Cancer Care Ontario's policy to provide “care closer to home” was the genesis for the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre. Located on the campus of Kitchener, Ontario's Grand River Hospital, the center provides exclusively outpatient oncology treatment and relies on its host hospital for any additional patient services.

The hospital's master plan identified the aging Scott Building as the preferred site for the new center. Well known to the community as the original Berlin Hospital, its brick, stone, and stained glass were salvaged during its demolition for incorporation in feature walls of the new building.

Project category: New construction (completed September 2003)

Chief administrator: Patrick Gaskin, Executive Vice-President, Grand River Hospital, and Vice-President, Regional Cancer Services, Cancer Care Ontario, (519) 749-4245

Firm: Vermeulen/Hind Architects, (905) 628-1500

Design team: Fred Vermeulen, Partner-in-Charge; Mary Jo Hind, Project Architect; Paul Dowling, Design Architect; Chris Harrison, Design Architect; Jennifer Timmis, Interior Designer

Photography: Ben Rahn/A-Frame, Inc.

Total building area (sq. ft.): 98,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $245 (Canadian)

Total construction cost (excluding land): $24,000,000 (Canadian)

The planning of the new center responds to the need for patient flow between existing campus buildings, the desire for natural light, and the compact and sloping nature of the site. The building's main entry level coincides with the hospital's main entry, providing a seamless transition between public spaces and patient amenities. The main level houses the Supportive Care and Radiation Therapy program and includes six doorless, high-energy treatment rooms and two simulator rooms. A broad public stair and vertically interconnected waiting spaces link to the Outpatient Clinics and Chemotherapy Suite on the floor above. Support areas are located on the bottom floor of the center, and medical staff offices, administration, and conference rooms are located on the top floor.

The Outpatient waiting areas have direct access to a courtyard patient garden, which features a water garden and reflecting pool, and a trellis-shaded outdoor sitting area. A portion of the courtyard garden is a “green roof” over the floor below and is open to the campus on its north side. Landscape materials repeat the building palette of stone, brick, and wood.

The building's spatial volumes and material choices were developed to create a calm, comfortable environment and a sense of regional identity. Inspiration came from the forms and craftsmanship of the region's Mennonite farmsteads and rolling landscape. To reinforce the importance of the patient as an individual and overcome the highly technical nature of the treatment equipment, handmade elements are integrated into the design. Locally crafted quilts identify each radiation treatment room, hand-kilned glass and gouged-ash panels are used at reception areas, and hand-carved stone panels welcome patients at the building's entrances.