“Women in Healthcare” Group

I am delighted to announce that I have become a member of the Steering Committee | Educational Programs for the “Women in Healthcare Group”. This group has been committed to the advancement of women in the healthcare field, advocating for their professional and personal growth, and empowering them to reach their full potential within their career development pathway.

This organization sets itself apart from others by having a national and local presence, and by offering not only the networking component, but by focusing on education and mentorship as well.

The role of women in any profession has been paved with a lot of stewardship for equal opportunities and recognition. We offer a platform where support and tools are available if and when needed. As well stated in the group’s website www.womeninhealthcare.org , “The purpose of our organization is to promote the professional development of females in the healthcare industry, to empower one another, support growth and mentorship, and support business through sharing successful techniques, leads, contacts, products and services.Our content is geared towards women in administration, operations and facilities and those who work with them. We provide content that furthers the individuals’ knowledge of industry related fields and trends, enhances professional development tools and gives a forum for personal growth”.

Among other well-accomplished female professionals, part of the board members representing important healthcare systems such as Mayo and Dignity Health, as well as other healthcare related organizations such as DLR Group, SmithGroup and Corgan, came together to launch (or incubate) the Phoenix Chapter this last year. Our steering committee met this last week at DLR Group, establishing the official date of our incubation period. This “incubation period”, which will last for a year, will serve to “test the waters” as to what can be strategized, organized and delivered by our group. My goal is to bring the latest information, education and career mentoring opportunities to those who are interested in obtaining or sharing expertise, experience or knowledge. The challenge I see is to provide an array of educational opportunities that will allow the cross-pollination of information among the different fronts of the healthcare industry. So, the challenge is here, I am excited to be at the frontier of this battle, and all I can say is: “Alea Iacta Est”…

Stars of the Season | Black Out Kids Cancer | Cardon Children’s Medical Center

| Stars of the Season | Black Out Kids Cancer Event | Cardon Children’s Medical Center |

I have tried to articulate in words my admiration for the American culture for a while. It just baffles me how efficiency and common sense can be experienced in every corner of this wonderful country, or every layer of society. The word capitalism used to mean evil when growing up. It was actually trendy to be anti-capitalist and sinequanon to be in favor of what we used to call “non-extremist socialism”. I remember my readings of Sartre and Simone – did I actually understand them? – and how I used to think of how I would change the world and turn it into a less materialist place… and, yes, … less chauvinist as well!
Today, the more I get to live in this country, the more I realize that only an efficiency-based political system can allow a larger amount of people to have access to different services and products. Simple democracy and also simple math: more efficient, less costly, more affordable, more people being benefited.
I happen to believe that things work well here because in all public levels, processes and systems are conducted as a business and, as such, should be self-sustainable and profitable in order to make it in the market out there.
Obviously, in order to run any business, there has to be people that will embrace its culture and mission, and that are also trained in how to provide what is requested from his/her role in a responsible and professional way. I use to say that the USA has this “unofficial” army, comprised of common citizens, that is so organized, so efficiency-oriented, so pragmatic, that it is almost impossible to believe that other countries will thrive without this kind of “soldiers” at the forefront of their battles. Things work here because behind an idea or project, there is a capillarity-based system, an intrinsic network of these “soldiers” that know how to plan, program, create, develop, maintain and improve in all aspects of society.
I am afraid to say that all this pompous preamble was to provide context for my admiration for the Stars of the Season committee as well. The whole group and meetings are so well organized, so synchronized, so efficient, that at the end of each event, we can tell that our “business” has reached its intent: capitalize ALL resources, in ALL instances, so ALL that could be done was actually done and, consequently, the children of Cardon Children’s Medical Center could receive the most of ALL: love and a chance in life.

The Creative Process: Never an Easy Road…

The creative process is never an easy road if you think of the myriad factors the designer has to consider when engaging in the design process. No wonder how sometimes we may find ourselves with what I call “Designer’s Syndrome”. It is that feeling one experiences when facing a blank page, the design possibilities are infinite, but the constraints are even broader. Just think about all the materials one can use, the combination of juxtaposition of volumes, the intersection of lines, the kaleidoscopic choices of colors and textures. All these factors have to be well-balanced not only within the context of a visual, functional and technical composition, but also the final product has to fit into the budget and clients’ expectations.

I remember my times of Architecture and Industrial Design School, and I certainly won’t forget the panicking times in the beginning of my career, when I would lose my sleep when approaching a deadline or presentation meeting. Neuroscience has allowed us to map our brains, tracking down our moods and even the path of our feelings, but I am still intrigued by how easy the creative process is for some people, while so difficult for others.

So, after all these years as an Architect, I have learned one thing: when the creative process starts, there is an internal mechanism that keeps doing the work for you. While you sleep, during a meeting, under the shower. Then one day, “serendipitly”, the combination of factors takes form, scale and depth. It is then that I take a step back, take a deep breath, and enjoy my creations. Somebody has to….

Baby Steps

Those who know what it takes to run a small business may relate to the struggles one goes through when it comes to maintaining a website. I started Iconic Architecture and Design in 2009. At that point I knew what kind of branding I wanted to accomplish. Besides the name, which was created as a tribute to the geniousity of some outstanding architectural work , I wanted a brand that would portray my ideas and work in a simple and concise way. Since then I have hired very talented website designers that seem to have very creative and talented ideas, yet little professionalism to deliver what they promise. Almost four years later, after hiring and being disappointed by several “professionals” in the field, I still find myself working on the goals I had before. The journey has been painful and the road bumpy. My eyes continue to focus on the future; “one day at a time”.

Branding Projects

| Logos and Stationary Samples | 2012 |

| Branding Projects |

As architects and designers, we are also skilled in developing distinctive and cohesive branding packages that will boldly set a business apart from its competitors by creating a whole spectrum of tangible and intangible features. These features include the use of graphics, messages and interplays to effectively define an organization within the marketplace.

Iconic had the opportunity to develop several of these branding products this last year. From logos to websites, we were challenged to create products that would fit our clients corporate identity needs. First we met with the clients to assess their needs and desires. Then we looked into other business associates and competitors branding efforts to create a baseline and benchmark results. We coordinated with graphic designers, copy editors, web designers and the clients of clients to bring to plate the most appropriate product. It stroke us surprising how one can find the different parts of an engine, but how necessary is somebody that will look into the big picture to know which parts to use, and how to put them together.

A Happy End!

| Pictures by Taube Photography | 2012 |

| Happy End |

This last year was full of challenges but that is exactly what drives architecture. The problem-solving factor. The relationship between cost, benefit and long-term effects. As our slogan praises: “Architecture and Design, Reverberating in Space and Time”.

We applied evidence-based design protocols in our projects and, by deep diving into a plethora of elements that should be accounted for in the design process such as form, function, sustainability, scientific rigor, cost, schedule, and the client’s branding inventory, we ensured that our design solutions were based on the most recent available credible research.

In the course of the year, we strove to be up-to-date in all aspects of the healthcare sector. Along with Orcutt Winslow Partnership and Dignity Health, we conducted a panel of discussion at the Healthcare Design 2012 Conference, Phoenix, November 3-6. At this point we discussed how the five working conditions categories (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) affect nursing performance and, therefore, fatigue. We brought up to the table the importance of caring for our caregivers, and how the wellness of nurses have a ripple effect in all levels of the healthcare delivery process, ultimately reaching a healthcare organization’s financial bottom line.

So, without resting on the laurels, we close the year with the certainty that we have made our part: responsible architecture, sustainable design, and a huge respect for the client. Thanks to you all and Happy New Year!

World’s First Vertical Fores…

World’s First Vertical Forest Under Construction in Milan | This Big City: http://t.co/b9KgK6Ae

Express Urgent Care at Estrella Health Center

I Express Urgent Care Site Visit Pics | by K. Shakman | August | 2012

| Express Urgent Care Site Visit | 2012

Who says that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line? We challenged this idea by proposing a floor plan that diverged from the cookie-cutter straight and “boxy” formula of traditional medical offices. In doing so, we allowed several features to “blossom” such as a better integration between nurses and lab area, one extra physician office and a space that welcomes the user instead of confusing him.

Several articles grounded in Evidence-based design principles proclaim a positive relationship between the built environment and a patient’s perception of quality of care. In another words, doctors have been judged or rated according to the environment in which they surround themselves. It makes sense. Who would hire a lawyer whose office has an interior design style from the sixties?

We are designing today for generations to come in the future. The iPod, iPad, iPhone and “iCan Choose” generation. That means that with the internet, patients have been empowered to choose and rate doctors and facilities with the click of  a mouse.

Designing with the new times in mind is a way to convey that the facility and staff are up to date with the latest technology, techniques and expertise. This should establish a good rapport with the “thumbs up or down” generation. Welcome to the future and good design, the real shortest distance between two points.

By Karen Shakman


ICONIC+ART Cover by K. Shakman | July | 2012


Iconic Architecture and Design (Karen Shakman) has launched an alliance with Architectural Resources Team (Patrick C. Rehse) with the goal of pursuing projects in Brazil. We have established solid relationships with developers and architectural offices, primarily in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Curitiba, and will be participating in bidding processes and selections interviews.
Thanks to a program through the Chamber of Commerce in Phoenix this last year, Patrick has visited several architectural offices in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, when he was able to foresee the tremendous opportunity to joint venture with these local organizations and provide architectural services and consultancy. We are excited to be the liaison between both countries.
Brazil has been considered one of the “BRIC” countries along with Russia, India and China. These countries are deemed to be at a similar stage of newly advanced economic development. The big challenge for the government of Brazil will be to fill in the gap between “nouveau rich” status and the “old poor” infra-structure at all levels. Not an easy task since the World Cup is here (2014) and the Olympic Games are just around the corner (2016).

Karen Shakman




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