BWBR Names New President and CEO

BWBR is pleased to announce that Terri Ulrick, AIA, LEED® AP will be stepping into the role of President and CEO.

Terri is a 17-year veteran of the firm with over 22 years of experience, with a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies from University of Illinois at Chicago, and a Master of Architecture from University of Minnesota. A former in-house architect for the U.S. Army, Terri’s love for the technical side of design has led her to work on projects that push the boundaries of physics, engineering, bioengineering, healthcare, and medical device manufacturing. From clean rooms to laboratories, manufacturing spaces to hospitals, she is passionate about how spaces perform as well as how to facilitate the collaboration that leads to life-changing discoveries and innovations.

Licensed in Minnesota, California, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, Terri is a strategic, capable leader with a deep love for the firm and its people and a strong track record of both incredible client service and impactful staff development. She’s a trusted advisor who empowers those around her to do their best work while combining visionary thinking with empathy and kindness.

“I’m deeply honored and humbled to be this firm’s next CEO and President. BWBR is full of talented people who excel at what they do and inspire me to not only make BWBR a successful firm, but also a great place to work. My commitment is to continue to honor the great foundation that has been developed by the CEOs before me—to create great designs, to build on our equity work, and to make sure that we have fun along the way,” Terri says.

Stephanie McDaniel, AIA, LEED® AP, will remain with BWBR as a valued Principal, and the firm is grateful for her commitment and collaboration during her time in the role. Terri says, “I want to personally thank Stephanie for her contributions to BWBR. Her passion for this firm, the work we do, and our employees is inspiring, and a legacy I intend to carry forward.”

Congratulations, Terri!

From Our Kitchens to Yours: Winter Recipes from BWBR

For the 2023 BWBR Winter Card, some of our staff shared their favorite recipes for the cold weather, holidays, and gatherings with loved ones. The result is an amazing assortment of recipes, from main courses and appetizers to desserts and drinks, that we’re certainly looking forward to cooking up this season!

We asked those who submitted recipes to tell us what makes the dish meaningful to them. Read on to hear the stories, memories, and traditions they shared, then click to download all the recipes to help create unforgettable moments at your own tables this winter.


Isabel Fernandez shared her family’s signature Thanksgiving Sweet Potatoes, a holiday treat with a long-standing history. Isabel’s mom was born on a snowy Thanksgiving Day, making it her favorite holiday, and this dish is one she’s helped prepare since childhood. Now it’s been passed on to the next generation, with Isabel and other family members participating in the kitchen. “It’s simple enough for kids to help with,” she says. These sweet potatoes have some special twists, with pineapple slices and chili powder as the finishing touches. “The ingredients may sound strange, but they combine for a delicious dish that somehow only makes sense when the family is all together for the holiday season.”

Meanwhile, Maddie Smith’s recipe for Grandma Snookie’s Oyster Crackers goes back to her Great Grandmother Fernie, who served the crackers with soup and chowder at their family-owned supper club in Wisconsin. The recipe for the delicious snack once called for butter, but during the Great Depression, oil was substituted since butter was heavily rationed at the time. The recipe was passed along to Maddie’s grandma, who always had a bowl on her kitchen table available for snacking. “Making this recipe is always a reminder of her and the cozy little cottage on the river in Kiel, Wisconsin that she called home,” Maddie says.

Plenty of our other staff members’ recipes also have a well-established history as family traditions, like Megan Rollwitz’s Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins, which she brings to her sister’s house for Thanksgiving each year. “They remind me of family get-togethers and slow, calm winter mornings,” says Megan.


Of course, traditions must start somewhere, and some of our staff shared dishes that sparked new memories to carry forward for years to come. For Melanie Kiihn, cooking Autumn Vegetable Hash became a tradition in 2009 when she read the Bon Appétit Thanksgiving Issue that year. “Unemployed during the Great Recession, I was learning to cook and decided to make a really amazing Thanksgiving meal for my family from scratch with all new recipes,” she says. “We’ve made this pretty much every year since!”

Putting her own twist on a classic tradition, Allison Christoffels provided a recipe for cut-out cookies — each year, she and her family pick out a new cookie cutter to add to the collection as a fun spin on the annual event. “They remind me of my childhood, and I love making this new memory with my family now,” she says. “It’s a day filled with laughter, flour on every surface, creativity, and lots of cookies!”


Sometimes, recipes act as a signal that the winter season is finally upon us, like Rebekah Erler’s Squash Soup with Parmesan Croutons, which her husband has been making to kick off Minnesota’s cold weather for 15 years. Meanwhile, Devin Little’s Non-Vegetarian Venison Chili with Bacon signals the end of deer hunting season — the only time his family makes it, he says.

Our cocktail recipe comes from Peter Nagel, who serves his Spiced Cranberry Old Fashioned once winter is in full swing. “We love hosting friends and family in the winter for cocktails when there’s nothing else to do, and in Wisconsin that generally means old fashioneds,” Peter says.

As you cook, bake, and mix your way through our recipes, we hope they not only warm your kitchens but also fill your homes with the laughter and love that make the season so special. Cheers to a winter filled with gratitude, togetherness, and the joy of shared meals!

Financing Critical Access Hospitals: Navigating the Complexities

When it comes to Critical Access Hospital projects, two themes reign supreme: affordability and strategic thinking. Working on these projects means getting creative in figuring out how to fine-tune design for a community’s unique needs, maintaining the highest standards of planning and execution while balancing tight budgets. It’s not simply about creating a building — it’s about creating a space for high-quality, customized care.

In this episode, we delve into the unique challenges faced by Critical Access Hospitals, particularly in their quest for funding. Joining us for this conversation are Nick Smith, Principal at Wipfli, and Brad Krump, Healthcare Principal at BWBR. Together, they shed light on the nuances of financing major renovations or replacements for these rural healthcare institutions.

Nick has over two decades of experience helping Critical Access Hospitals plan and finance projects at Wipfli, a top 20 accounting, CPA, and consulting firm. One of his first projects as a healthcare consultant involved working alongside BWBR on a large replacement hospital planning project, beginning a longstanding partnership. Brad was born and raised in a small town in North Dakota and witnessed firsthand the importance of local community hospitals in rural areas. During his tenure at BWBR, he has relished the opportunity to work on several USDA-funded projects for Critical Access clients.
While Nick and Brad come at the challenge from different specialty areas, they share a common mission to facilitate access to care in underserved communities.


For many Critical Access facilities, the opportunity to take on a major project comes once in a lifetime, raising the stakes even further to provide strategic solutions that set a hospital up for success for generations to come. “Oftentimes, we’re shoehorned into an existing facility that could have been built 50 to 60 years ago for a different time and healthcare ecosystem. So, it’s really a chance to rethink that, but to do so practically and affordably,” says Nick.

These facilities must be designed to accommodate the evolving needs of a community. Who needs access? What type of care do they need? What services are most critical? Who will be working there? What environmental considerations need to be taken into account? This is not a one-size-fits-all operation so it’s essential to understand and keep pace with the overall critical care landscape and the community context for each project.


All this specification comes at a price. Drawing from 27 years at BWBR, Brad underscores the challenge of escalating construction costs. “Five years ago, construction costs for replacement facilities were in the $300 to $400 per square foot range in the Upper Midwest region. In today’s world, we’re pushing $600+,” explains Brad. And doubled budgets can’t mean a halfway effort.

Fortunately, there are various funding avenues available for Critical Access Hospitals, including USDA loans, HUD financing, traditional financing, grants, and philanthropy. The USDA has been a significant funding source for BWBR clients’ hospital replacement financing, with 10 projects completed and another four in process. “The USDA Community Facilities Program offers direct loans, loan guarantees, and grants tailored for rural facilities,” Nick elaborates, emphasizing the program’s favorable financing terms. However, he also notes the detailed application process and strict qualifications required for USDA funding. The process can be long, so it’s important to…


“Integration of financial planning with the design process is crucial,” Brad says. Financial feasibility must be aligned with strategic planning and facility design. That’s particularly important due to the high project costs and the laborious, often extended financing process.

Nick adds, “Starting consultations early in the planning phase is pivotal. It ensures that hospitals build what they need, within budget, without compromising quality or community needs.” That’s why Nick and Wipfli are likely to get involved very early on to meet with stakeholders and make sure that goals, needs, and budgets are clear. This period can span multiple years, from the first conversation to the start of construction, but meticulous planning is critical to making sure the outcome pays off.

Nick and Brad know that the costs of completing and operating a hospital go far beyond facility design and construction. Technology is an increasing portion of expenditures, and while that has the potential for transformative healthcare impact, it can be a tough bill to pay. Nick’s work is deeply embedded in these types of conversations. “When thinking about renovating or rebuilding a hospital, let’s look beyond what we’re doing today,” he says. “Could we be performing surgeries we’re not doing now because of facility constraints?” Ten years ago, he never would have thought that community hospital ORs would be a setting for robotics, or MRI machines within the imaging suite, but that’s where things are going.


While the financial realities of a project of this type are significant, so is the potential upside for the community. That’s why funding for Critical Access Hospitals often involves seeking support from the community, explains Nick. Sometimes, that means a tax levy or property tax adjustment. But other times, the tax base isn’t large enough or there are other barriers. In those cases, options might include partnerships with larger health systems or putting the project temporarily on hold in order to strengthen the hospital’s financial position.

There are a lot of stars that need to align properly to make projects like these happen. The intricacies of designing and financing Critical Access Hospitals demand meticulous planning, strategic alignment, and proactive engagement with financial advisors and design specialists. There are many hurdles and steps — but when the outcome is healthier communities with better access to high-quality care, the effort is more than worth it.

Creating Conference Rooms for the Hybrid Era

Conference rooms have long served as critical locations for teams and clients to collaborate, communicate, and create. While the function of these rooms has mostly remained the same over time, meeting areas meant for today’s workforce look very different from those designed even just a few years ago. Hybrid work environments are the new normal, with 77% of Fortune 100 companies offering flexible arrangements for staff according to Work Design Magazine.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution in designing conference rooms, there are things that every organization should consider when planning spaces to make sure that meetings are equitable, engaging, and comfortable for all employees, whether at home or in the office.


Selecting the right tech is a critical first step to bridge the gap between online and in-person meeting participants, with layout, furniture, and lighting determined based on the types of technology used and their placement. Great lighting is essential in rooms used for hybrid calls, and the location of cameras should determine where to place supplemental lights to clearly illuminate speakers. Camera placement also influences the flow of a space, requiring strategic planning of entry points to avoid obstructions when staff must enter a meeting late or exit early. Meanwhile, needs such as multiple display screens will impact furniture arrangement and space requirements, necessitating additional wall space and a layout that allows monitors to be viewed by everyone in the room.

Because of this, considerations surrounding needs for cameras, displays, and speakers should be at the top of the priority list for an organization when diving into a project. Functional, user-friendly technology makes it simple for everyone to see and hear and be seen and heard, while technology that fails to do so creates a frustrating, ineffective user experience.


Furniture has a major impact on how participants experience a conference room — and not only for those using the furniture, but for those calling in remotely, too. Some furniture may not perform well in a hybrid space, resulting in staff seated outside of a camera’s viewing range, while mobile furniture positioned incorrectly can obstruct views of the display.

Traditional round or rectangular conference tables, which allow practical use for both meetings with and without a hybrid component, remain a viable (but not the only!) option. An arc-shaped table allowing all participants to face the display and camera head-on, ideal for hybrid collaboration, is a great alternative. Lounge-style conference rooms utilizing sofas, lounge chairs, and adjustable tables to create a comfortable environment provide a more casual feel. While each of these styles can function well within any organization, it’s all about what best suits the culture and collaboration styles of a company. It’s important to note that some furniture, like fixed bar-height tables, is not accessible for staff who use wheelchairs or other mobility aids, so including standard-height surfaces is essential for designing equitable, accessible meeting spaces.


Many companies have a need for spaces where meetings can become sessions for creative brainstorming and dynamic planning. While the traditional idea of a conference room doesn’t typically support the versatile needs of teams, the right design can. Magnetic surfaces, mobile furniture, additional cameras, and digital tools can all aid in making spaces work for both conferencing and creating.

A variety of whiteboards, mobile or wall-mounted, can be utilized within rooms to allow innovation to occur in real-time. Designers can even strategically plan for additional cameras focused on creative areas, keeping remote participants engaged. For organizations that rely on hybrid collaboration, software like virtual workspaces — like Miro or ClickUp — can replace analog tools or be used in addition to them. This software allows teams to work simultaneously in a digital space, and interactive smart displays can provide the balance between traditional and virtual tools. Mobile furniture is another way rooms can morph, giving the ability to break out into groups and move around — though, it’s important to be mindful that some technology performs better than others in non-fixed settings, like cordless microphones and smart cameras with auto-focus capabilities.

While not all organizations need every conference space to have flexible functions, it’s beneficial to understand the options and think about the needs of teams. That way, a mix of spaces to meet the dynamic needs of staff can be designed, from traditional conferencing to creative workshops.


Conference rooms can vary from two-person huddle rooms to large group rooms that can accommodate over 30 employees, and anything in between. Recently, a trend toward extra spacious conference rooms has emerged, providing enough area for ease of movement behind chairs while creating a more equitable and accessible place to work for staff who use mobility aids.

Considering the number of staff, average meeting sizes, and typical functions can help determine the variety of rooms to best support a company’s needs. While too many underutilized or oversized meeting spaces take away valuable square footage, too few can cause a frustrating experience for employees planning meetings with clients and colleagues. Some organizations track meeting space utilization to periodically make adjustments to underused conference rooms, as inconvenient technology, lack of privacy, or poorly performing furniture can impact whether a space is frequently reserved for meetings. This allows rooms to adapt and evolve over time, making sure that companies continue to get the most out of a design. With an understanding of how an organization collaborates, our designers find the right balance between maximizing space and maintaining comfort.

In the hybrid workplace, meeting spaces are no longer just rooms — they’re hubs of connectivity where ideas collide and innovation sparks. When organizations think deeply about what features make their staff and culture unique, the result is spaces that seamlessly blend the remote and in-person experience.