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Sep 9, 2020

On Part 1 of today’s episode, Cheryl speaks with Lesa Lorusso,  PhD, MBA, Allied AIA, ASID, RID, NCIDQ, and Healthcare Director of Research and Innovation at Gresham Smith, on the firm’s new patent-pending empathic design technology. “The Empathic Design Tool” measures emotional responses of people reacting to the built environment. Lesa shares, “We have an innovation incubator within Gresham Smith we call “Studio X.” Mike Sewell, our Active Transportation Service Line Leader created The Empathic Design tool which recently won Architect Magazine’s 14th annual R&D award.” Learn more about how the “Empathic Design Tool” can measure emotional responses of people reacting in the built environment and how this is a potential game-changer in the world of empathic healthcare design research. 

For more information on Lesa Lorusso and Gresham Smith, visit

In Part 1 of Cheryl’s conversation today with Lesa Lorusso, they discuss:

  • How Gresham Smith responded to the pandemic and what it was like during those first few months of the crisis?
  • A patent-pending new research innovation tool, the “Empathic Design Tool,”  coming out of Gresham Smith that measures the emotional responses of people reacting to the built environment.
  • What new research is being used to comply with distance requirements?
  • How will Gresham Smith address social distancing in common spaces like waiting areas and will outdoor green spaces play a bigger role in social distances on hospital campuses, for example?
  • How are touchdown-spaces being affected within the healthcare space and how can touch can be reduced in general?
  • How can hospitals begin to rebuild trust with patients who are now staying away from hospitals and how can the design of the hospital assist with this?
  • The history of Gresham Smith’s dedication to research and how Lesa got connected to the firm and was hired on as its Healthcare Director of Research.

In Part 2 of Cheryl’s interview with Lesa Lorruso, Healthcare Director of Research and Innovation at Gresham Smith, they discuss Lesa’s research project “Investigating the Impact of Multisensory Environments on Behavior for Veterans with Dementia.” Lesa shares, “That research was a labor of the heart. I was fortunate at the University of Florida to be a part of an AIA sponsored research consortium called, ‘Vital By Design,’ with a focus on elder research.” Learn more about the synchronicities that led to Lesa’s work on the project and what fascinating research came out of it. Part 2 of the episode is available now.


Additional support for this podcast comes from our industry partners:

  • The American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers
  • The Nursing Institute for Healthcare Design

Learn more about how to become a Certified Healthcare Interior Designer®  by visiting the American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers at:

Connect to a community interested in supporting clinician involvement in design and construction of the built environment by visiting The Nursing Institute for Healthcare Design at


Thank you for listening to today’s episode of Healthcare Interior Design 2.0. If you enjoyed any part of Cheryl’s conversation today with Lesa Lorusso, please help our podcast grow by spreading the good word on social media and with your online community. Stay safe and be well. For the full roster of shows, visit


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