Mary Frazier, a principal with Philadelphia-based EwingCole, which designed the facility, said the central staircase connects the facility's lower-floor lobby to second-floor services such as medical oncology, infusion rooms and the retail pharmacy. Frazier said it has become her firm's practice to place stairs near elevators because it lets patients make a statement about their health progress.
“The original concept is for patients to affirm their wellness,” Frazier said. “They say, 'I'm feeling good, I can take the stairs.' But we find staff likes to use them, too.”
The project is a renovation of a 1950s-era office building located along a stretch of office parks in Westchester County. “It doesn't look like a renovation,” said Design Award judge Agnessa Todorova, a healthcare architect and director of integration for Brisbane, Calif.-based Aditazz. “It looks timeless. It could have been built 50 years ago or just today.”
Removable partitions in the infusion area give the facility flexibility to add new technology or make other changes called for by clinical innovations. Todorova said the MSK West Harrison center showed that it was possible to customize a value-based design to come up with a fresh and attractive building. “It's a very nice and elegant solution despite the constraints,” she said. “Its simple lobby and public spaces don't scream 'hospital' to me.”
The project was awarded gold certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program because of its energy-efficient design, use of recycled and low chemical-emission materials, water efficiency and access to public transportation.
Every effort was made to place medical equipment out of sight behind cabinets. Design elements were borrowed from hotel, residential and spa settings so patients would feel comfortable.
Henry Chao, a principal with HOK architects in New York who served as a judge, said he liked how the building fit with its surroundings and community. “It's so New York and East Coast,” he said.
Frazier said there was a conscious effort to achieve that indigenous look. She said the project team visited a local shopping center to study the construction materials used and what kind of stores local residents liked to frequent.
The facility features photographic art supplied by the staff. Frazier said the art is changed quarterly, so patients don't have to look at the same things over and over. “Patients repeatedly go back,” she said. “This gives patients a feeling of progress.”