DesignGroup Managing Principal Elliott Bonnie Retires

It’s hard to imagine DesignGroup without Elliott in the building. He leaves in his wake a legacy of groundbreaking healthcare projects, long-lasting partnerships, and a meaningful influence on the way we approach work and life. 


Every new year brings change. Some years that change is more personal than others. As we begin 2023, we extend gratitude and a fond farewell to DesignGroup Managing Principal Elliott Bonnie, who formally retired December 31. Elliott joined DesignGroup in 1990 and in his 32 years with the firm, it’s hard to state how important his contributions have been – as a designer, leader, and friend. 

It wouldn’t be a stretch to call Elliott a renaissance man. Or, at least, a man of many interests. Growing up, Elliott loved to build things. He also enjoyed math and physics, and in high school developed skills in drawing and sculpture. Architecture was a natural fit – but it wasn’t a foregone conclusion. His parents were in the saddle horse industry, and he could ride at a very early age. Elliott was active in 4-H in grade school, and went on to show horses in major shows throughout the midwest. He was even a skilled jumper and played on his school’s varsity polo team.

Elliott Bonnie and Chris Haedt
Elliott collaborating with Healthcare Columbus Practice Leader and Designer, Chris Haedt


But architecture was his true calling, and he credits early mentors and current peers alike for informing and inspiring his career. As our Healthcare Studio Leader, he oversaw design and planning of countless projects in pursuit of one of DesignGroup’s core values: empowering healthy communities. His work received wide recognition and awards from clients and peers alike.

He’s most proud of his work on The Ohio State University Ross Heart Hospital, which in many ways summed up what defines DesignGroup work at its best: A talented DG team collaborating with skilled partners and an engaged client on a challenging, ground-breaking program. “It was a brand-new, free-standing hospital, right in the center of their healthcare campus,” Elliott said recently. “We redid roads and traffic patterns, created a quad, and built a massive garage. It transformed the campus, and led to a higher level of projects with Ohio State.” It also helped put DesignGroup in the company of much larger national and international firms. 

OSUWMC Richard M. Heart Hospital
The Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center


“I have never encountered a better collaborator than Elliott, and it was such a joy to work with him,” said Jerry Johnson, Principal with Perkins&Will. “Over the years, Elliott became such a good friend to me and our firm. I sought his advice and always tried to listen to what he had to offer because what he had to share was clearly valuable.”

Elliott consistently lived up to his personal creed, “Be true to your family, your friends, and your work.” In every project, Elliott pushed to achieve a higher level of design that addressed both the aesthetic and functional needs, carefully balancing ambition with the realities of stakeholders, budgets, and timelines.  

“Elliott played in a rock band in college and maintained a life-long love of music,” said DesignGroup CEO Sherm Moreland. “His band analogies to business, creativity, teamwork, and leadership have become part of the DG fabric. I’m so grateful I was able to ‘share the stage’ with Elliott since I joined the firm.” Elliott continues to play guitar, bass and piano, and performed at more than one DesignGroup party over the years. 

Elliott Bonnie, Mudshark
Band poster for Elliott's group, Mudshark. He is on the far left.


“I always looked forward to meetings with Elliott,” said David Boome, a former client and system director with Norton Healthcare. “I knew we’d discuss my two favorite topics: the architectural planning/design solution he was working on, and music. Specifically, not-so-well-known bands from the mid-to-late 70’s.  Elliott is an expert on both!”

“I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of collaborating on many, many projects with Elliott since 1985,” said Brian Kinzelman, Principal with MKSK. “We’ve produced some amazing design solutions together and have had much fun and professional satisfaction in the process. His design sensibilities, his commitment to client service, and his willingness to work with others really set him apart from most other practitioners. He’s been a great professional partner but a better friend.”

Elliott Bonnie and Family
Elliott and his wife Martha, center, with their two children and their spouses


Outside work, Elliott loves spending time with his wife, two children, and two grandchildren. And playing golf. And perfecting his yard. Like we said, many interests. “Everyone at DesignGroup thanks Elliott for his creativity, humanity, and vision,” added Sherm. “Congrats on retirement – it’s well earned. Enjoy!”