10 Qs: Getting to Know the People Behind the Projects

Jeff Sudman: “The more detailed we can be in our endeavors the better the outcome for ourselves, our clients, and our company.”

Jeff Sudman, AIA, ACHA, NCARB, is a Senior Associate based in Dallas and currently manages the HSS projects.

1. Where did you grow up?
Fort Calhoun,  NE

2. How did you get into design?
I took an Autocad class in high school then changed to Architecture when Engineering lost my interest.

3. Who influenced you?
Rod Booze, was a large influence on me. When I started with Ascension Group, I had a few years work experience but not much in depth healthcare work. Being the small company at the time, he was able to work very closely with me on our first large hospital project. Many days he spent sitting right behind me, directing me what to draw, I would challenge him and ask why do it this way, and he would explain the code or why this method was better. It was during this back and forth, that I learned the hierarchies and interconnectedness of healthcare planning. Now I am able to take that knowledge, passed to me during those sessions, and create successful projects on my own. As opportunities arise, I am trying to do the same with the other young architects and planners in our office, directing my knowledge and skills to all that I interact with.

During the beginning of my career I worked with several project managers and architects, many of them were given opportunities that I desired for myself, usually because their resume had more experience or they supposedly had more knowledge. Over time I saw most of these people fail, and then it was left to me and others to pick up the pieces and solve the problem. It was these challenges that taught me better ways to manage people and resources, once I was in a leadership position. The more detailed we can be in our endeavors the better the outcome for ourselves, our clients, and our company. The most important job a project manager has is finding solutions to problems, being creative and collaborating on those solutions is what motivates me to succeed.

4. Why healthcare architecture?
Stumbled into it somewhat. I had done some healthcare prior to starting 18 years ago working for Rod Booze, David Watkins, and Erick Westerholm, and stuck with it.

5. What inspires you?
New technologies and the ‘what if’ that the future may hold.

6. What advice can you give young designers?
Know all the code and technical stuff thoroughly. All the design skills and talent in the world won’t matter a bit, if it can’t be built or doesn’t work for people to use.

7. Most memorable projects?
Presbyterian Hospital of Denton, TX, as it was my first large hospital that I was intimately involved in all parts of.

8. What is your favorite part of the design process?
Creating the models and bringing an idea to 3D life.

9. Where do you see healthcare design in 5 years?
A mix of very large central hospitals, and in a larger portion much smaller mixed-use micro-hospitals and outpatient centers to bring medical care closer to the patients.

10. How do you unplug?
Family time, I try to minimize the amount of weekend hours I work, keep that time for the family, and the occasional binge watching of favorite sci-fi and fantasy series.

E4H Summer Internship by Mason Camp

While taking part in a healthcare design studio at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), I discovered my interest in healthcare architecture. As an architecture graduate student at UTA, we are required to complete an internship at an architecture firm before graduation. I was very eager to work at E4H Environments for Health Architecture this summer.

Interning with E4H’s Dallas office was an amazing experience. As an intern, you might expect to be handed a bunch of busy-work. The E4H team makes it a priority to share their knowledge with students and younger professionals pursuing the field of architecture. The partners listen to what their interns are most interested in learning and strive to place them with the most appropriate mentors and projects. Over the summer, I was involved in several types of healthcare projects, in a variety of phases. This variation of work allowed me to work with almost everyone in our local office.

During my internship, E4H provided me with several learning opportunities, such as site visits. Working hard on a project and then getting to see the walls go up, was incredibly rewarding. Walking through a construction site and asking architects, engineers, and contractors questions was an invaluable experience. What I most appreciated about my coworkers at E4H was that no matter how busy they were, every person was willing to stop what they were doing to answer any questions I had.

In addition to the day-to-day work, the firm is dedicated to giving back to the community through its outreach group, E4Hcares. Every office strives to give back to their local community. This summer, I was involved in two E4Hcares initiatives with the Dallas and the Fort Worth offices: Canstruction and Bark+Build. Canstruction, an annual event held by North Texas Food Bank, is a competition to build a sculpture out of canned foods which are later donated to families in need. Bark+Build, hosted by the AIA, is a doghouse and cat-condo design/build competition between professional teams of architects and contractors, with all proceeds going to the SPCA of Texas. Both charities provide fun, challenging events that give architects and designers a chance to apply their creativity.

An important factor for me when looking for a place to work is the office environment. Everyone knows that it’s hard to work efficiently in a high-stress, high-pressure work setting. E4H is full of knowledgeable professionals that work together in a laid-back atmosphere, while successfully getting things done. While working at E4H, I noticed that the company had an “everybody knows everybody” office culture. E4H is a large firm but has a small firm vibe. I also took notice that the Partners at E4H value taking care of their employees. For example, during the summer, they allow their employees to work an extra hour Monday through Thursday so they can take a half-day off on Friday to be with their families.

E4H was a remarkable group of people to work with, and I enjoyed spending my summer with them. I am grateful for the opportunity. I have gained healthcare architecture knowledge, as well as many skills that will benefit my academics and my career as an architect. Oh, I almost forgot, keep in mind that at the end of the day when the work is done, you better watch your back because everyone has a Nerf gun at their desk. It’s everyone for themselves and you might just get popped when you least expect it!