Evidence shows that a humane, patient-centered healthcare facility with access to daylight and views of the natural environment can have a positive impact on healing. Modern healthcare buildings, though, must be highly efficient, increasingly technologically advanced, and must integrate the latest equipment for healing. This high-tech high-touch balance can be a challenge to achieve, but EwingCole has done just that in its design of the Dale and Frances Hughes Cancer Center of Pocono Medical Center.
This cancer treatment facility in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania—about 75 miles west of New York—was designed based on the modernist concept of a machine in nature. It’s a cutting-edge, modern facility in a rural area—technologically advanced on the interior while drawing inspiration from the surrounding Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Connected by skywalk to the existing medical center that dates primarily from the mid-20th century, the new cancer center is contemporary and timeless with both interior and exterior responding to the natural features of the site.
The 65,000-square-foot cancer center has an L-shaped plan surrounding two sides of a landscaped courtyard, the focal point of the site and the nexus of a “captured wilderness” theme. Most public circulation and waiting areas within the building have ample views of the courtyard though floor-to-ceiling glazing. The glass and taut, orthogonal white metal insulated panels contrast with the organic, sinuous garden. Irregular vertical exterior mullion patterns on the glass are a metaphor for the random pattern of trees in a forest.
Addressing psychological needs
Inside, this comprehensive cancer center includes 20 chemotherapy infusion stations, two linear accelerator vaults, a pharmacy, CT simulator and PET/CT, a café, a meditation room, and conference spaces. Designed to provide the highest quality of care while easing patient duress, the intent of the building is to aid the healing process through design. EwingCole Director of Design Saul Jabbawy says, “We asked: What kind of place can we create that addresses the psychological needs of patients and of the people supporting them?”
Patients arrive in a three-story lobby, which narrows and then opens broadly to a view of the courtyard. This is another metaphor for the compressed spaces between mountains that open to great expanses in the Poconos. Central to the lobby is a staircase that is sculptural in its monolithic appearance—a rock-like formation within the space.
Other elements of texture and nature enliven the otherwise smooth, white modernist interior. Boulders strategically placed in the lobby (see cover) recall the natural setting, and a water feature with a fountain coming out of a boulder connects visually through the glass with the water flowing in the courtyard garden. Along the lobby, a screening element of reconstituted wood and acrylic adds warmth, layers of texture, and provides privacy for patients in treatment areas. Inspired by modernists such as Mondrian and LeCorbusier, a few walls of selective color such as red or blue contrast with the white porcelain tile floors. A slot of birch tree elements within a smooth, red wall serves as a visual marker—the natural world within a modern interior.
In plan, main circulation spaces gently curve, recalling the topography of hills. “The clear spatial structure and plan allow people visiting to find something new in these spaces,” Jabbawy says. “There’s always something to be discovered in the building—a visual complexity that allows people to be interested in the space.”
Custom partitions define spaces
EwingCole designed a custom partition of MDF and reconstituted wood that is implemented in both the waiting areas and in infusion bays. The partition in the infusion bays has two variations, one with a television monitor and one with a translucent acrylic 3form door that can be opened or closed, depending on whether neighboring patients want privacy or to chat with each other. For patients who want a conversation with a few others, infusion chairs are gathered in a “buddy bay” near a fireplace.
Furnishings in waiting areas were selected for their highly geometric, midcentury modern appearance, to coincide with the broader concept of the modern building. For the most part, lighting is indirect or recessed with no sconces or other fixtures that could become dated over time.
Jabbawy says the progressive client, Pocono Health System, brought forth a number of design concepts—such as the screening elements, the water feature in the lobby, and the openness of the glazing—that enabled the designers to advance the interiors. “To me, this is an extraordinary building because of an extraordinary client,” Jabbawy says. “The client wanted to rebrand its image and ensure a supportive environment for its patients. They drove a lot of the ideas while giving us a lot of freedom.”
Key Design Highlights
- The cancer center is based on the modern concept of a machine in the landscape.
- The lobby is designed to be a metaphor for the Poconos with sinuous lines and spaces that expand and compress. A sculptural staircase becomes actual topography in the space.
- Elements of texture, pattern, and nature—including reconstituted wood—enliven the modern interior.
- EwingCole designed a custom partition of MDF and reconstituted wood with variations used in infusion bays and waiting areas. Infusion bay options allow for patient control if they choose to socialize with each or if they want privacy.
Dale and Frances Hughes Cancer Center
Client Pocono Medical Center
Where East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
What 65,000 total square feet on three floors
Architect: Ewing Cole.
Architecture project team: Andrew Jarvis, AIA, principal/planner; Oscar Gomes, project manager; Saul Jabbawy, designer; Michael Macolino, project architect; Visothmony Sao, assistant project architect; Tara McGrath, interior designer.
Interior design project team: Saul Jabbawy, designer; Tara McGrath, interior designer.
Contractor: Turner Construction.
Consultants: BFMolz (furniture dealer); Pennoni and Associates, Inc. (civil engineer).
Lighting: Mary Alcaraz, EwingCole.
Engineering: Aitor Sanchez (structural); David Gordon (mechanical); Mary Alcaraz (electrical); Joanne Sharma (plumbing); Tony Van Dyke (life safety and fire protection).
Landscape: Cairone & Kaupp, Inc.
Wallcoverings: Eykon; JM Lynne; KnollTextiles; MDC Wallcoverings; Wolf-Gordon.
Laminate: Abet Laminati; Architectural Systems, Inc.; Arpa; Formica; Liri America; Nevamar; Pionite.
Solid surfacing: Corian; Meganite; Zodiaq. Walls: Modernfold (moveable); National Gypsum (dry); Trenwyth (masonry).
Flooring: Amtico (resilient); Casalgrande Padana (porcelain tile); Forbo (resilient); Gerbert Limited (resilient); LSI Floors (resilient); Roppe (resilient).
Carpet: Shaw. Ceiling: Armstrong.
Interior lighting: Axis (recessed); Barbican (pendants/chandeliers); Lumenpulse LED coves (decorative); Mark Lighting (recessed); Pathway (recessed).
Exterior lighting: Axis; Hydrel; Modular.
Doors: Eggers; Sargent (hardware).
Decorative glass panels: 3form; Lumicor; Sensitile.
Window treatments: Mechoshade.
Seating: Allsteel (workstation/task, conference); KI (patient, lounge/reception, cafeteria/dining); La-Z-Boy Healthcare (patient).
Upholstery: Arc/Com; KnollTextiles; Maharam; Momentum; Pallas.
Tables: Custom (reception desk); KI (conference, cafeteria/dining, training, side tables).
Storage systems: Custom (lockers/cubbies); HON (files, shelving, drawers/case goods).
Architectural woodworking: ASI Wood; Atlantic Woodwork.
Accessories: Nettleton Hollow.
Signage: L&H Companies.
Plumbing fixtures: American Standard; Bemis; Chicago Faucets; Delta; Elkay; Fiat; Keeney; Plumberex; TOTO; Zurn.