Through the eyes of interior architects: The new Garfield Innovation Center + future of healthy building

Adding to my repertoire of agents for good in producing Total Health, I have recently connected with the architecture community, since community colleague Scott Kratz ( @ScottKratz ), you know the person behind DC’s most awesome future bridge park (@DCBridgePark), asked for my help in moderating this panel: Panel: Improving Health Through Active Design | AIA DC.

While I was getting to know those amazing people, I also happened to be visiting the brand newly opened Kaiser Permanente Garfield Innovation Center (@KPGarfield) in San Leandro, California, as part of the meeting of the Council on Innovation of The Conference Board (@ConferenceBoard).

There I got to meet, for the first time, Kaiser Permanente’s facilities innovation team, including Linda Raker, Jennifer MacDonald, and Abelardo Ruiz. What excellent timing for my learning journey.

I’ve known the work of this team for a really long time, because they have shaped almost all of the spaces I’ve worked in or received medical care in. The Center for Total Health (@KPTotalHealth), Garfield Center’s sibling and co-innovator in Washington, DC, is connected to their inspiration, so it’s kind of like a child finding a parent for the first time. So many questions.

Here’s what the new spaces look like. Now heading into its 9th year, The Garfield Center appears transformed into an “ideate and test” space PLUS a place to dialogue, work, and dream space.

That is me in the current “women’s” bathroom. I’ll be writing a post about why that’s special in a little bit – too much innovation for one post 🙂

As part of the Council of Innovation meeting, we got a special tour of the brand new Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center (no photos taken except for one, clinical areas), where Linda and Jennifer discussed how their work, dubbed “The Total Health Environment” comes together to create a healing, humane space. It’s a unique opportunity to see the intention that people bring to our health, in ways that aren’t visible. Linda and Jennifer have given me some of their materials to share here, which I will, in prep for the panel above. And/or just come to the panel and hear about designing for health from the experts.

Our faciliites innovation team works very much in the tradition of one of our founders, Sidney Garfield, MD, who hoped to be an architect early in his career, and made a name for himself eventually for designing compassionate, healing spaces – the payment model and other ideas came later. His descendants number 35 in the design organization today, and thousands in the facilities organization that are together implementing 4,000 projects at Kaiser Permanente, very much part of a healing, sustainable, health, system.

Thanks a ton to our facilities innovation team, Garfield Innovation Center and its Director Jennifer Liebermann (@JRuzekLieberman) for re-opening the doors to all of the invisibles that are really visible when it comes to achieving total health.


Fantastic upgrade. I arrived at the Garfield Center for an innovation forum a few years ago and discovered in mid-live Tweet that I did not have a charge cord for my dying ipad. I Tweeted for a loaner, and noted my jacket color and place in the audience. Within three minutes, a Garfield staffer was tapping me on the shoulder with a charge cord in hand.

Steve – What can we say except that we have become great partners in developing (and more importantly) transferring innovation, just like our members expect. It’s a pleasure to serve you and all of our members and staff 🙂

Ted Eytan, MD