New Executive Director Alyssa Scholz Brings Holistic Approach to Design of Healthcare Environments

New Executive Director Alyssa Scholz Brings Holistic Approach to Design of Healthcare Environments

Cuningham welcomes Alyssa Scholz as Executive Director of the firm’s Healthcare Studio. 

Alyssa brings more than 20 years of leadership designing world-class healthcare environments that catalyze medical innovation and create exceptional patient and caregiver experience. At a time when the market has never been more complex, her differentiated perspective gained from working on both the owner and service side of the profession allows Cuningham to shape the future of healthcare through cutting-edge design.

A Holistic Approach to Healthcare Design

Alyssa’s design philosophy is rooted in inclusive engagement practices that respond to the diversity of needs within healthcare communities—from executive leadership to caregivers, residents, visitors, and staff. Experience gained during her time with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles gives Alyssa a unique understanding among design professionals of what it takes to run a hospital—from day-to-day logistics to the patient experience.

“From managing client costs to designing with human experience at the forefront of every decision, my experience on the owner side gives me a holistic understanding of the healthcare ecosystem,” Alyssa says. “It allows the teams I lead to create spaces that stand the test of time.”

Alyssa has worked with almost every major medical center in California. Her extensive experience includes high-profile, large-scale projects for Hoag, Kaiser Permanente, Scripps, Cedars Sinai, UC Davis, Stanford, and UCSD, among many others.

Most recently, Alyssa was the co-leader of Gensler’s global healthcare practice, where she pioneered new models of care delivery to increase patient-provider loyalty while reducing costs, optimizing operations, and providing the infrastructure to fuel discoveries. She will lead Cuningham’s healthcare studio with a similar goal of advancing transformative healthcare design that empowers patients and improves public health.

“Alyssa's unwavering passion for healthcare design, ability to foster strong client relationships, exceptional leadership skills, and genuine focus on others make her an ideal addition to the Cuningham team. I eagerly look forward to the exciting journey ahead.”

Mark Tiscornia

Cuningham Project Director

Cuningham's design for the vertical expansion to Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa, Arizona adds five additional floors, increasing bed capacity and housing an expanded women and infant services program.

Alyssa was drawn to Cuningham for its reputation as an industry leader in healthcare design and sees the opportunity to leverage the firm’s expertise in designing complex facilities.

“The Healthcare Studio at Cuningham is unparalleled in its ability to design and execute highly technical healthcare facilities,” Alyssa says. “I am thrilled to lead this team in creating responsive environments that promote community, dignity, and well-being for both workers and patients.”

Alyssa’s leadership extends into classroom. As a long-standing member and Associate Faculty at The Design School at Arizona State University, Alyssa teaches the practical and ethical dimensions of leadership within the fields of design and architecture, preparing the next generation of designers to push the industry forward with resilience, boldness, vision, and credibility.

Advancing the Industry Though Thoughtful Design, Regenerative Systems

One of the biggest challenges healthcare designers face, according to Alyssa, is creating thoughtful spaces that support the whole person based on where they are in the continuum of care. Designers must lead with empathy and understanding, applied to both patients and caregivers. 

“The current ‘caregiver’ approach presents a challenge to designers,” Alyssa says. “Being a caregiver is incredibly difficult, taxing work. Healthcare environments that fail to consider the needs of those in caregiver roles during the planning and design phase risk a decreased quality in care.”

To reduce water usage in Arizona’s dry climate, Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Center’s new Outpatient Services Building uses low flow fixtures, providing a 35 percent water savings.

By focusing on spaces deliberately designed to allow staff to decompress and recover, Alyssa’s approach enhances patient care and plays a positive role in patient outcomes.

Cuningham’s commitment to climate-resilient, environmentally sustainable architecture also drew Alyssa to join the team. “It’s no secret that hospitals are one of the largest carbon producers within the built environment,” Alyssa says. “Waste and water consumption present massive challenges. I’m looking forward to collaborating with our leaders in regenerative design and strategy to help clients reach their goals and push the industry toward a more sustainable and healthy future.”

To learn more about Cuningham and the firm’s healthcare environments, connect with Alyssa.