The design promotes a welcoming, residential atmosphere for children and adolescents, many of whom spend an extended period of time in the unit receiving treatment. The unit features a central infusion space with clusters of recliners organized into play zones for children of differing ages. A video-game kiosk serves as the centerpiece to the space for older children and adolescents, along with an area with a built-in TV and a toddlers' play area with lower surfaces and furniture.

Project category: Remodel/Renovation (completed January 2005)

Chief administrator: Donna Laforce, Project Leader, Master Plan Redevelopment, (905) 521-9800

Firm: Parkin Architects Limited, (416) 467-8000

Design team: Donna Laforce, Project Leader, Master Plan Redevelopment (Hamilton Health Sciences); John Christie, Project Director; Brent Whiteley, Project Architect; Dawn Anderson Vaughan, Interior Designer; Lynne Wilson Orr, Project Coordinator (Parkin Architects Limited)

Photography: Richard Johnson (

Total building area (sq. ft.): 4,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $118 (Canadian)

Total construction cost (excluding land): $473,000 (Canadian)

Two private treatment cubicles are located on the perimeter for children requiring more intensive treatment. These spaces feature TVs and illuminated, sky-panel ceilings with separate controls for lighting. A child-friendly environment was promoted throughout with the use of marble light fixtures, display boards for children's artwork, and bright colors. An existing series of examination rooms opposite the infusion space was maintained with cosmetic renovations.

A major challenge for the architect was determining how to increase patient capacity within the confines of the existing unit. The Oncology Unit was originally organized as a series of smaller treatment rooms with patient and staff spaces overlapping. The space was opened up into one large infusion space, and staff functions were relocated to the periphery of the unit. This eliminates the “dance” that used to occur on busy clinic days as medical staff and patients occupied the same space. Drug-preparation areas are located close to the infusion space, with viewing windows to allow staff to discreetly maintain constant visual control. Staff meeting and work areas are equipped with audiovisual services and mobile systems furniture that can be reconfigured easily to suit the changing needs of the unit.

Another element addressed in the design was an existing ceiling that forms part of an interstitial space. Colored bulkheads were constructed below the existing ceiling and these, with the floor patterns, help to define the patient and staff zones in a playful manner. In selecting the palette of colors and materials, the architects sought to create a familiar, residential atmosphere that would downplay the technology.

User-group meetings were held throughout the design process, and medical staff were encouraged to examine clinic procedures to determine how the space could better support the patients and staff. Meetings were held in the existing space to allow users to visualize the proposed design. Staff also brought patients to meetings for their input, particularly with respect to play areas and colors.