruction)

Joe Ashcraft is a senior architect at Neenan Archistruction (Fort Collins, Colo.). In Healthcare Design’s Face Time Q+A, Ashcraft shares how coming from a family of builders led him to become a designer, the importance of gathering multiple user perspectives during the design process, and why his cat thinks his desk is a great spot for napping.

What drew you to a career in healthcare design?

I grew up in a family of builders: My dad built our house, and both my grandpas were contractors. I was really interested in building but wanted to be more on the design side of it.

When I started at Neenan, it was serendipitous that I was working on the healthcare team, because I quickly fell in love with that design work.

What was your first healthcare project?

A remodel of a recovery area for a surgery center in Fort Collins, Colo.

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

I learned the importance of including all different disciplines in the design process. If you only consult the client’s CEO, then the building design will be catered to them. If you only consult the nursing staff, then the building will focus on meeting their needs.

I value the perspective of everyone who will be using the building, from the CEO to nurses to janitorial staff and patients. A good design will incorporate perspectives from a variety of disciplines.

By taking the time to understand the needs of each person who is using the building, you create something that benefits everyone, as opposed to just one group.

Three healthcare design projects and your role

Reno Orthopedic Center

Reno Orthopedic Center (Image credit: Neenan Archistruction)

1 Reno Orthopedic Center, Reno, Nev., senior architect.

2 Northern Nevada HOPES Community Wellness Center, Reno, Nev., senior architect.

3 EyeHealth Northwest, Tigard, Ore., senior architect.


What do you like best about working in healthcare design?

It is exciting to see how our work can bring an idea to life and make an immediate impact on patients and healthcare workers. I worked on a health center in Oregon, and I remember sitting in a room with that client, hearing them describe what they wanted.

We designed and built the health center and 4 hours after it opened, a baby was delivered there. Seeing a project transform from words into a space that brings life into this world is the most fulfilling aspect of my job.

What challenges about your work keep you up at night?

With healthcare design, there’s so many different pieces that need to come into place. What keeps me up is making sure I have turned over every stone and gathered every bit of information needed, from building codes to material sizes, to make sure everything comes together as intended.

An unexpected item on your desk

My cat! I think she likes the warmth of my computer, so she lounges here while I’m at my desk.

Outside the office, we’ll likely find you …

Joe Ashcraft dogs

Image credit: Joe Ashcraft

Enjoying the Colorado weather with my furry friends, Oy and Lulu.

Dog or cat?

Both. I like the independence of cats and the loyalty of dogs.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee for sure.

Morning person or night owl?

Morning person.

Fashion trend you think should make a comeback

Unfortunately, lots of trends are already coming back whether we like it or not. I think moon boots are my favorite, they are much cooler now than when I had them as a kid.

How did you make your first dollar?

Mowing lawns.

Your go-to karaoke song?

“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.

First album you ever bought

1984” by Van Halen.

Cocktail of choice


Your hidden talent

Determining if a picture is level when hanging it on a wall.

If you weren’t an architect, you would be…

A homebuilder.

Favorite …

Quote “The way to get started is to quit talking and get doing.” – Walt Disney. This inspires me in my work because I love the creativity of designing, but I also am passionate about doing what it takes to bring those ideas to life.

Movie character Sherlock Holmes because he’s able to see the unseen.

Show to binge watch Anything from the Marvel series; those are easy to mindlessly get into.

Joe Ashcraft House

Image credit: Joe Ashcraft

Weekend activity Being my own architecture client. I’m working on putting the finishing touches on my house and I enjoy helping friends and family with their home projects.

Band/musical artist Van Halen.

Guilty pleasure Chocolate. There’s no explanation needed!

Snack when you travel I would say chocolate, but realistically it’s Swedish Fish because they don’t melt or get squished in a suitcase.

Sport High school or college wrestling. I think it’s an amazing sport because it’s just one on one, and it’s not just about strength, it’s about being strategic in how you approach the opponent.

Team San Francisco 49ers football team when Joe Montana was the quarterback.

Book “The Hobbit” because I love the creativity and sense of adventure that J. R. R. Tolkien brings in his stories.

City to visit London. There is so much variety there; you can go from the countryside to the city center in a matter of minutes. And the architecture is incredible there.