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2008 Changemaker: Joseph G. Sprague, FAIA, FACHA

Joe Sprague, Senior Vice President and Director of Health Facilities at HKS Architects in Dallas, Texas, and President of the ACHA Board of Regents is the recipient of the 2008 Changemaker Award. Selected by CHD's Board of Directors, The Changemaker honors individuals or organizations who have demonstrated exceptional ability to make change happen.


Joe is chairman of the AIA Guidelines for Design and Construction of Health Care Facilities, and is president of the Facility Guidelines Institute (FGI). Joe received the FGI Commitment Award for his achievements as the chairman of the 2006 Guidelines for Design and Construction of Health Care Facilities.


Under Sprague’s leadership, the Health Guidelines have been retooled, modernized and updated to account for new healthcare delivery systems, technologies and changes based on research. Sprague is noted for being a respected innovator and leader in the healthcare design profession and is applauded for his continued dedication to the Guidelines process.


A few of his achievements include:

  • Member of the Guidelines since 1974
  • One of three members who saved the Guidelines from extinction in 1985
  • Responsible for receiving Federal funding to support development of the Guidelines process
  • One of the founders of the Facility Guidelines Institute
  • Vice chairman of the 1987 and 1992/1993 editions
  • Chairman of the 1997/1998, 2001, and 2006 editions
  • Chairman emeritus for the 2010 edition


Additional changes in the Guidelines while Sprague has led the process have been progressive and led to important improvements in health care environments. Examples include:

  • More public input from a wider base, not only from professionals but from patients and other consumers.
  • Encourage and sponsor research projects to support the evidence-based decision-making process exemplified by the current single-bed private room as the minimum standard for typical nursing units.
  • Work constantly to improve the process and the content of the Guidelines to keep it a dynamic document that truly reflects the state of the art.
  • Continue to have the courage and wisdom to adopt requirements that are forward looking and address the needs of the future, looking backward only to discover what not to do.


  • Continue to strive for a document that is credible, reasonable, and knowledge-based and that will maintain the tradition of the American hospital as the role model for the rest of the world.


Sprague, who has been in the industry over 36 years, serves as health facilities principal and technical adviser on various health care projects with HKS. Prior to joining HKS, Joe was director of design and construction at the American Hospital Association. He was responsible for representing hospitals nationwide, including managing state-of-the-art resources in both government and voluntary standard-setting bodies. Developing a high degree of understanding of the principles utilized in health facility standards affecting design, Joe brings unique expertise to each project, seeing that the most current thinking is incorporated into each design.


He is Past President of the AIA Academy of Architecture for Health and Chairman of the NFPA Health Care Section. He is a Fellow in the American Institute of Architects, a Founding Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Architects, and a Fellow in the Health Facilities Institute.


Joe's work has been widely published and he is a frequent lecturer in health facility planning, design and construction.