Announcements 06.26.2019

Meet Aliza Goldsmith, an E. Todd Wheeler Health Fellow, Class of 2020

Where are you from?
Los Angeles, California

In what city do you live?
Washington, D.C.

What is your degree, and what institution is it from?
MFA Interior Architecture, The George Washington University; MA Political Science, Tel Aviv University; BA Politics, Occidental College

Why is healthcare design so important to you?   
Three weeks shy of my 21st birthday, my mom was diagnosed with a rare cancer of the appendix.  My family was fortunate to travel the country, spending months on end at some of the best comprehensive cancer centers seeking experimental treatment for this rare disease. Over the course of four and a half years, I witnessed firsthand how significantly the built environment impacted my mom’s health as a patient and my family’s experience as caregivers. While design had always been a passion and hobby of mine, it was this experience which proved to me the significance and legitimacy of interior design as a career path. I believe that well-designed healthcare spaces can help a patient’s recovery and healing and add dignity and control during a tremendously challenging time.

Why did you want to pursue a career in healthcare design? 
Prior to my MFA, I managed government affairs and intercultural outreach for the Anti-Defamation League in Los Angeles. I loved my job and my colleagues but would find myself in meetings with diplomats and politicians, and my eye would begin wandering around the room. I would marvel at their spectacular residences and stately offices and knew that perhaps it was time to pursue this further. I have always had a deep love of design and architecture, and after losing my mom, it felt like it was now or never to give this passion a shot. I believe that through healthcare design as a professional, I can impact more lives and as a lay leader in the civil rights world, I can have more of an impact. My personal experiences and passion for healthcare design push me and my love of architecture and good design keep me motivated.

What was it about the E. Todd Wheeler Health Fellowship that attracted you?
When I first read about this opportunity, it seemed too good to be true. Since beginning my studies in Interior Architecture, I have been researching the top firms and have always had an eye on Perkins and Will. I was drawn to the firm not only because of the beautiful projects, but also the emphasis on sustainability, diversity, and on the people of Perkins and Will. As someone who wants to go into healthcare interiors, the opportunity to learn from this team was simply unmatched. And because my previous two degrees are in Political Science, I do miss researching and writing, and very much look forward to that aspect of this role as well.

What does it mean to you, personally, to have been selected as an inaugural health fellow at our firm?
Not only do I feel tremendous gratitude and privilege for the opportunity to participate in this fellowship, but being part of the inaugural class is particularly exciting. During the interview process, when I would ask about measures of success for the fellows or typical projects, the answer was often “you will help us figure that out.” What a tremendous opportunity to be part of shaping this fellowship for our class and for all future fellows. I look forward to learning from my peers across the country and hopefully setting a high bar for what this fellowship means at Perkins and Will, but also in the larger design community. While healthcare design may not be seen as the sexiest choice for graduates, it is such a significant field and changing so rapidly and I cannot imagine a better place to start my design career.

What do you hope to learn from the experience?
In my phone interviews, I probably took 15 solid pages of notes and told the interviewees how much they taught me during that short period of time. I cannot even begin to imagine how much I will learn in my year as a fellow. I look forward to sharpening my technical skills and plan to keep my eyes and ears open to absorb as much as I possibly can.

In which Perkins and Will studio will you be doing your fellowship?
I’m thrilled to join the New York studio!

When you’re not designing healthcare projects, what do you do in your spare time?
I love going to the movies, exploring museums, playing pub trivia with friends, hosting dinner parties, and am always on the hunt for the perfect aperol spritz.

What do you hope to do, see, or experience in the city where your fellowship is taking place?
New York is a city that I’ve always loved, so I’m thrilled to have the chance to live there. I hope to take in as much of the city as I can—from the food, music, people, parks and theater. I know there will be no shortage of entertainment and adventure.

Fun facts about Aliza

Favorite ice cream flavor:
Tied between mint chip and coffee

How you prefer your coffee:
Iced with almond milk

World’s best restaurant (in your opinion):
Acqua al 2 in Florence

The last thing you laughed about until you cried:
VEEP

The one song that always makes you feel like dancing:
“September” by Earth, Wind and Fire