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Architect Interview: CollinsWoerman

A series of to-the-point interviews with local developers, architects, designers, and movers and shakers. This week: Phil Giuntoli, a Principal at CollinsWoerman. Thoughts on who we should talk to next? Email us at and let us know.

[Photos by CollinsWoerman]

So what is it that you actually do?
PG: Most architectural firms are either design firms focused on the end product or service firms focusing on reliability and responsiveness. We're the “and" firm, and our projects are focused on both a holistically successful outcome and an adaptable delivery process tailored to each client's culture.
Whew, okay. So what's the main thing that sets that approach apart?
PG: Empathy. We have empathy for the patient, provider, family and the administration. Very few architects focus on all of the people affected by the design in equal measure.
What are some of your favorite projects from the past?
PG: My favorite project is my first hospital design. It was a children's hospital in New Orleans and ... their existing patients were mostly rehab patients, children who, at the time, were called Thalidomide babies. Many had extreme deformities. [That's where] I found my place in architecture. At age 10 I knew I wanted to be an architect, upon exiting the subway in downtown Chicago heading to art lessons and looking up at the buildings. At 24, I knew I wanted to do healthcare design because it might make a difference in someone's life. I thought that I could help in some small way.
That's certainly a pretty tall order -- what's something you have coming up that you're particularly excited about?
PG: We are working with Group Health on the redesign of their ambulatory care work processes, which will result in redesigned facilities. It's very patient-centric but also cost effective in its approach to delivery. They hope it will become a model for care in the age of healthcare reform.
Last question: what building would you just love to get your hands on?
PG: I'd like an international foundation to drop bags of money on our front counter and tell us to design a network of facilities that will enable health throughout the world. Obviously, this would be a team effort. Many bright people would help us understand what we needed to design. It would be challenging, enlightening and rewarding. In the back of my mind, I believe it's also probably very simple.