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Office Space
Let’s face it: In this great big medical institution, few people are lucky enough to actually have a bona-fide office. Those who do, more often than not, are relegated to cramped, outmoded space. Some, though, take what they get and make it their own. Here are four workspaces that reflect their occupants.

Robert Getzenberg: Elegant, Like His Science

Who knew that just behind the 19th century façade of the quintessentially Victorian Marburg lurks a 21st century space with clean, bright finishes reflecting the natural light pouring in from windows overlooking the historic Broadway entrance?

Welcome to the office of Robert Getzenberg, director of urology research. A scientist who is developing new ways to diagnose prostate cancer, Getzenberg joined Hopkins last year after 11 years in Pittsburgh. “I had a dark office there,” he says. “I wanted something lighter and more modern here.”

He got that and then some.

The desktop is polished, stainless steel; the floor, gleaming white; the ceiling, shiny steel. Blonde wood surfaces carry out the sleek, contemporary theme, and an aquarium, transported from Pittsburgh, lends an other-worldly, calming effect.


Once the paper-filled province of Getzenberg’s predecessor and mentor, Don Coffey, the office has been totally transformed. “Robert wanted something clean, precise and well organized,” says interior designer Peg Walsh. “The office reflects his personality and the pristineness of science at the lab bench.”

In keeping with the Brady colors—aqua blue and bright red—Walsh, who has done Marburg from top to bottom, suggested an aqua wall covering behind the desk and resurrected Coffey’s two chairs, recovering them in red. The newly designed red desk chair has a woven back for comfort and flexibility. Even the desk lamp, made in Europe, has a bright red cord.

An adjoining space, once occupied by Coffey’s secretary, has been transformed into a mini-conference room, which opens onto the porch. With the weather turning warm, Getzenberg is already using it for meetings and interviews.

Hunter Champion: In His Element

OK, we know the topic of hunting can raise some eyebrows, but when we heard that a certain taxidermic office in Ross was occupied by none other than the aptly named Hunter Champion, we couldn’t resist.

We found Champion buried in his work in the classic lab office, cramped and lackluster. “I just took what they gave me,” he says. Then he brought in the things that made it feel more like home: a lifelike, ringed-neck pheasant (left), two colorful mallards (top and right), and a folk-art trout he’s holding. The architectural wonder on his bookshelf (top, left) is actually a hornet’s nest wrested from the Georgia woods. “It wasn’t easy to get,” says Champion, recalling how he first had to smoke out the hornets, “but it certainly wasn’t safe to leave around.”

Hunting game birds and fishing are in Champion’s blood. He’s a descendant of East Cherokee Indians and feels most comfortable when he’s close to nature. As a boy he learned to shoot and fish on his father’s game preserve straddling the Georgia/Florida line.

A physician-scientist who studies pulmonary vascular biology and how blood vessels in the lung interact with the heart, as well as how drugs like Viagra can help the heart, Champion, at 34, already has well over 100 papers to his credit. Having done all his training here, after undergrad and medical school in the south, he’s become a Hopkins history buff. On his wall (left) is the program from Osler’s last dinner in the United States, held on May 2, 1905, at the Waldorf Astoria.

David Yuh: Designer’s Challenges

When David Yuh moved into this office on Blalock 6 about three years ago, he knew exactly what he wanted: a contemporary, serene environment that would incorporate some of the things he remembered from his native California.

Yuh spent 25 years at Stanford, beginning as an undergrad, before joining Johns Hopkins five years ago. A heart surgeon, he has absolutely no design experience. “But I have a pretty good sense of styles that appeal to me. This is a very old facility, so I thought it would be a relief to have an environment that’s more contemporary.”

And so, venturing into the world of interior design entirely on his own, he aimed for a minimalist, clean look. The walls, previously a stark white, he painted blue. “It has a calming effect, and believe me, I need lots of calm,” says Yuh, whose days are a whirlwind of heart transplants and robotic cardiac surgery.

On the walls he hung a San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Mark Rothko poster (center). A photograph of a racing sailboat on San Francisco Bay was shot by Yuh himself from the stern of his own racing yacht, “Defiant.”

Then he came up with the idea of a glass desk (right). “I had so little room, I thought the transparency might give the illusion of more space.” He brought in the big flat-screen monitor to help his patients. “I wanted to show them their own coronary angiograms when they need bypass surgery. When they see the actual disease in their arteries, they become more engaged and confident in their treatment.”

Yuh says he’s enamored with contemporary design and art but can’t get away with it at home. There, the décor speaks strictly to his wife’s traditional tastes. “This is the only room she’d let me do,” says Yuh. “I spend so much time here, I wanted to get it just the way I like it.”

Julianne Bethea: A Collection to Live By

In her fifth floor, light-filled corner office in the Mason F. Lord Tower, one of Bayview’s oldest buildings, Julianne Bethea has surrounded herself with photos, prints, crafts and mementos of her travels, including one special trip to Africa.

Along with three Bayview physicians and a nurse, Bethea, a nurse practitioner, spent a month in 2000 treating patients in rural Akwatia, Ghana, on the west coast of Africa. “Going to the clinic was like going to a railroad station filled with people. We would get there in the morning and stay all day until all the patients had been seen.”

The wood hand-carving of a mother and child on the wall is a gift from a priest in Ghana. The wood carving Bethea is holding is a token of appreciation from one of her nurse practitioner students. The African mask was a gift from a patient.

As part of an internal medicine practice based at Bayview, Bethea sees patients with a variety of ailments, including HIV/AIDS and serious psychiatric disorders. Her days are not easy, but with her surroundings filled with keepsakes from family, friends, colleagues and students, she does not let her work consume her. “On a bad day, these things help me drift away. They help me reorient myself to why I’m here and why I like being here.”

—Anne Bennett Swingle



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