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Barbara Huelat, CHID, FASID, EDAC, Honored as the 2023 Changemaker at the Healthcare Design Conference in New Orleans

View the 2023 Changemaker Award ceremony video here.

Barbara Huelat credits the diversity of her life experiences – as a designer, a healthcare strategist, a researcher, an author, a hospice volunteer, a dementia caregiver, and several intense and emotional events – for her unique perspective and lifelong commitment to making a difference in the world through design.

She’s succeeded in not just making change, but in leading the charge. For her passion, dedication and leadership as a prolific design practitioner of 40-plus years, a vocal advocate for better care, and an inspiration to others to use design to make a difference in the world, Barbara Huelat, CHID, FASID, EDAC is being recognized as The Center for Health Design’s 2023 Changemaker.

The Changemaker Award, selected by The Center’s Board of Directors from submitted nominations and sponsored by Mecho,  honors individuals or organizations that have demonstrated an exceptional ability to change the way healthcare facilities are designed and built, and whose work has had broad impact on the advancement of healthcare design.

Barbara has dedicated her career to strategic planning, creating healing environments, and solving health challenges for more than 300 healthcare organizations around the world. 

Her vast portfolio of industry contributions includes virtually all types and sizes of domestic and international healthcare facilities, including signature projects with the Mayo Clinics, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute of Japan, King Faisal Research and Specialist Hospital, George Washington Medical Faculty Associates, The Veteran Affairs Planetree facilities, ER One at MedStar, Washington, and the longstanding work with Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.

She’s worked on environments tackling some of healthcare’s most challenging issues and supporting the most vulnerable populations: Emergency operations in a mass casualty; Ebola and pandemics; the cancer journey; violence in mental health; meaningful space for the cognitively impaired; healthcare for wounded warriors; and, biophilic design to influence creativity.

On the global stage, Barbara has helped bridge culturally relevant human-centric design with Western building standards and medicine, and developed solutions that are scalable to be replicated in remote communities of developing countries in Africa.

One colleague describes Barbara as “a one-of-a-kind designer who manages to create rich, organic healing environments in the healthcare space that impact everyone who passes through.” “A true pioneer in the theory and practice of healing design in the healthcare space,” states another, “with a unique ability to create spaces that provide a wonderful counterpoint of calm and tranquility to the high-tech and life-challenging texture of busy healthcare environments.”

Barbara’s influence stretches far beyond her contributions to specific healthcare projects. She has generously shared her expertise and strategies for visualizing environments from a person-centered perspective. EDAC-certified in evidence-based design, Barbara regularly participates in healthcare design research with prominent researchers and organizations, and advocates enthusiastically for its use in making effective design decisions.

As a thought leader on healthcare environments and healthy buildings, she was a founding board member of The Center for Health Design, ASID Fellow and past board member, past AAHID President and board member, and a representative on the National Institute of Health - Health in Buildings Roundtable. She’s been recognized by ASID with numerous First Place Project Design Awards, and with its respected Designer for Humanity and Luminary Awards.

In addition to dozens of scholarly white papers, journal articles and industry presentations, Barbara is the author of two nationally acclaimed books: Healing Environments: What’s the Proof; and Healing Environments for the Mind, Body and Spirit. Her newest book due out later this year, Taming the Chaos of Dementia with her daughter Sharon T. Pochron PhD, is a hopeful and practical guide to taming the challenges of dementia with creative interventions inspired by real stories of sufferers and caregivers alike.

“Barbara holds a special place in our hearts at The Center,” notes Debra Levin, Hon. FASID, EDAC, President and CEO of The Center for Health Design. “As a past board member, long time member on our Environmental Standards Council, frequent expert presenter in our webinar program, and member of our inaugural class of EDAC graduates, she’s deserving of this recognition for so many reasons.”




The 2023 Changemaker Award will be presented to Barbara Huelat during The Center for Health Design Awards and Changemaker Keynote on Monday, November 6 at the 2023 Healthcare Design Conference + Expo in New Orleans, Louisiana.


The Changemaker Award Sponsor since 1999: