Edward Hengtgen remembers a time when he had to stop a couple of contractors who were working at his hospital. They were making a lot of noise, which is common enough—but Hengtgen, assistant vice president of facilities operations and planning and design and construction at UHealth-Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, knew they needed to take a minute to think about where they were.
“These guys were just going at it, and so I asked them to stop for a second,” Hengtgen remembers. “They stopped, and you could hear a patient in pain; you could listen to people that needed something, and I reminded them that you have to be constantly conscious of what is happening in our hospital. This isn’t a Wendy’s or a strip mall. We have patients and stressed-out families, or staff working on the front lines. Whatever we do, we do to support those people.”
Hengtgen is an architect who has never stopped practicing despite a change in title. He still redlines the drawings for any big project on behalf of his organization. He may be managing a department of 40 people, but he’s still focused on the day-to-day details of design.
He’s been told, in fact, that no one else on his side of the construction business asks such difficult questions or examines details with as much intensity as he does. This doesn’t bother him, though.
Hengtgen has a personal as well as a professional connection to the University of Miami’s hospital system. In 2020, his wife and longtime partner Deb passed away after a lengthy battle with lung cancer. An active runner, Deb worked as a specialty pharmacist, consulting with cancer patients to make sure that they were getting the right kinds of treatment. When faced with her own battle, Hengtgen says, his wife reacted with the same dignity and grace that defined her life.
“It sort of breaks my heart now, but the day before she passed away, I thought we would be going home the next day,” Hengtgen remembers. “She was always so positive and never bemoaned her situation.”
Throughout the entire experience, Hengtgen was able to keep his wife at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, where she would receive the best care. Because he’s worked for the university since 2010, Hengtgen saw a lot of familiar faces of people he’d met while working on various projects. He might have sought their advice on a design or solicited their input to figure out what would work best for the physicians.
After Deb passed away, Hengtgen returned to the hospital months later to personally thank all those who had taken part in her care. “I saw the excellent care that they provided,” Hengtgen remembers. “That’s what gives me the mission to make sure family members like myself and those caregivers have the best possible experience within our health system.”
At present, the university is in a building boom. Hengtgen is currently overseeing seven major projects, plus additional work that was delayed by the pandemic. And then, of course, there’s the work that Hengtgen’s team oversaw during the pandemic.
“During COVID, everything got put on hold because we were too busy building treatment wings, testing and vaccination clinics, research labs, and modifying our patient rooms to be completely isolated,” Hengtgen explains. “While a lot of our organization moved home to work, my team was onsite every day.”
The construction of the Transformational Cancer Research Building is just one of the projects on Hengtgen’s plate at present, and its scope is impressive. The 12-story, 244,000-square-foot facility will be located at the University of Miami’s downtown campus. Its multimillion-dollar cutting-edge equipment and laboratories will serve as a hub for the latest in cancer treatment breakthroughs and innovation. Its opening is slated for 2024.
There is also the University of Miami’s UHealth at SoLé Mia, a 7-story, 363,000-square-foot medical center that is slated to be completed in 2025. It will be the largest ambulatory care center in North Miami-Dade and South Broward counties.
With so much going on, Hengtgen jokes that he’s too busy to even think about retiring. He may be well into his career, but he still has plenty to do. “The rearview mirror is small, and the windshield is so large,” he explains. “We have such a short time on this earth. I want to feel good about what I’m doing while I’m here.”
Delta G Consulting Engineers, Inc. is a full-service consulting engineering firm dedicated to providing our clients with the highest quality electrical, HVAC, plumbing, and fire protection engineering services at a competitive cost. Clients trust us to conduct research, present options, and deliver thorough, accurate, timely construction documents, reports, and analysis. We look forward to the continued relationship with Edward Hengtgen and University of Miami.