Angie Fowler Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Institute

In the reception area, a rounded desk and a circular, lighted element suspended from the ceiling are made from Corian. Photography by Hanson PhotoGraphic

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Angie Fowler, a vibrant, art-loving teen, succumbed to melanoma in 1983. In the brief months between her diagnosis and death, Angie–an adolescent on the cusp of pediatric care–underwent cancer treatment in adult care settings. That inadvertently compounded her tragedy by offering few age-appropriate comforts to the terminally ill 14-year-old. To honor Angie, address her plight, and bring resources to adolescent and young adult cancer patients, Angie’s family—including parents Char and Chuck Fowler, who live in the Cleveland area—donated $17.5 million in 2011 to establish the Angie Fowler Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Institute, an outpatient facility at University Hospitals (UH) Rainbow Babies & Children Hospital in Cleveland.

In addition to a state-of-the-art facility for young cancer patients, “we wanted the space to be uplifting, positive, and full of light,” says Robert Telecky, project coordinator with UH Construction Services. The hospital selected Atlanta- based firm Stanley Beaman & Sears, known for designing approachable pediatric facilities, to design Angie’s Institute—a complete renovation of UH Rainbows eighth floor and the creation of a roof garden.

The design concept embraced light, nature, and color in a warm and hopeful environment focused on the particular needs of adolescent patients. To accomplish this, the Stanley Beaman & Sears team—including Principal Burn Sears, project architects Portia Ellis and Moses Waindi, interior designer Robin Kirkman, and construction administration architectural designer Brian Peterka—worked closely with the UH Rainbow medical staff, the Fowlers, and focus groups of patients and family members.

“We looked to provide an environment that is comfortable and approachable for pediatric patients, but sophisticated and attractive for young adults,” Peterka says. The design establishes separate spaces for pediatric and young adult patients, and uses light to literally and metaphorically guide the patient’s experience.

The illuminated journey
Stanley Beaman & Sears devised “an abstract motif of the ‘Illuminated Journey,’ which comes from light and nature,” Peterka says. Indeed, light and nature pervade Angie’s Institute, guiding patients and their families through the 27,500-square-foot outpatient facility, which contains two treatment wings, age-appropriate lounges, a pharmacy, a blood lab, and a rooftop garden.

Upon entry, a 60-foot-long “color-changing Welcome Wall sets the stage for the Illuminated Journey that continues throughout the entire renovation,” Peterka says. Against a backdrop of white walls and multi-toned engineered-wood floors and ceilings, the Welcome Wall greets visitors with embedded monitors, which at times display an aquarium theme in reference to Angie’s interest in marine biology. Comprised of  thermoformed, backlit Corian, the wall connects the pediatric and young adult clinics at opposite ends of the floor.

In the treatment wings, natural light filters through the translucent glass walls of the 25 patient rooms, each outfitted with cheerful gender-neutral color schemes, blonde wood cabinets, and patient-customizable colored lighting. Against the white-hued palette of the clinics’ corridors, wood accents flag the decentralized care team stations, which position caregivers closer to treatment rooms and encourage  interaction between staff and patients.

On the ninth floor, an open-air garden occupies the formerly uninhabited roof. “Created for patients and families to ‘get away’ without having to leave,” Telecky says, the garden contains a vegetated wall, fanciful sculptures, cast-in-place-concrete planting beds, and a colored-glass canopy, which casts a rainbow onto the paved walking path below.

A sense of belonging

The age-specific lounges—spaces where patients can be themselves—are among the most unique aspects of Angie’s Institute. For pediatric patients, a playroom offers child-sized work surfaces, bright armchairs, and mounted touchscreen monitors for interactive play. For young adult patients, a separate teen lounge, complete with cushioned window seats, colorful armchairs, and bar-height seating, contains its own interactive element—a sizable audiovisual wall for Internet browsing, movie watching, and video gaming. Large windows allow ample light in, especially in the curved learning area called Grant’s Room, which can be isolated with sliding glass doors. Multiple art installations, honoring Angie’s love of art, punctuate the interior of white walls, floors of Nora Centica rubber sheet flooring and Centiva wood plank, and striated wood ceilings.

Well-received since opening, Angie’s Institute is “bringing a sense of warmth, welcome, and poetry to what could have been a cold, clinical environment,” Peterka says. Indeed, while Angie has been gone more than 30 years, her memory survives through the institute, offering young cancer patients a sense of belonging and a path of hope during difficult times.

2015 Healthcare Environment Awards
Ambulatory Care Honorable Mention
Angie Fowler Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Institute

Architect: Stanley Beaman & Sears
Client: University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital
Where: Cleveland
What: 27,500 total square feet on two floors
Cost/sf: Withheld at client’s request