HKS’ Candace Goodman is Driven by the Healing Power of Design

As she prepared to graduate in 2002 from architecture school at Texas A&M University, Candace Goodman knew where she wanted to work. She had participated as a student in the final design charrette for a major hospital project, a charrette attended by Ralph Hawkins, then Chairman, President and CEO of HKS.

“This is a great firm,” she thought.

But then, the graduating senior made a freshman mistake.

“I did the thing that people tell you you’re not supposed to do,” Goodman said. “I took my very first offer for an architecture job. I did end up getting a call from HKS, but I had already taken the other offer.”

Three years later, though, Goodman finally got the opportunity to follow her dream. She applied to HKS and was hired into the Education sector, where she spent a year before transferring into the Health practice, where she is now a Senior Project Architect.

But there’s more. Her strong work ethic and passion led to Goodman being named a Principal at HKS in January, one of four African Americans at the firm to hold that rank. Her promotion was announced four days before the start of Black History Month.

Goodman said that the news she’d been named a Principal, which saw her jumping up and down in celebration with her teammates, brought another colleague to tears of joy.

“That means a lot, to have the meaning appreciated beyond your immediate self,” Goodman said.

Other leaders at HKS definitely appreciate Goodman and hold her in high esteem.

“When she first came here, she was fairly quiet,” said Jeffrey Stouffer, Principal and Global Sector Director of HKS’ Community sector. “She’s totally found her voice.”

Stouffer also praised Goodman’s communication, research and business development acumen.

“She’s excellent at crafting a building and creating the documents to build the building,” he said. “And she just brings joy to her team and the firm. She has a true servant heart and very strong leadership skills.”

“She just brings joy to her team and the firm. She has a true servant heart and very strong leadership skills.”

Jeffrey Stouffer, Principal and Global Sector Director, Community

Early Influencers

Goodman grew up in San Antonio, alongside her twin sister and older brother.  She also has an older sister and large extended family.

Her father, who embarked on a career in real estate after retiring from the Air Force, often brought his twin daughters to open houses, showings and construction sites. The twins also accompanied their mother at times to her job as an educator and Head Start administrator.

Goodman said that being involved in her parents’ work lives and witnessing their strong work ethic fueled her drive to succeed, and her early exposure to the architecture world helped plant the seeds for her future career.

Goodman attended a small Baptist elementary school, followed by an all-girls Catholic high school where a high school math teacher provided “one of the first touchpoints I had with building structures,” Goodman said. As a class project, she and a friend built a model bridge that beat out the other students’ bridges by holding the most weight.

Goodman said that while she had enjoyed taking art classes, learning that she also liked the technical aspects of design was eye-opening and furthered her interest in architecture.

When it came time for college, she debated between Texas Tech and Texas A&M universities, ultimately choosing to follow her older brother to Texas A&M. “Once I toured the campus, I really fell in love with it and the architecture program,” she said.

In her third year at Texas A&M, Goodman had the opportunity to participate in the studio of renowned architecture professor George Mann, founder of the university’s groundbreaking Architecture for Health Program. Students in the studio were tasked with designing a hospital bed tower for the Scott and White Health system (now known as Baylor Scott & White).

“That was my first touchpoint for learning about health care and starting to develop a passion for what it meant to use architecture for good – realizing buildings are healing,” Goodman said. “I love the built environment anyway but knowing it could help facilitate healing was just a huge plus.”

A Force for Good

Goodman was happy to have a chance to apply herself to health design, working on projects like John Dempsey Hospital at University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, Connecticut, Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital, Baton Rouge, and most recently Children’s Medical Center, Plano & Dallas locations, with HKS leaders and teammates who helped her develop as an architect.

HKS Principal Emeritus Anita Linney-Isaacson remembers Goodman’s desire to learn and gain well-rounded experience. “I put her in spots that would make her grow…and she always handled it really beautifully,” said Linney-Isaacson .

About 10 years into her tenure at HKS, Goodman had the opportunity to work with retired HKS architects Noel Barrick and Doug Compton on an expansion to Reba’s Ranch House, a home-away-from-home for families of patients being treated in hospitals located in Southeastern Oklahoma and Northeast Texas. Goodman said she appreciated the pro bono design project for allowing her to take on new responsibilities and listen to and learn from two veteran architects.

According to Goodman, HKS’ dedication to public interest design was one of the qualities that attracted her to the firm.

“It is so important that we give back to the community in areas that may not be able to pay for the high-profile architect or big firm,” she said. “I think our profession is for everyone, not just for those who can afford it.”

Linney-Isaacson is a member of the Citizen HKS Steering Committee, which oversees the firm’s public interest design work. She recommended Goodman for a seat on the committee – a role Goodman has now assumed.

“Candace is a truly genuine person who is humble, loaded with compassion and really has the talent to make the world a better place,” Linney-Isaacson said.

In her personal life, Goodman is involved in efforts to care for victims of human trafficking in the Philippines, to build homes and water filtration systems in Honduras and to mentor students in her home church in Dallas.

“I did not plan to mentor a bunch of students,” Goodman said with a laugh. She explained that a friend at church who was teaching Sunday School to the third through fifth graders said he needed somebody to fill in just for one week.

“So, I filled in for one week with this group of third-grade girls,” Goodman said, “and I stayed with them until they graduated” from high school. Goodman has maintained contact with several of those young women, who are now in their senior year of college.

“I think a lot of the skills that I have from church have actually helped me in architecture,” Goodman said. “A lot of times people just want you to listen to them and empathize and sympathize with where they’re coming from.”

Blazing a Trail

Goodman recognizes that her recent promotion to Principal holds significance beyond her individual professional development, given that Black and African American professionals are underrepresented in architecture. According to data reported by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, people who identify as Black or African American make up 13.6 percent of the U.S. population and comprise 7.5 percent of the nation’s architecture and engineering occupations.

She noted that she has had to learn to be unafraid to speak up when she’s the only woman or person of color in meetings with clients and contractors. It’s a position that she’s been in many times throughout her life.

“We didn’t learn, ever, about Black architects, even in college,” Goodman said. “And I definitely didn’t have contacts or anything like that for going to school – any professors or many classmates who looked like me.”

She said it is a heavy responsibility as well as a great joy to help forge a path for other Black architects.

It is a heavy responsibility as well as a great joy to help forge a path for other Black architects.

She’s also happy to serve as a role model for her nieces and nephews. Goodman said her twin sister’s 8- and 9-year-old children, who live nearby in Flower Mound, Texas, are especially interested in what she does for a living.

“They like where I work and what I do. They know I’m working on a new children’s hospital, and they’re excited to go in it,” she said.

As she reflected back on ideals that helped shape her career, Goodman recounted some thoughts that Ghanaian-British architect Sir David Adjaye has shared about the transformative power of design.

Adjaye said that at the beginning of a project the design is, “this small and you’re this big, in terms of what it is” and the design concept is just a “series of electrons going off in your head. So, it’s not even measurable, but it’s an idea.”  But once a project is built, “it becomes this big, and you’re this small, in it. And so there’s this kind of magical shifting…and the electricity and the power of that is addictive.”

“I just love that description,” Goodman said. “It gives me chills. “What we draw on paper…will eventually become so big that we can walk into it and experience. To me, that’s the core of architecture.”