AIA AAH STERIS Student Design Charrette Celebrates 30 years at HCD


The AIA AAH STERIS Student Design Charrette is a 48-hour design charrette performed annually at the Healthcare Design Conference (HCD). This Academy of Architecture for Health (AAH) program has been running consecutively for the last 30 years. The mission of the charrette is to promote health care education and encourage students to become health care professionals after graduation. This program has nurtured relationships and students into the health care architecture field through the sponsorship of STERIS and countless volunteers. 

Photo_Nov_11__8_15_15_PM__1_.jpgThe AAH’s oversized thank you card shows how thankful people are to STERIS for the charrette through the years.

This program has also changed many people’s lives, including my own. Early on in my career I became interested in the education and mentorship of students and luckily, I was given the opportunity to help with the Charrette taskforce. This AAH committee handles all logistical needs and issues to run the Charrette and is the go between for the participants and the HCD Conference. Since that first year, I was inspired and compelled to serve in many varying capacities for the last 11 years.

The 2018 Task-force volunteers were:

  • Chairperson: Renee Fiala of EYP Houston, 2013 past charrette participant, and has been on the committee since 2016.
  • Exiting Chairperson Volunteer: Sara Shumbera (myself) of Perkins+Will Houston and current AIA AAH Healthcare Design Conference Chair Person.
  • Incoming Volunteer: Graham Sinclair of HKS Atlanta, 2011 past charrette participant and served his first year on the committee.
  • Local Liaison: Marlene Seitz, past participant, current Chairperson for the AIA AAH Fellowships Committee, and Owner of TriARC Architecture and Design in Phoenix. She also served on the Task-force in a rotating position due to the location of the conference and the local sponsorship.

Photo_Nov_12__7_13_44_PM__1__sm.jpg After finishing the presentations, all the students and taskforce members came together for one big group photo.

For this year’s charrette, the Taskforce selected a site adjacent to Banner University Medical Center Phoenix, and chose the topic “Focused Patient Care: Developing a Specialty Ambulatory Care Centers for Unique Patient Types.” In addition to the site, each participating team randomly received different patient types to focus their designs.

Patient specialty types per group were as follows:

  • Ball State University
    • Program type: Ear, Nose and Throat Center
    • Team consisted of Professor Shireen Kanakri with her students Nick Faust, Zach Overschmidt, Hannah Rupprecht and Caitlin McKaughan.
  • Iowa State University
    • Program type: Digestive Health Center
    • Team consisted of Faculty Advisors: Cameron Campbell and Daujin Kim with their students Babafemi Ade-Aina, Taylor Danger, Haley Eckenrod and Mat Townsley.
  • Texas A&M University
    • Program type: Neurology Center
    • Team consisted of Professor Zhipeng Lu with his students Miranda Gilcrease, Homa Psarakli, Katie Reyes and Xiwen Ma.
  • Texas Tech University
    • Program type: Heart and Vascular Center
    • Team consisted of Professor Julie Zook with her students Asher Durham, Chas Gold, Stephanie Helmbergerr and Maria Leon.

The students perform extraordinarily well every year considering the lack of time, knowledge and sleep. This year’s topic has been one of the best due to both the celebration and the diversity of topics between the universities. Additionally, it was memorable because the taskforce wanted to keep some surprises from both the AAH Board and STERIS. Our charrette sponsor lead, Patrick Down, was present when the topic was given to the students. Patrick’s face showed how excited he was with our selection due to his and STERIS’s involvement with Sterile Processing and Surgical platforms being incorporated into the topic. We also gave out commemorative water bottles for the occasion.

IMG_8072.jpgIowa State Team hard at work.

In closing, my 11 years on the charrette would never have happened if not for the dedicated people that came before me. I want to thank all of the past Taskforce volunteers and board members for enabling and evolving this thriving program. Special thanks for the dedication of the faculty at the many universities for helping to inspire and create a beautiful experience for all. And to the AAH Board members and the many presidents throughout the years.

Last but not least, to Patrick Down and the rest of my extended STERIS family. Without their continual love and support to the charrette, our volunteer efforts on the Task-force would be not only less enjoyable but also less attainable. It has been my honor to have had the opportunity to get to know STERIS as a company and its merry band of brothers (or sometimes pandas depending on the outfit of the day). STERIS is an incredible company and through both the bad and good, has continually committed to creating and fostering collaborative knowledge partnerships within the AIA AAH to help educate students and young health care professionals consistently year-after-year.


About the author

Sara Shumbera is a talented, medical planner with over 10 years of health care facility planning experience. She recently joined Perkins+Will, and continues to educate herself and her peers through active involvement within the national, state and local levels.