About two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the World Architecture Festival in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where two of our Miami studio’s projects had been shortlisted for design awards. I had just finished presenting one of them—The Greater Accra Regional Hospital at Ridge in Accra, Ghana—when a man in the audience, whom I’d noticed had been recording my presentation with his phone, approached me.
“Excuse me. May I take a picture with you?” he asked politely.
“Of course!” I replied, wondering who he was and how he knew me.
“It is a privilege to meet you,” he said.
I blushed. I told him the honor was mine.
“I’m an architect in Ghana,” the man continued. “And I’m here as a delegate for my country. I want to tell you something that I hope you will share around the world as you present your project.”
My eyes widened. What was this stranger about to say to me? I nodded.
“I wanted to let you know that your building—the hospital you designed in Ghana—is a symbol of hope and progress for the city of Accra. For generations, the original hospital was known as the place you go to die. The new building is known as the place you go to live. For generations to come, it will now be known as a place of hope.”
It’s moments like these when I’m reminded why I do what I do—why this work, as grueling as it often is, is worth it. As a designer, I strive to make the world a better place—to leave things better than the way I found them.
While the Ghana hospital project ultimately didn’t win a WAF award, I knew I’d already won the most meaningful prize anyone could offer. I left Amsterdam with a winning heart. And I have Cecil Abbey, the man who took our picture, to thank for that.