Cathleen Lange

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In my first week of architecture school, as an 18-year-old kid from New Jersey, our class was asked to write about 'what made us mad in architecture.' I think I startled my professor when I declared that re-creations of the past made me angry. I'm not sure that at the time I really knew why I disliked the idea of replication so much, but looking back, I think it's just that I appreciate change.

My foray into the world of healthcare architecture began as pure dumb luck. The first week of actual employment, I found myself designing headwalls for ICUs at Mass General. I had never so much as spent time in a hospital, but was fascinated by the many small, crucial puzzle pieces that needed to be arranged so that they worked for nurses and doctors while providing a reassuring aesthetic for patients. It was in Week 2, when I was asked to attend a meeting with parents of children who were ICU patients, that I realized how special this work really was. I guess I was hooked: since then, I've spent most of my career as an architect in healthcare.

If I liked change as a young architecture student, I found my calling as a healthcare architect, a role that is changing as rapidly as healthcare itself. Technologies that are supposed to get smaller get larger instead. A crisis on another continent forces a sudden shift in a client's priorities. The shift from inpatient to outpatient care may require new facilities but how will they be paid for when reimbursements are smaller?

Keeping up with the pace of change and not knowing what lies beyond the five-year horizon are great motivators. In combination with the constant goal of transforming the patient experience combine, it gives me a purpose, ambition, and the certain knowledge that I will never get bored.


Facilities Master Plan
Concord Hospital

Urgent Care Center
North Shore Physicians' Group

Mass General/North Shore Outpatient Ctr
Partners HealthCare

Smilow Cancer Hospital
Yale-New Haven Hospital

Children's Hospital West Tower
Children's Hospital and Health System

Cardiovascular Center
University of Michigan Health System

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