Creating a new ambulatory surgery center for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, in New York, with a 100-by-115-foot footprint on a tight urban site required the design team to rethink traditional planning strategies and go vertical rather than horizontal.

The project, submitted by Perkins Eastman, earned an honorable mention in the 2016 Healthcare Design Showcase.

The 179,000-square-foot Josie Robertson Surgery Center, which opened in December 2015, houses vertically stacked operating rooms on three floors with care areas specifically designed for specialty procedures. A PACU short-stay area, family waiting space, pre-op, and a business center overlooking a rooftop terrace are located on other floors.

The stacked arrangement allows ample perimeter views and natural light inside the patient rooms and surgical support areas, including labs and staff lockers. A veiled exterior features low- emissivity glazing covered in a white ceramic frit pattern that’s opaque in some areas to provide privacy without impacting views.

Several variances were required for the building, including one for the uninterrupted floor plates required by the surgical program, which meant the building core mechanical and structural elements are on the perimeter.

Flood zone requirements also meant that electrical transformers needed to be located in concrete vaults on the second floor and the main IT center on an upper floor.

Jurors lauded the project’s aesthetics that “don’t scream healthcare,” such as the luxurious lobby and the use of natural light. “Nice response to a complex urban site,” one juror noted.

Anne DiNardo is senior editor of Healthcare Design. She can be reached at