Designing a smart ICU is a time-consuming, complex, multiphased, political, and costly exercise. This process begins with two notions: First, all hospital parties agree that a new or renovated ICU is required, and second, the hospital has agreed to allocate space, personnel, and fiscal resources for the project. In this first of a three-part series on innovative designs for the smart ICU, we will explore the roles of the ICU design team in managing the design process. The team must be administratively empowered, knowledgeable, and forward thinking. The first charge of the design team is to develop a clear vision for the goals, look and feel, and functionality of the new ICU. This vision must be guided by the imperative to positively impact patients, staff, and visitors. The team must concentrate on innovative but practical ideas that are in compliance with building codes and design guidelines and address issues related to renovation vs new construction. Mock-ups, both physical and computer generated, and a simulation laboratory for advanced technologies should be used to test design assumptions and reveal problems well in advance of actual ICU construction and technology implementation. Technology platforms need to be standardized within the ICU and equipment purchases protected against early obsolescence. The ramifications and expectations of the new ICU must be thoughtfully considered and dealt with during the design process. Last, it is essential that the design group continue its involvement in the new ICU during construction, occupancy, and post occupancy.