Maria Sanchez is an interior designer in Gresham Smith’s Healthcare market. She joined the firm’s Miami office in 2018 and has since worked on a variety of healthcare projects for clients including HCA, Baptist Health, Encompass Health, and the University of Miami. Maria was named an associate at Gresham Smith in 2023.

Always a lover of interior design, Maria discovered a complementary passion for sustainability when she was an undergraduate at the University of Florida. Guided by her belief that great design should also have a positive impact on the world around her, she pursued courses that focused on all aspects of sustainable design and LEED, and eventually minored in sustainability.

Today, Maria is an enthusiastic advocate of sustainable design and serves as a LEED resource for colleagues across the firm. She’s a member of Gresham Smith’s Healthcare Design Drivers committee, which ensures the market’s projects are approached meaningfully and measurably across categories including sustainability, human experience, technology and more, while aligning with Gresham Smith’s brand promise of Genuine Ingenuity. She was also appointed LEED project administrator for both the Jackson Health Freestanding Emergency Department and the Dominion Energy Technical Support Building projects. “I’ve always felt that it’s our responsibility to not just build beautiful environments, but also environments that help people live better,” says Maria.

I’ve always felt that it’s our responsibility to not just build beautiful environments, but also environments that help people live better. Maria Sanchez Interior Designer, Gresham Smith

As part of her passion for sustainable design, Maria represented Gresham Smith in the 2021 Greenbuild International Conference. There, she learned about the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Material Pledge and felt inspired to help Gresham Smith shift its approach to how it was selecting project materials. Maria focused on encouraging the firm’s leadership to support the reduction of embodied carbon and target eliminating red-list chemicals in specifications by 2030. She ultimately developed a Sustainability ad hoc group focused on healthy, sustainable material selection. Maria’s work garnered her recognition as the “Sustainability Leadership Award” winner at Gresham Smith’s annual Celebration event.

That same year, already familiar with LEED’s criteria of measuring a building’s environmental performance, Maria noticed something was missing: a standardized method to measure a project’s resiliency. Armed with an idea, she researched how designers could not just plan for, but also quantify and track, resiliency in the built environment. She was empowered to turn to Gresham Smith’s innovation incubator, Studio-X, to start the development of a resiliency scorecard.

Maria represented Gresham Smith at the 2021 Greenbuild International Conference.

Having grown up in Florida, Maria had firsthand knowledge of how important it was to design communities in a way that would help them mitigate the impacts of extreme weather. “We’ve always had hurricanes, but recently, storms have become stronger and more frequent,” says Maria. “In 2021, there was a winter storm in Texas where people didn’t have access to fresh water and other utilities. I thought, ‘Wow, it’s not just Florida—there are a lot of states going through this.’ It happened again in April of 2023 right here in Fort Lauderdale when we had a 1,000-year flood. It’s probably the worst natural disaster I’ve experienced. So, how can we build redundancies and establish methods for communities to not be as vulnerable in the future? There’s a sense of urgency.”

The resiliency scorecard she developed with the help of Sustainability and Resiliency Program Manager Lauren Seydewitz uses five criteria to measure resiliency and is now being tested on eight Gresham Smith projects. Maria also hosts workshops on its use cases, inspiring others at the firm to plan for resiliency in their project designs and using it as a chance to finesse the scorecard based on feedback from her colleagues.

“Her ability to engage with others to both inform and inspire action is really a testament to her leadership,” says Lauren. “Maria is the first to raise her hand to take on new technical challenges. She’s always curious, explores new approaches, and pulls from her network and resources to contribute a fresh perspective.”

Maria incorporates natural views, hospitality inspired finishes and inviting furniture into her hospital designs.
Maria’s approach creates welcoming, aesthetically appealing environments that are sustainable and connect to clients’ brands.

Outside of the firm, Maria is also a leader within the industry. Since 2018, she has been part of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) of South Florida, serving as a past board member and holding positions including director of technology, director of signature events and vice president of events. A highlight of her time with IIDA was organizing the BRAGG Awards, a black-tie event which celebrates design excellence in the South Florida community.

Maria’s passion for bringing others together also extends to her own Miami office, where she is a member of the affectionately dubbed “Fiesta Fam.” The employee-led group plans social and philanthropic events for local employees, including beach days, volunteer events and their yearly holiday parties.

“I don’t know many firms that allow you to carry out your passions in the way that Gresham Smith has empowered me to,” says Maria. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to advance our knowledge of sustainability and resiliency strategies to ultimately create healthier, more responsible designs as well as use the insights we gain from the development of new tools and technology to benefit not only the firm, but the AEC industry as a whole.”

I don’t know many firms that allow you to carry out your passions in the way that Gresham Smith has empowered me to. Maria Sanchez Interior Designer, Gresham Smith

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