HealthcareFace Time: Ryan Conover - HCD Magazine

Face Time: Ryan Conover – HCD Magazine

The associate at The Lighting Practice in Philadelphia shares some lessons on lighting design and how teaching impacts his firm work.

What do you like best about working in healthcare design?

I’m fascinated by how children experience healthcare environments, especially as a father of two little girls. As adults, many of us have developed an understanding of what to expect when we step into a hospital, but for children it can be more intimidating and scarier. Lighting design can make these moments soothing, comforting, and even fun, such as using color-changing lighting to create a positive distraction.

What challenges about your work keep you up at night?

Executing lighting details can make or break a design. For example, if we’re trying to light a wood ceiling, it’s important to understand the sheen of the wood, offset from the material, etc. to avoid unwanted reflections or glare. Lighting mock-ups are key because they can prove (or disprove) that our lighting design strategies will be successful.

You teach an online class at Kent State University. How does that impact your firm work?

Some of the students I teach are industry professionals, while others have had less exposure to lighting design. Teaching has been a good reminder about clarity and that lighting design is more than just light levels and picking pretty fixtures. A lighting design concept is important to a successful project and lighting fixtures are a tool to reinforce our design ideas (e.g. storytelling).

Three recent healthcare projects and your role

1 The Middleman Family Pavilion at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in King of Prussia, Pa., project manager/senior lighting designer

2 Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden, N.J.,  project manager/senior lighting designer

3 UC Health Medical Center in Cincinnati, main entry improvements, project manager/senior lighting designer

An unexpected item on your desk 


Astros bobblehead that I found in a pawn shop years ago. I’m a die-hard fan and everyone is always confused what a Houston baseball fan is doing in Philadelphia.

Outside the office, we’ll likely find you … 

Playing with my daughters, Claire and Annie.

Dog or cat? 

Dog. My dog Beasley is my best buddy. We go hiking all the time.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee! I need a lot to get going in the morning.

Fiction or nonfiction?

Nonfiction. My father is a carpenter and my grandfather was a mason, so I love books about construction and the building trades.

How did you make your first dollar?

I worked in a furniture repair shop. I can still smell the place.

Cocktail of choice?

Bloody Mary with the works.

Your hidden talent?

I’m pretty good at hiding how clumsy I am.

If you weren’t a lighting designer, you would be …

An electrician. I love the nuts and bolts of things.

You have an irrational fear of …

Food stuck in my teeth as I’m giving an important presentation.

Favorite …

Quote “There’s no second chance for a first impression.” I try to apply this to every aspect of my life.

Movie character Tough one, but I always enjoy Clark Griswold in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

Show to binge watch When it’s my choice, “Schitt’s Creek.” When my daughters choose, “Bluey.”

Weekend activity Hiking and exercising.

Color Blue.

Guilty pleasure Beef jerky.

Snack when you travel This is a weird one, but if I go camping I need to bring horseradish cheese and crackers. I thank my Dad for that one.

City to visit I studied abroad in Rome. I miss it so much!

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