The Focused Cancer Patient Experience
With a focus on lifesaving services for cancer patients, SightLine Health hired Arch-Interiors Design Group, Inc. to design a space that would ease anxiety and imbue a sense of calm for patients at its Golden State Cancer Centers – San Fernando Valley in Woodland Hills, Calif. The suburban surroundings helped to set the tone in designing for the 11,700-square-foot space, which opened in 2011. “When we talked to the client about the project, it was clear that they wanted to keep some of the architectural lines but also soften it a little to feel almost residential,” says Christopher Grubb, president, lead designer, Arch-Interiors. The owner asked for natural elements in the design, but left the specifics to Arch-Interiors. “It was a really wonderful opportunity that we didn’t have too many confines,” says Grubb.
From an architectural standpoint, the options were a little less forgiving. “This was a remodel project inside a one-story commercial building,” explains Jeff Ball, project architect, Boynton Williams & Associates. “The whole building design was based on patient flow and making the experience as pleasant as possible. Since the existing building shell is proportioned, we tried to use that and took the symmetry of the building as a design cue. One half of the building is geared toward treatment and the other to pretreatment and consultation.”
Using a palette of green, blue, and warmer gold tones, the design team added punches of color as well as different patterns, and fabric materials to give the space a cheerful feel. While some areas of the building had an abundance of daylight, others didn’t—and the color palette and other decorative details such as artwork helped to provide some brightness.
As patients enter the building, they’re met with a sense of openness, with the reception desk set at an unobtrusive angle. The goal was to make sure patients and visitors didn’t feel as if they had to go through a crowd of people to gain access to the receptionist for check-in. Separate but grouped seating areas allow the option of privacy, quiet conversation, or contemplation with views to the outdoors while awaiting treatment.
Wood floors and carpet tile add warmth and softness in the waiting area. This was also carried through to the conference room and the CT scan room. Within the CT scan room, where backlit photographic art on the ceiling provides a positive distraction during procedures. “Especially in the CT scan room, we wanted it to feel warm and not sterile, so we used wood tones. There’s also a lot of cabinetry, and using the soft wall color helped to create a more pleasant atmosphere,” says Jamie Rueb, senior designer, Arch-Interiors.
“There’s one linear accelerator room and the owner wanted the capability to add a second one in the future without having to disrupt the daily operations of the current facility,” Ball adds. “They wanted the flexibility to expand, and this brought its own challenges. We put the accelerator vault in the back corner of the building and, adjacent to that, a very large storage room with double-door access to the exterior to accommodate the expansion potential when the time comes.”
In the bathrooms, says Rueb, “We wanted to make the look a little more contemporary without it being too severe and sterile. We added glass tile on the wall and carried this detail around the wainscoting on the other walls with warm, neutral colors. A floating vanity and porcelain tile flooring completed the elegant look.”
Although the seven exam rooms required customary equipment, flooring, and square footage, there was an opportunity to infuse color and comfort with the addition of artwork featuring nature images and restful seating with vibrant fabrics. “There’s only so much we can do with the medical equipment we have to work around. So with the furniture, we wanted the family members to be able to sit with the patient and relax. Our job is to make more of the spaces so that the patient feels good about being there,” Grubb says.