College of Environmental Design alumna Jhiah Chang (B.Arch ‘05) is an architect in the field of healthcare design. Chang currently works for ZGF, an architecture firm that specializes in designing spaces such as healthcare and research facilities, academic buildings and corporate campuses, among others.
Since joining ZGF in 2011, Chang has worked on numerous projects including the St. Joseph Medical Center emergency department expansion and the UC San Diego Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute. Prior to ZGF, Chang worked for SmithGroupJJR and CannonDesign.
“I love the camaraderie and knowledge sharing in healthcare design,” Chang said. “Everyone has a passion for pushing the envelope and designing healing environments for patients and caregivers.”
Chang was recently interviewed by Healthcare Design, excerpted below.
What drew me to a career in architecture
I’ve always been into fashion, graphics, and furniture design. Meanwhile, my parents wanted me to pursue a more lucrative, stable career like engineering. Architecture was the happy compromise.
My first project in healthcare design
A Department of Veterans Affairs long-term care and skilled nursing facility in West Los Angeles. As an intern, I focused mostly on building tiny models that required the use of a foam cutter and tweezers and developing presentation materials.
Lesson I learned on that project that I still carry with me today
A great, collaborative team dynamic is everything.
On industry trends
Thumbs up: The cross-pollination with other building industries. I love seeing the line being blurred between healthcare and research, workplace, retail, and hospitality. I’m working on a university project, where we’re bringing health care planning and operations concepts to a student services and administration building. We set up a series of workshops where we’ve been talking about standardization of space, one-stop-shops, and clear wayfinding for students and families, and on-stage/off-stage approaches to circulation to maintain safety and privacy.
Thumbs down: Sloped upper cabinets. They’re unattractive and purely serve as an infection control measure. A more elegant solution would be to add a filler panel above the cabinets or add a soffit to eliminate the upper surface and create a more built-in look.
Most important skill for an architect today
Being able to understand the socioeconomic and political influences on health care policy and design.
Outside the office, you’ll likely find me …
Being inspired by the latest fashion and art. Designers Marie Saint Pierre, Toni Maticevski, and Christian Dior are some of my favorites because of their structural/sculptural approach to creating timeless pieces with a touch of whimsy. And you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Serpentine Pavilion in London, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, or New York’s Museum of Modern Art. When I’m not shopping or gallery hopping, you’ll find me at brunch — my favorite meal of the day.
Read the full interview here.