Summer Leadership Summit–A Look Back


By Mayda V. Colón, AIA

It was bittersweet to say goodbye to new friends, to our professional family, as we all headed back home after a fruitful and fun conference. The sureness is that we will see each other again next year!

The Summer Leadership Summit, held annually in Chicago, is an intimate conference where healthcare design professionals get to share one on one their experiences and their goals. This year, we focused on the Evolution/Revolution of the design practice in healthcare.

We looked into the past, at how 30 years ago the doctor and hospital was the star of the show and how we are moving towards a more patient-centric healthcare, and ultimately toward a focus on the social determinants of health.

We looked into the present with the FGI Guidelines Workshop, we learned about Exam/Procedure/ORs Rooms and telemedicine in the upcoming FGI 2018 publication. We learned how the FGI, AAH, CHD, and industry professionals work together to update the Guidelines, as an example we studied and discussed low acuity pods (fast track, vertical ED rooms) and what are the next steps to incorporate some guidance in the next FGI publication.

Embodied Labs showed us how it would feel to be Alfred, a 74 year old patient with advanced macular degeneration and hearing loss through virtual reality. Citigroup explained how the healthcare industry  continues to move towards higher integration, scale, and diversified healthcare.


We looked into the future, at how to improve the resilience of healthcare systems and their communities. We looked at how drivers of progress influence technology, healing, and wholeness, that healthcare is becoming less of a cold reactive process and more of an active compassionate process.

The SLS 17 exceeded my expectations. As a first time attendee, I was able to share in industry focused presentations, I was welcomed into a diverse network of colleagues and celebrated with them in a fundraiser for the Academy of Architecture for Healthcare Foundation at the Rookery a beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright renovated atrium.

And, not to forget the sight of the beautiful waterfall during our tour of the Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital/MOB. A facility focusing on the patient perspective and wellness, as well as a commitment to nature and efficiency.

The Summer Leadership Summary is co-produced by the AIA Academy of Architecture for Health and the American College of Healthcare Architects. Presentations of the SLS can be found at

I hope you will join me and our esteemed colleagues next year in Chicago for what will no doubt be, another educational and inspiring event.