Interiors Awards 2017: Healthcare–Large

Creating a distinctive and welcoming identity for the building, folded perforated copper-colored aluminum sunshades block glare and heat gain. Photography by Nick Merrick.

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The University of Arizona Cancer Center at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center
Designer: ZGF Architects
Client: The University of Arizona
Location: Phoenix

“This building makes the statement that healthcare design can be elegant and sophisticated, with rich materials and neutral colorways. The architects looked to even the technical spaces as design opportunities.”—Jury

Sunny, dry Phoenix is well known for its luxury resorts. With that context in mind, ZGF Architects brought a sense of respite to a keen understanding of the climate and surroundings for the new University of Arizona Cancer Center at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.

“The client asked us to create a hospitality feel—not a clinical one—and we achieved this by considering patients’ comfort, privacy, and warmth,” says ZGF Principal Mitra Memari, based in Los Angeles.

Unique in offering multidisciplinary cancer care under one roof, the five-story, 220,000-square-foot center is located downtown in a 28-acre medical and bioscience development. Here, the ZGF designers humanized cutting-edge science through the use of luxurious-feeling materials. On the exterior, the mostly glass building has a travertine base and perforated copper-colored aluminum sunshades, which are essential in blocking glare and heat gain. The crisp geometries of the screens’ folded shapes present a distinctive, welcoming identity.

To further the sense of pampering, patients can leave their cars with a valet under a protective canopy and enter into a double-height lobby boasting views of a healing garden shaded by native palo brea trees. The travertine base’s variegated striations of cream, tan, and brown are carried throughout the interior and offset by pops of color, including a custom-made sky-blue mobile overhead in a cafe area. Typically, radiation oncology is located in windowless rooms with a focus on the heavy equipment, but ZGF placed it on the first floor with daylight permeating the department. As a result, many public zones—including the main registration area, a demonstration kitchen, and survivorship services—are located on the second floor. A grand stone-clad stairway connects the first two levels.

Screening elements throughout create a layered, transparent interior. At patient registration, etched-glass panels provide visual and acoustical privacy. Slatted-wood dividers add a sense of enclosure around the waiting lounges on each floor while permitting views inside and out. Each lounge has a variety of seating options, which are grouped in clusters to feel more like a living room than a medical office. While every department has its own front entrance off of the lobby, they are all interconnected to facilitate consultation among medical specialties. A large central staircase—with dramatic LED lighting coves tracing its steps—encourages staff to take the stairs rather than the elevator. Walls of floor-to-ceiling glass in all exam and treatment rooms bring in daylight though still feel private due to the exterior sunscreens.

ZGF placed the infusion center on the second floor of the north side of the building for lower solar heat gain and to allow patients to have unobstructed views of Camelback Mountain while undergoing treatments. Patient input played a considerable role in the design of this area, according to Marcia Gruber-Page, vice president of oncology services at the center. “There was a debate over whether it should be private or open so that patients can talk to make time go faster. Patients suggested that it could be both,” says Gruber-Page. The solution was oversize glass doors that patients can open or close as they wish; the doors are transparent so staff can see patients at all times.

To reduce operating costs and achieve LEED Silver certification, a chilled beam mechanical system is implemented for heating and cooling, allowing annual energy costs to be reduced by more than 20 percent. An added advantage of the system is the elimination of drafts—a critical consideration for infusion therapy patients. In some areas, lighting is incorporated in the overhead chilled beam, making it a design feature. “Throughout the center, lighting—both artificial and natural—was carefully calibrated to create a noninstitutional feeling,” says Memari. “A connection to natural light and its healing properties was key in supporting the center’s mission of compassionate, comprehensive care.”

who: Architect and interior designer: ZGF Architects. Contractor: Hensel Phelps Construction. Lighting: Francis Krahe & Associates. Engineering: Martin, White & Griffis Structural Engineers/ John A. Martin & Associates (structural); Dibble & Associates Consulting Engineers (civil); Affiliated Engineers (MEP). Landscape: Wheat Design Group. Graphics: ZGF Architects. Acoustician: Colin Gordon Associates. Environmental designer: Atelier Ten. Code consultant: Jensen Hughes.
what: Wallcoverings: Flavor Paper; Forbo. Laminate: Pionite. Walls: National Gypsum. Flooring: Terrazzo; Armstrong; Johnsonite; Gerflor; Stonhard. Carpet/carpet tile: Bentley. Ceilings: USG; Decoustics. Lighting: Prudential Lighting; Peerless; Axis; Bega; Kirlin; Finelite; Focal Point; USAI; Edision Price; Moda Light; Winona; NewStar; Ecosense; Electric Mirror; Wattstopper; Wild West Lighting; HK Lighting. Doors: Stanley; KT Fabrication; West Central Manufacturing; Algoma Hardwoods; Aurora Doors; Skyline Design; Overhead Door Company; Special Lite; Algoma; C.R. Laurence; Tiger Door; Nelco. Glass: Viracon; SaftiFirst; Skyline Design. Window treatments: MechoShade. Seating: Western Millwork. Upholstery: Maharam. Reception desk: Difiniti Quartz. Lockers/cubbies: Vanguard by Penco; Ideal Products; Western Millwork. Architectural/custom woodworking: Western Millwork. Signage: Design Graphics. Plumbing fixtures: Chicago Faucets; Delta; Kohler; Halsey Talyor. Lobby mobiles: Studio Lilica.