10/02/18 Alumni Spotlight: Alise Robles ‘15
Alise Robles was recently named a Rising Star by Healthcare Design Magazine. This new distinction is awarded to individuals who have worked in healthcare design for less than 10 years and whom the editors of the magazine predict will be the industry’s next great leaders. Alise has an undergraduate degree in architecture from USC. Currently working as an architectural designer at the architecture, engineering, and planning firm SmithGroup, alongside fellow USC alumnus and SmithGroup’s Los Angeles/San Diego office director Bonnie Khang-Keating, Alise has been able to focus on healthcare and technology in her recent projects and research. She is especially interested in how artificial intelligence (AI) will affect healthcare environments in the future. Alise and five other professionals who won the Rising Star award will be profiled in the October 2018 issue of Healthcare Design. They are also all invited to attend the HCD Expo and Conference in Phoenix, Arizona where the winners will be recognized. Why is the intersection between design and healthcare important? To understand the importance of the intersection, one needs to understand the importance of each respectively. Thanks to faculty member Lee Olvera, I came to the distinct realization of why design matters while in the undergraduate program at USC Architecture. Design is a disciplined pursuit. We design things to solve problems, not just to satisfy a personal desire. Design is about excelling with and amongst our peers as they offer the most in-depth context at judging the value of what we do. Design is about knowing the responsibility we have to those we offer our work to. As designers, we must constantly validate what we do. It is in the ability to quantify our design solutions that our value can be evaluated. So long as there are humans, there will always be a population that needs to access healthcare. As a nation, we are now challenged as citizens to remedy an ailing system. Whatever cocktail of solutions you personally believe can remedy the multiplicity of challenges facing the healthcare industry, the importance for intervention has never been more vital. The disciplined pursuit of design at the University of Southern California provided a great foundation to communicate with doctors who speak in a quantitative and qualitative language. It is here in the healthcare discipline I ardently believe design has the greatest impact. How did you get your start specializing in this field? How do you feel your undergraduate experience at USC helped to prepare you? While at USC, I explored the limitless opportunities and design offers for transforming space and the built environment. My initial exploration of the relationship between technology and design started while working on an immersive installation, Stoicheia, for the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA). Upon receiving my Bachelor of Architecture in 2015 I joined the healthcare studio at Smith Group in Los Angeles. My passion and perspective on the impact of the built environment on the health and wellbeing of future generations is rooted in my understanding of design established at the University of Southern California. USC fostered a curiosity and problem-solving skills through its rigorous program that have paved the way for my professional experience. What do you do now at SmithGroup? I have carried projects through the multiple phases -- from schematic design, construction documentation and onto construction administration. During my three years at SmithGroup, I have proved to be a key member on the multiple clinics for Cedars-Sinai Medical Delivery Network here in Los Angeles. This has afforded me a breadth of experience with its academic medical system, beginning with a comprehensive oncology center and multi-modality imaging and adjust urgent care, a renovation of a hematology oncology practice designed to USP 797 and USP 800 Standards, along with a renovation of an existing medical office and buildings to accommodate a growing gastrointestinal practice. This has instilled in me a strong understanding of building technologies that are driven by programmatic requirements. My direct award-winning project experience has spanned multiple clinical specialties and alternate delivery methods including integrated P3 delivery and design-build formats. I am committed to improving patient experience through the built environment and am an emerging young leader in the field of healthcare design. The experience I’ve gained at SmithGroup led to my being recognized in 2017 as a Herman Miller Scholar. Additionally, my contributions to the thought-leadership efforts in the firm include presenting at AIA events and conferences. I have extended my interest in helping to create a community of growth for future leaders by serving as a member of the AIA-AAH Next Gen Committee. What is your vision for a clinic of the future? My research in technology and healthcare underscores the significance of consideration by designers, now and even more in the future. Highlighting how technology companies focus on AI has made it clear that it is the next big disruption in healthcare. As traditional providers risk being outmaneuvered by new, more nimble tech players, the time is now to envisage a clinic of the future, considering a solution with the integration of AI and healthcare, as well as the implications of designing a clinic operated by AI, with little—or perhaps no—human interaction. Combining speculative future thinking with human-centered design, I am redefining how technology and physical space can merge to create an entirely new healthcare environment. I have also considered how patients will access care in the future, presuming that AI will play an integral part in their experience. Whether it’s a new approach to retail health designed to adapt to individual or market needs, or a comforting, casual wellness center for the healthcare avoider, or a new swarm-approach to a traditional clinic experience, my explorations on how to create the ideal patient-centered/technology-driven environment prove to be emblematic of the scenarios to consider today and in the future. What do you see in your own future? Where do you see your career heading? I see myself as a project architect leading design teams who are pushing the envelope for the next generation of healthcare design. I also see myself continuing as a thought leader contributing to future-focused delivery methods and design solutions. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of anticipating the future is accepting the notion that the healthcare industry might look drastically different within the next decade. With disruptors from industries traditionally considered to be unrelated to healthcare entering the market at increasing rates, the inevitable implications for customers and patients have yet to be determined. The challenge as designers will be in our ability to futurecast and anticipate a changing future. Will you be attending the Healthcare Design Conference in Phoenix this November? Definitely! I’ll be attending the conference November 10-13, where I’ll be recognized during the annual awards luncheon taking place Sunday, Nov 11.