Charleston Area Medical Center’s (CAMC) new cancer center gives southern West Virginia cancer diagnosis and treatment services in one location. Opened in May 2015, the three-story, 110,000-square-foot building houses a comprehensive suite of cancer services: radiation oncology, medical oncology, clinical trials, medical office space, imaging, and a breast center.

The CAMC building design by Stantec stresses the need for human and natural connections. For many, the CAMC journey begins within the sun-filled lobby, or great room. Inspired by Charleston’s capitol dome, the space strives to evoke the peacefulness of a mountain retreat. Local artwork, a stone fireplace, a baby grand player piano, and a monumental staircase combine with ample seating. The great room also provides the connection to all support functions, including a counseling area, boutique, retail pharmacy, café, community room, and a healing garden.

The second critical component of care fostered by CAMC’s design is connecting patients to the restorative power of the natural world. Patient treatment areas and major circulation components directly connect to outdoor healing gardens, green terraces, and views towardsWest Virginia’s mountain ranges. These adjacencies serve as positive distractions and provide green spaces in which to relax and retreat.

Drawing on insights from former and current cancer patients and caregivers, Stantec configured the 32-chair infusion area into four-chair pods, each served by a decentralized nurses’ station. This puts the nurse either chairside or in view. The pod arrangement offers a high degree of flexibility for those receiving often lengthy treatment sessions. Here patients can engage with others or opt for privacy via a system of sliding glass panels. Each station is equipped with multiple chairs for visitors, while adjacent casework provides a space for personal belongings and staff supplies. Radiant heating panels are situated above the chairs for comfort.  

On the building’s exterior a signature element—a vertical spire—evolved late in the design process.  Says Stantec architect and cancer survivor Jim Routh, “When a person is told that they have cancer, their world begins to collapse. For me, the spire symbolizes the strength one needs to survive cancer. I hope that patients look towards this gesture and feel a sense of hope.”