10Qs: Getting to Know the People Behind the Projects…Jennifer

posted November 14th, 2019 in Culture

by Jennifer Arbuckle


Jennifer Arbuckle, a Partner in the Vermont office, sits at her desk and smiles while looking at a design on her computer

“…healthcare facilities are fascinating examples of a microcosm of all human experience – good facility design starts with solid functional planning (based on human processes and efficiencies) and ideally ends with a beautiful building that optimizes the human experience for wellness, work, and community.”

Jennifer Arbuckle, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, is a Partner in the Vermont office.

1. Where did you grow up?
Born in Boston, grew up in southeastern Vermont. Great close-knit small-town experience – I have close friends that I’ve known since we were in pre-school together.

2. How did you get into design?
So there’s a story. In 6th grade science class, our teacher let the class vote on doing a unit on microbiology or one on architecture. I wanted to do microbiology but lost that vote, and was forced to do the unit on architecture. I designed a cathedral (most people did a house or a garage) and have never looked back. Nothing else interested me as a career choice…and I still have those drawings somewhere!

3. Who influenced you?
I can’t name one particular person – but have always read widely and been interested in learning stuff. I like to make things and have always enjoyed the research into finding out how to do it almost as much as the actual process of doing it. Long before the internet, there were books and libraries…the internet just makes that research process a little faster.

4. Why healthcare architecture?
For me as an architect and designer, I’ve always been interested in how the built environment can shape or form human interaction. I think that healthcare facilities are fascinating examples of a microcosm of all human experience – good facility design starts with solid functional planning (based on human processes and efficiencies) and ideally ends with a beautiful building that optimizes the human experience for wellness, work, and community.

5. What inspires you?
Shape, color, organic forms, landscape, texture. Spirited discussions. I don’t have a specific muse – but being surrounded by interesting creative thoughtful people working together keeps me inspired.

6. What advice can you give young designers?
Ask questions, be interested, do your homework, and show up. All by way of saying that if you never stop learning and you prepare to the best of your ability for every meeting or interaction, then you will do well. You may not always be right, but you will do well. My second piece of advice is to always solve the problem first. Don’t worry about who’s responsible for the problem (plenty of time for that later) – the immediate issue needs to be resolved, and then the rest of the process will sort itself out.

7. Most memorable projects?
I can’t pick favorites here but I will say that there is an incredible sense of pride and accomplishment when a project is completed, no matter what size it is. My most memorable projects are the ones where the team (owner, architect, and contractor) worked seamlessly together, not only are those projects generally more successful, but I always feel like they’re the best ones. If we can get through this incredibly complex and often difficult process together – and still be speaking to each other at the end, then that’s a win!

8. What is your favorite part of the design process?
I really don’t have a favorite part – I’ve always liked being involved throughout the whole design and construction process. If forced to pick one, I would say that I really enjoy the project scoping process at the beginning of the design – planning and programming, identifying the components that will go into this project, and working out their relationships.

9. Where do you see healthcare design in 5 years?
Predicting the future is always a chancy thing….but I would say that the influence of technology and use of data/metrics to drive and support healthcare design decision-making will continue. I also think that the ongoing advancements in research-driven healthcare solutions (particularly in chronic disease management) will drive innovation in the design solutions we will be required to develop.

10. How do you unplug?
I walk every morning when I’m home – staying connected to the outdoors is important to me (and taking advantage of being surrounded by the beautiful Vermont landscape). I’m also a knitter…I find the act of creating 3-Dimensional objects (on a slightly smaller scale than most of our buildings) to be relaxing and it’s a craft that can travel with me.

About Jennifer Arbuckle


Jennifer has nearly 30 years of architectural experience in all types of health facilities. She has guided many projects from initial master planning and programming through design and construction. She has worked on projects across New York State, Vermont, and Massachusetts ranging from Children’s Hospitals to Community Medical Centers. Her knowledge of the codes, rules, and regulations governing healthcare is extensive. In addition to her accomplishments in the field of architecture, Jennifer has further broadened the scope of her career in the areas of Staff Development and mentoring. Jennifer is dedicated to community service and also enjoys knitting, crafts, renovating her 150 year old schoolhouse, and gardening in her spare time.

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