HCD Rising Star: Claire Peters

Claire Peters, NCIDQ, WELL AP, RID, Project Interior Designer, Associate, HKS (Dallas)

Claire Peters joined HKS in 2014 and has become an integral part of the firm’s healthcare team. Known for having a natural ability to connect with clients, colleagues, and industry consultants, she’s worked with multiple healthcare systems over the 7-plus years with the firm, taking great pride in balancing facility standards and industry guidelines, as well as bringing the latest healthcare design research to each project.

Early on in her career she was elected by her peers to be a representative to leadership. She contributed to initiatives that advocated for junior staff, including enhanced access to licensing resources and onboarding for new employees. Within HKS’s healthcare team, she created an intern mentoring program that paired college summer interns with design team members.

Among her project work, Peters has been instrumental in growing and maintaining the firm’s relationship with HCA Healthcare, working on HKS’ first project with the healthcare system in 2016 and since then, leading more than 25 projects with the client.

In 2022, she led the interior design for the HCA North Florida Gainesville Hospital while collaborating on the development of the HCA Hospital Guidelines that align interior finishes, lighting strategies, and overall design solutions.

For another client, Parkland Health, Peters was indispensable in developing the interior design for the 525,000-square-foot Moody Outpatient Center, completed in 2021. Parkland’s patient population often faces difficulties accessing healthcare services and may be hesitant to seek care, making it imperative to design a clinic that cultivated and protected patient’s health and wellbeing.

Peters and the team worked closely with leadership, the Parkland Health Foundation, and clinical staff to determine the overall interior concept, which features ample amounts of natural light and a palette that is natural, fresh, and welcoming.

Additionally, based on feedback from clients, she has worked with manufacturers to improve products to better suit healthcare design. By being a direct connection between end users and manufacturers, Peters has been a catalyst for bringing improved product solutions to healthcare facilities that focus on durability, infection control, and sustainability.

For the last five years, Peters has been the sustainability champion for firm’s Dallas Health Interiors group, where she works to share the firm’s sustainable initiatives and encourage her team to incorporate green design into their projects. She received her WELL certification in 2018,  and is a member of the Sustainable Interior Advisory Group, which actively develop benchmarks and create resources for HKS designers to utilize.

Peters has developed strong working relationships with medical planners and architects to help bring a fresh perspective to the way HKS approaches designing healthcare facilities. She enjoys being active early in a project, starting at schematics and continuing through construction, to ensure the client’s vision comes to life. Her dedication, curiosity and empathy make her well suited to be a future leader in the industry.

Path to healthcare design: While choosing a career path, I wanted to find a facet of design that I felt could influence positive change in communities. I was drawn to the empathetic and purposeful qualities found in healthcare design. Call it gut instinct, but from the moment I learned about this practice, I knew it aligned with the type of designer I wanted to become. My passion lies in crafting environments that foster a comforting and therapeutic experience for those in vulnerable situations.

Describe your design approach: I create spaces that positively impact peoples’ well-being.

On your desk now: I am currently working on a large pediatric hospital project that, once finished, will serve a large metro area. As one of the lead interior designers, I’m enjoying collaborating with multiple architectural firms and disciplines while honing my leadership skills on a large-scale project. The project is intended to create positive health outcomes for future generations, and it is exciting to be a part of supporting that mission. I am also the head of interior design and FF&E for HKS’ project team working with HCA Healthcare, overseeing projects in California, Texas, Florida, and Colorado.

Most rewarding project to date: The Parkland Moody Outpatient Center in Dallas. It’s a value-driven, change-ready clinic designed to serve a community in need. Patient equity was a central focus while developing the clinic. Our team designed an elevated, yet approachable space through an integrated design approach. We worked closely with the facility, The Parkland Health Foundation, and hospital leadership to jointly create the design concept and goals. This project gave me many opportunities to grow because I was able to engage directly with stakeholders and refine my design skills, ultimately contributing to a project that has made all of us very proud.

What success means to you: On a personal level, I define success through the lens of continuous learning and growth with each project I work on.  On a team level, it’s based on our ability to exceed the client’s expectations. The highlight of a project for me typically occurs during the final walkthrough with clients. Witnessing the joy on their faces and realizing that we’ve crafted a space that serves their needs and surpasses their expectations is truly gratifying.

Industry challenge on your radar: The way in which the industry can leverage artificial intelligence (AI) technology to better serve our clients will be pivotal in the coming years. The utilization of data and AI has the potential to help us refine our design process and streamline and improve project development. Furthermore, integrating AI into our spaces can elevate the personalization of patient and staff areas, creating a more comfortable environment for all. As we adopt these new practices and methods, we must strive to strike a harmonic balance, leveraging technology to preserve and enhance the human experience.

Must-have skill for healthcare designers today: Curiosity is essential for personal growth as a healthcare designer. The industry is in a perpetual state of change with ongoing advancements in research, design strategies, and emerging health considerations that demand our attention. A continual eagerness to acquire fresh skills and understand various facets of the business is indispensable in becoming a well-rounded designer. By embracing curiosity, we can be open to new ideas and able to bridge the gap between other design practice areas such as hospitality, workplace, and education.

For more on the 2023 HCD Rising Stars, read here.

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