Charles Linn
School of Architecture & Design

Architecture lecturer receives lifetime achievement award

Tue, 11/18/2014

LAWRENCE — Department of Architecture Lecturer Frank Zilm has been awarded the American College of Healthcare Architects’ Lifetime Achievement Award for 2014. The ACHA’s Hamilton Medal is the highest honor it can bestow. It is conferred by the organization’s Board of Regents in recognition of a significant body of work of lasting influence on the theory and practice of healthcare architecture.

Zilm, FAIA, FACHA, began his KU career in 1976. Four years ago he and Professor of Architecture Kent Spreckelmeyer established the Architecture Department’s Health and Wellness Program. It specializes in health care design and planning. A key element of the curriculum is an architecture student internship program. Eighty KU architecture students have worked in 39 healthcare architecture firms since it began.

Zilm became the Department’s Chester Dean Lecturer in 2008 and was an adjunct professor between 1991 and 2006. He also directed the School of Architecture, Design & Planning graduate program in management from 1986 to 1991.

He led the development of a nationwide student health care design competition that more than 500 students have participated in to date. Recently, he was named Healthcare Design Magazine’s Educator of the Year.

Zilm has also used his own volunteer activities to impress upon students the importance of community service. In 2013 he and a KU student journeyed to Tenwek Hospital, a missionary medical facility located in Bomet, Kenya, to work. They spent a week providing architectural design services to the hospital. This was his second trip to volunteer at Tenwek, and he also worked as a volunteer in India.

Professionally, he has pioneered the use of analytics in health care programming and planning. A prolific lecturer and writer, his frequent talks and journal articles on the use of database development and computer simulation techniques for health care architectural design have been influential the world over. His consulting firm, Frank Zilm & Associates, has completed more than 300 health care design projects for health care providers throughout the U.S. 

Zilm is one of more than 400 certified health care architects in the United States and Canada. ACHA requires its certificate holders to work toward the improvement of health care architecture on behalf of the public and to practice in an ethical manner to maintain the highest standards in the specialized field of health care architecture. For more information on the American College of Healthcare Architects, please visit

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