Memorial Sloan-Kettering Ambulatory Cancer Care Center COMMACK, NY
Memorial Sloan-Kettering's goal for its first freestanding ambulatory cancer care center outside Manhattan was to bring cancer care closer to its suburban patients in an uplifting and encouraging environment. “We insisted this be a facility that was welcoming, soothing, and pleasant to be in,” says James Harden, executive director of Memorial Sloan-Kettering's Regional Care Network. “We also wanted something that fit one's expectations of what Memorial Sloan-Kettering is and showed that our suburban care is as good as anything we have in the city.”
For this project and its outpatient facilities in Manhattan, Sloan-Kettering wanted to refine processes for delivering ambulatory cancer care with the patient's experience as its primary focus. The cancer care system began the design process by scrutinizing patient satisfaction surveys and examining feedback, both positive and negative, about experiences in other facilities. Armed with these insights, Sloan-Kettering and the architects jointly developed the major organizational systems and spaces around a new model of ambulatory cancer care delivery.
To maintain a patient-focused philosophy throughout the design process, the team integrated proven characteristics of supportive environments by establishing “design rules,” such as: (1) Daylight and outdoor views must be seen when circulating throughout the building and in patient spaces. (2) No cars may be seen in front of the building from the main road. (3) Waiting patients and family must have several choices of where to go for intimacy or seclusion. (4) Initial patient destinations must be within sight of the main entrance door. (5) Patients in gowns may not be seen except by physicians, nurses, and clinical staff. (6) All surfaces touched by a patient should be made from natural, not synthetic, products. (7) Generous views of nature, living creatures, and art are provided throughout.
A universal exam/office/consult module allows for interchangeability of space in the future. Zones for future internal growth to accommodate advances in technology were distributed as “soft space” throughout the facility. The site plan and building engineering systems were designed to allow for 15,000 square feet of external growth, as permitted by zoning.
“The building's design is an artistic expression of our aspirations for our patients,” says Harden. “It sets expectations of warmth and caring that are reaffirmed once you go inside. It is truly an uplifting place for our patients.” A recent patient remarked, “When I come here I don't feel like I have cancer. Each time I'm here I somehow feel better about myself, my disease, and my future.”
Project category: New construction (completed June 2002)
Chief administrator: James Harden, Executive Director, Regional Care Network, (212) 639-8328
Firm: Ewing Cole Cherry Brott, (215) 923-2020
Design team: Andrew Jarvis, CEO; Trish Rauner, Interior Design; Barbara Cedrone, Construction Architect; Holynn Wallace, Project Architect; Don Jones, Design Principal
Photography: Tom Crane; Jeffrey Totaro
Total building area (GSF): 50,000
Construction cost/sq. ft.: $340
Total cost (excluding land): $17,000,000