After earning her bachelor’s degree in psychology and international studies from Pittsburg State University, Autumn Wines gained a wealth of experience in a variety of roles, including interventionalist and research, psychosocial rehabilitation provider, and as a child life services volunteer. She was poised to pursue a career in child life when she says she realized that in order to create real change, she needed to see the entire picture. At that point, she identified earning an architecture degree as the final piece to her already firm foundation of experience and entered Clemson’s School of Architecture, where she received her Master of Architecture degree. In 2019, she joined HOK, where she brings her diverse background in psychology, healthcare administration, child life services, and healthcare design to her role as a medical planner at the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. During her first year at the firm, she served as a programming and planning leader for a new outpatient center for Grady Health System Correll Pavilion in Atlanta, helping to develop a consistent clinic module that provides a flexible and adaptable environment for patient care. She was also one of two lead medical planners on a 275,000-square-foot freestanding children’s comprehensive outpatient center for a confidential client. Most recently, she earned a coveted spot on the team for HOK’s first pediatric inpatient tower project, where her experience in child life services is being utilized to help ensure the developmental and cognitive needs of children and adolescents are being served as the design develops.
She’s a leader beyond the firm’s project teams, as well, volunteering at local healthcare organizations and serving as a member of the DC Chapter of Women in Healthcare. She’s also committed to mentoring students, volunteering at local grade, middle, and high schools as well as working with undergrad students on their architecture school applications.
Path to healthcare design: After earning my bachelor’s degree in psychology and international studies from Pittsburg State University, I worked at the Center for READing at PSU, Children’s Mercy Hospital Children’s Mercy Hospital Adele Hall in Kansas City, Mo., and Spring River Mental Hospital in Riverton and Columbus, Kan. During these experiences, I learned to identify opportunities for change and was eager to implement solutions to the design challenges we faced each day while providing care and interventions. Poised to pursue a career in child life, I realized that in order to create real change, I needed to see the entire picture. At that point, I identified earning an architecture degree would be the final piece to the already firm foundation of experience I had gained thus far.
Describe your design approach: Empathize with users, identify opportunities, and implement solutions.
On your desk now: A children’s inpatient tower for a confidential client. I’ve advocated for opportunities to serve on teams for pediatric projects and have been given the opportunity to be on the team for HOK’s first pediatric inpatient tower. My experience in child life services at a major pediatric medical center are being used in the earliest phases of design. Part of my personal mission is to ensure the developmental and cognitive needs of children and adolescents are being served as the design develops.
Most rewarding project to date: A children’s comprehensive outpatient center for a confidential client. I got to work directly with the users who were fueled with a matched energy and passion to mine. We worked hard to translate operations and patient safety needs into efficient and beautiful clinical environments for pediatric care. Then I kept the momentum going by collaborating with the design team to ensure that all clinical comments were reflected in the interior architecture and design and that medical equipment needs were coordinated with consulting engineers. This project has set a high standard for my future projects.
What success means to you: Success is being empathetic to our user groups, to the client, and to the users I will never meet but that our building will impact for the next 50-plus years. My success is being willing to listen and ask questions to learn, develop trust, identify opportunities for the future, and then act on that knowledge to advocate and implement solutions.
Industry challenge on your radar: I’d like to see the healthcare design industry re-evaluate the number and location of respite and lactation spaces we provide to our staff, patients, and visitors, so that we empower users to not only raise expectations in these spaces but to also be aware of these spaces for others. I think the industry also needs to continue to evaluate our international counterparts to develop design standards in the United States for daylight into our core spaces.
Must-have skill for healthcare designers today: Empathy. As designers we’re the people bringing the users’ vision to life. We communicate and listen to identify opportunities and make sure their shared knowledge and experience is heard throughout each space. As designers, we challenge users to think past what they know now and share what could be.
New pandemic-inspired work habit: After the novelty of working from home had passed in the beginning of 2020, I realized one of the things I missed about being in the office was the ability to run into someone and just chat with them about life. I began creating those moments virtually, being intentional about sending a note or just giving someone a call for a five-minute chat. This has allowed me to develop relationships with many new colleagues both in our office and across the nation.
Anne DiNardo is executive editor of Healthcare Design. She can be reached at [email protected].