Cuningham Group Architecture launches Healthcare studio with Lee Brennan

January 31, 2011 |

LOS ANGELES, CA––International design firm Cuningham Group Architecture, P.A. (Cuningham Group) has announced the arrival of Lee Brennan, AIA, as Principal and Leader of its new Healthcare studio. Brennan comes to Cuningham Group with over 30 years of professional experience, 22 of those years in healthcare, encompassing all aspects of project delivery, from strategic planning and programming through design and construction. The firm’s new Healthcare studio will enhance Cuningham Group’s expertise in leisure and entertainment, education, mixed-use/housing and workplace environments.

This pivotal point in his career coincides with a very transformative time for the entire healthcare industry, said Brennan.

“The combination of Baby Boomers impacting the system and the implementation of healthcare reform – no matter which political party is in control – results in tremendous pressure to reduce costs. Anticipating these trends, we will focus on an area architects tend to ignore: labor costs as opposed to capital costs. We will build labor efficiencies into the design. And we will use Cuningham Group’s master plan expertise to smartly and holistically integrate medical buildings with the project types in which the firm already excels, including housing, education and even entertainment, in the form of wellness centers and spas.”

Brennan’s efforts will focus on other cost-efficiency trends as well. For example, the firm will design facilities that improve at-home care by incorporating remote and mobile technologies. And it will streamline the delivery of healthcare centers via Lean construction processes including Integrated Project Delivery among the architect, the owner and the contractor.

Among his signature clients – and one with which he will continue to be involved at Cuningham Group – is the University of California San Diego. As a consultant he will assist the medical center facility’s leadership as it continues on its vision to transform from a community hospital to a leading Academic Medical Center.  His previous work includes the UCSD Jacobs Medical Center, East Campus Bed Tower in La Jolla, California, designed by Cannon Design.

“The innovations designed into this project include the potential for tracking of patients, material and equipment with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID),” said Brennan. “Essentially a sophisticated barcode system, this technology allows observation of the entire facility through a monitoring station, leading to vast improvements in patient safety, patient care, efficiency and cost reduction.”

Two of his other signature projects (planned at Cannon Design prior to joining Cuningham Group) are:

  • Kaiser Permanente, Orange County Medical Center, Anaheim, California: Built on a former brownfield site, revitalizing a light-industrial neighborhood and designed to connect its “healing garden” with improved Metrolink access.
  • Kaleida Health System, Global Vascular Institute, Buffalo, New York: Planning a translational medicine facility which includes healthcare on the lower floors and research on the upper floors.

Cuningham Group President/CEO Timothy Dufault, AIA, NCARB, LEED A.P, said that Brennan’s leading the new Healthcare studio is the logical evolution of the firm’s over four-decade-long commitment to building healthy, sustainable communities.

“We have always focused on bringing balance to people’s lives in a holistic sense,” said Dufault. “Lee’s background combines master planning with the design of specialty, acute and ambulatory centers. These seamlessly complement our portfolio composed of unique environments to live, work, play and grow – all the essential life values.”

Brennan’s work and writings have been published in Architectural Record, Design Journal, Inland Architect, Progressive Architecture, and Texas Architect, and he has played instrumental roles in projects that have received design awards from Progressive Architecture and the American Institute of Architects. He received his Bachelor degree in Environmental Design from Texas A&M University. His professional affiliations include: American Institute of Architects, Academy of Architecture for Health, Advisory Board of Westside Family Health Center, Lean Construction Institute (LCI), and Rice Building Institute – Research Partner.

About Cuningham Group

Cuningham Group transcends tradition with architecture, interior design, urban design and planning services for a diverse mix of client and project types. Our client-centered, collaborative approach incorporates trend-setting architecture and environmental responsiveness to create projects that weave seamlessly into the urban fabric. Founded in 1968, the firm is consistently recognized as a leader in a variety of markets and has grown to over 150 employees in offices in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Biloxi, Bakersfield, and Seoul. For more information, please visit

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