Working in healthcare design for nearly a decade, Jessica Symons says she thrives on the challenges each project presents.
“It’s so important to understand the inner workings of each client’s practice so that the design is effective for their unique needs,” she says. “I’m never bored with all the variety.”
For proof, look no further than her recent projects, including several pharmacy remodels driven by the new USP 800 guidelines, an expansion for Meritas Health Occupational Therapy Clinic in North Kansas City, Mo., and completion of six ORs for University of Missouri Hospital in Columbia, Mo.
TreanorHL (Kansas City, Mo.), which she joined four years ago after working at HTK Architects (Topeka, Kan.), also supports her commitment to service-oriented work in Peru in partnership with Centura Health, Global Health Initiatives, and the Peruvian Union University. Symons also focuses on making an impact at home, serving as co-chair for the AIA Kansas City Women in Design Committee.
“It’s been an amazing way to give women a voice in a male-dominated field,” she says.
What was your first healthcare project?
Meritas Health Pavilion for Women at North Kansas City Hospital in North Kansas City, Mo. This was a renovation of an existing tenant space on the fifth floor of the hospital.
What lesson did you learn on that project that you still carry with you today?
The need for attention to detail in healthcare design work. Even the smallest details contribute to the effectiveness of administering healthcare, so they’re all important. I will never forget a corner guard again.
On Industry Trends …
Thumbs up: Everything these days seems to be movable or flexible—casework, dialysis stations, walls—and I think this takes growth, customization, and future technological advances into consideration, which I absolutely appreciate.
Thumbs down: Stark white modernism. Clean is the way to go, but everything white can come off as cold.
Three words that describe your design aesthetic
Outside the office, you’ll likely find me …
On my new inflatable standup paddleboard! Few things feel as good as being in the middle of a calm lake soaking in the sun.
Quote “I’m always prepared to be amazed, and I am never disappointed.”—Celeste Headlee, journalist and radio host.
Movie character Samwise Gamgee from “The Lord of the Rings.” I mean is there a more loyal person in the history of ever?
Band/musical artist Ed Sheeran, Michael Bublé, Josh Groban. Music that gives you the feels.
Color Teal. I was obsessed with the free paint chips at Walmart as a kid, and my favorite was called “Tree Frog Green.”
Guilty pleasure Mint chocolate chip cookie dough shakes from Sheridan’s Frozen Custard.
Snack when you travel Beef jerky.
Sport Volleyball (to play), but I love watching any sports around big groups of happy people.
Team Kansas City Royals and Chiefs.
Three unexpected items on your desk
1 mud-built model of a Peruvian hut. I bought it during a service trip in Peru. It’s a reminder of the beautiful and meaningful work we’re doing.
2 my EDAC certificate, which I earned in January.
3 a spider plant. The touch of green nature is refreshing.
Coffee or tea?
I’ve never had either one (don’t judge me!), but I LOVE drinking Dr Pepper out of a wine glass. It tastes better that way.
Your hidden talent?
I can crack an egg flawlessly with one hand. And I’m VERY proud of it.
Fiction or nonfiction?
I love a great fiction story (“Harry Potter,” “Ella Enchanted”), but lately I’m all about the nonfiction. I recently finished “Girl, Wash Your Face” (Am I right, ladies?), “The Alchemist,” and “True Refuge” and was very inspired by all of them.
Morning person or night owl?
I used to be an absolute night owl, but I’m just a sleep-whenever-I-can person now. Hello, adulthood.
If I wasn’t an architect, I would be …
After working in healthcare architecture, I’d most likely be in healthcare, having seen the amazing impact it has. Or I’d be a world-traveling Instagrammer.
Symons served as project manager on two clinical housing units for volunteers living in the Amazon in Peru and serving the region’s medically deprived population.