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Meet Kelsi Schwede, AIA

Kelsi Schwede, AIA is an architect and medical planner who creates healthcare spaces that make a big difference in the experience of the patient, family, and provider. Passionate about pediatric design, she works with clients across the country to understand their needs to develop solutions and designs that respond to their goals.  

Read more about how she approaches thoughtful healthcare design.  

Why architecture? 

When I was little, I wanted to be a builder. My grandpa and uncle were both in the custom home business, and my parents built their own home when I was five. Me? I used my Legos to build homes and structures for my Barbies. I studied architecture in college with a minor in interior design, and in graduate school, I focused on health and design. 

What motivates you the most in your work? 

Good design can make such a difference in healthcare. Hospitals can be intimidating, and are places where people have both wonderful and difficult experiences, especially for children. “I’m really drawn by the way design can impact how they experience something as scary as healthcare. There are so many ways that we can make these environments more positive and welcoming, and I’m excited to be a part of that.  

Who has been the strongest influence on your career? 

I’ve been very fortunate to have several strong planners as mentors. Most recently, Tom Susko has been my biggest influence. I’ve had the chance to work alongside him at Boston Children’s, and he’s taught me so much. He takes the time to answer all of my questions and goes beyond the expected to share his knowledge. He encourages me to chase opportunities and advocate for myself.  

What advice do you have for people who want to go into healthcare architecture? 

There’s so much value and design in it, with so much reward. You are constantly learning and growing from your team, and there’s so much variety in your work. You can explore many different roles and because the time frames on projects are often long, you can build deep and lasting relationships with your client and team.  

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