The fourth and final installment for this year’s Design 4 Healthcare series happened at the New York Design Center last week. Three principals at Perkins Eastman presented to a packed audience inside the HBF showroom, providing insight into their own special human-centered approach to design. Maureen Carley-Vallejo, Associate Principal at Perkins Eastman began the evening by introducing her fellow colleagues Duncan Reid, Principal and designer in charge of healthcare, and Jeffrey Brand, Principal and chief healthcare planner for the New York office. The format of the presentation was a virtual tour; the presenters took the audience through an experience one would have in these environments, either as a patient, family member, or a staff member.
“Designing for cancer is a very sensitive building type,” said Mr. Brand. ”It is a large and diverse group of users that occupy a cancer facility; from patients and doctors to researchers and administrators.” Balancing everyone’s specific needs requires “a way that is respectful, life affirming and takes the clinical out of it in order to remain very approachable.” Mr. Brand continued, “There is a normalcy for a cancer center that we strive to meet.” Indeed, for patients that are likely to come in to the same facility for multiple days or even multiple weeks in a row, they need to experience a place that becomes familiar, like a gym or a spa.
Beginning with the exterior of the 240,000 SF Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) and the MSKCC Imaging Center, Mr. Reid explained “It’s two blocks away from the rest of the hospital campus. It has an identity that is more closely linked to a residential than a healthcare context. We took a very concerted effort to use materials that reflected the residential character of its setting.” With a massing that expresses its purpose and a tremendous reliance on human contact, the private and dignified setting is focused on the familiar. “The design for cancer care has a long timeframe. Some patients could visit up to 100 times in the course of their treatment. One of the driving goals with this type of care is to create a building that doesn’t look institutional. It doesn’t feel like a hospital.”
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