Today's healthcare environment requires inspired design that enhances the healing process by engaging patients and comforting families. Women at risk of or diagnosed with breast cancer need to obtain fully integrated, compassionate care in one beautiful, comfortable setting.

Memorial Breast Cancer Center is the leading breast cancer program in Broward County, Florida. It offers a superior level of individualized breast cancer care through a combination of medical expertise, advanced treatment options, and essential support services. The 6,000-sq.-ft., state-of-the-art center encompasses 6 exam rooms, 12 chemotherapy infusion suites, a refreshment area, a computerized pharmacy system, and conference, meeting, and administrative spaces, as well as rooms for acupuncture and other alternative therapies.

The hospital's approach to the project was the conversion of an existing 6,000-sq.-ft., freestanding In-Vitro/Fertilization program building, which is adjacent to the hospital campus, into a Women's Breast Cancer Center facility. Ease of access and the residentially styled (noninstitutional appearing) building were attributes of the proposed Women's Breast Cancer Center program.

As you enter the newly constructed center, your senses are captivated with soothing music, warm colors, and photos of beautiful landscapes. Every effort has been made to eliminate the institutional feel of large medical facilities. The design of the facility accentuates patient comfort while providing a medically efficient layout for treatment and oversight.

A kidney-shaped nurses' station has efficient, modern workspaces and allows staff an unobstructed view to all infusion areas. Opaque glass sliding panels allow all patients privacy for napping or visits with family members during treatment. A variety of lighting types and dimmers allows individual patient control. Adequate space was planned for patients' families to visit during treatment. Special features include individual television screens in the infusion suites. Faux-hardwood floors and calming earth tones are the central design theme throughout.

Project category: Conversion (completed March 2005)

Chief administrator: J. E. Piriz, Administrator, (954) 987-2000

Firm: Saltz Michelson Architects, (954) 266-2700

Design team: Charles A. Michelson, AIA, Project Mana-ger; Victor A. Alvarez, Director of Design; Frida Dunayer, Interior Design (Saltz Michelson Architects); Jorge Cervantes, PE, MEP Engineer (Jorge R. Cervantes, PE, Inc.)

Photography: ©2006 John Gillan

Total building area (sq. ft.): 6,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $93

Total construction cost (excluding land): $558,000

Each infusion space has a telephone and laptop for convenient e-mail and Internet access during treatment. The infusion room portrays the image of a contemporary, cutting-edge medical facility that is warm and personal.

To keep spirits high and energies focused on the positive, all exam rooms are named to inspire hopefulness and tranquility. A large conference room will be used for support groups, meditation, and music therapy. Complementary and alternative therapy rooms are provided for Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, yoga and relaxation, and imagery techniques.