Lynn Befu describes herself as a homebody—which may help explain her willingness to spend her entire career so far in the comfort zone of the same firm and focused primarily on the same building type: healthcare facilities. “I think I was really lucky,” says Befu. In 1982, shortly after she graduated with an architecture degree from the University of California, Berkeley, she joined the then regional firm's small interior design department. Her good fortune, she says, stems from the fact that the firm grew and matured on a parallel track to her own development. “As I needed opportunity, the firm was able to offer me new things to do,” she explains.
Now Befu heads a department of 25 people working on healthcare and educational projects worldwide. Over the past two and a half decades, her responsibilities have evolved from choosing colors and finishes for a single obstetrical unit to overseeing the full scope of interiors for the 1.2-million-squarefoot Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, completed last year. At the same time, Befu has helped reshape the role of interior designers for healthcare environments, broadening the emphasis on creating environments in which patient comfort is a top priority. And for a designer who developed a sense of social responsibility as a student at Berkeley, this mission suits Befu just fine.