SOURCE: SmithGroup

March 20, 2007 13:30 ET

SmithGroup's San Francisco Office Strengthens Healthcare/Senior Living Interior Architecture Team

Joyce Polhamus Promoted to Vice President; Respected Interior Architect Diana Kissil Joins Studio

Positioning to Serve the Healthcare and Living Needs of Aging Babyboomers

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- March 20, 2007 -- SmithGroup (, the seventh largest architecture and engineering firm in the U.S. and one of the largest designers of healthcare and assisted living facilities, announced it has promoted Joyce K. Polhamus, AIA, to vice president of its growing healthcare/senior living interior architecture and design studios here. In addition, the firm announced it has hired respected interior architect, Diana Kissil, AIA, who has created indoor spaces for major local projects such as the Packard Children's Hospitals in Palo Alto and in Oakland, as director of interior architecture.

"We're delighted to have talented architects and project managers like Joyce Polhamus and Diana Kissil who are noted for their bold, yet well-integrated, functional and efficient work in interior architecture," says Jim Hannon, president of SmithGroup California. "They are part of a studio team with extensive experience and a deep skill set that produces innovative interiors for healthcare and assisted living facilities in California and across the country."

The promotion of Polhamus, who has extensive experience in interior architectural design of assisted living facilities, and the hiring of Kissil, who was formerly director of interior architecture for Sasaki Associates in San Francisco, strengthens the firm's ability to position itself to take on growing demand for high end healthcare and senior assisted living projects.

According to the American Health Care Association, there were approximately 37 million people over the age of 65 in the United States in 2004, representing about 12% of the overall population. That number increased to approximately 64 million in 2005, representing more than 18% of the population. In California, the total population of people over 65 years old was just under 4 million in 2004, representing 10.5% of the overall population. The next year, that number increased to more than 7 million and represented about 16.4% of the overall population in California.

"Because people are living longer and thriving as they age, these sectors will require much more insight and innovation to accommodate their needs than ever before and our team is well-positioned to make that happen," says Polhamus. "Our studio provides the best value for clients in these sectors because we internalize our clients' interests and issues and we make sure we understand their goals and align ourselves with them. The goals of our studio team are to create design experiences that are both exciting to our clients and which advance the healthcare and senior living industries."

SmithGroup's healthcare/senior living architecture and planning team has grown to 15 professionals under Polhamus' leadership. The studio design team's philosophy is to blend state-of-the-art interiors, which inspire confidence, with warmth and comfort that addresses the psychological and emotional needs of families, and in the case of assisted living, older individuals.

Conveying Self-Control

"With assisted living, it's important that the interior architecture convey a sense of self-control to residents," says Kissil. "Studies show that even the perceived loss of self-control can accelerate decline in an older person."

Kissil, who has created award-winning interiors for numerous Bay Area healthcare and assisted living spaces, including the recent design of 60,000 square feet of interior space for the John Muir/Mount Diablo Medical Center in Brentwood, California, values continuity with clients. She worked directly with Lucile Packard on the original design for Children's Hospital. Following Mrs. Packard's death in 1987, Kissil continued to consult with the hospital to update standards and provide design continuity for another 15 years.

"It's personally gratifying to me to have been an important part of the institutional memory of the hospital, carrying Mrs. Packard's thoughts and goals through that process."

Kissil is a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Architecture and Design and studied Urban Development at Wayne State University.

Polhamus' distinguished career includes stints in Japan where she worked on major hospital and nursing facilities in Hadano and Tokyo, as well as a major hospital facility in Oahu, Hawaii. She has designed or project managed nearly 40 interior projects for SmithGroup, from the 88,000-square Byron Park II assisted living residence in Walnut creek to pre-design service for the Public Health Service Hospital Complex site in San Francisco's Presidio -- a major 3.5 acre senior community that will be integrated into the National Park environment of the Presidio.

Currently, she is leading interior design of the Kaiser Los Angeles Medical Center, a medical facility that will provide comprehensive acute inpatient care, including the nation's most advanced tertiary care and other intensive services.

Polhamus received a Bachelor of Arts degree in architecture from the University of California at Berkeley and a degree from the Advanced Management Institute in San Francisco.

About SmithGroup

Founded in 1853 and based in Detroit, Michigan, SmithGroup ( has more than 150 years of experience and expertise in providing exceptional architecture, engineering, planning, and urban design. With more than 850 staff members in nine offices nationwide, the firm integrates project design and process into seamless solutions for clients. World Architecture ranked SmithGroup the tenth largest in the world for providing multidisciplinary design services. SmithGroup is oldest architecture and engineering firm in the United States.

About the San Francisco Office

SmithGroup's San Francisco office specializes in the design and creation of fully integrated office, medical, lifescience, healthcare and assisted living facilities. The office's 157 employees work in 4 studios including Healthcare Interiors; Senior Living; Research and Learning; and Workplace Interior Architecture. Facilities completed by the office are diverse and range from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Molecular Foundry in Berkeley, to the Motion Picture & Television Fund, Fran & Ray Stark Assisted Living Villa in Woodland Hills, California.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Curt Olsen
    CFO Communications
    415.621.4200 office
    415.283.8017 mobile
    Email Contact