The Cedars Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Center, for Dr. Bernard Salick, was in every sense a watershed project. Dr. Salick had conceived of a highly innovative new plan for cancer treatment that would regroup all of the different treatment protocols under one roof: diagnosis, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, pharmacy, and counseling. This prototype for a more humane, patient-centered treatment process challenged us to develop new architectural solutions consistent with this spirit.
The subterranean site led us to focus on interior architecture, especially the use of light. A half-barrel-vault skylight illuminates the whole of the main patient floor, while layered and curved walls further diffuse light into the space. Rooms are designed with views oriented from the perspective of the patient, lying down and looking up. Key to the concept for the center was incorporating family into the treatment environment. Thus, individual rooms in the chemotherapy atrium open onto main social spaces for gathering and interacting with relatives, allowing patients to determine their own level of privacy. As a whole, the project represented a profound exploration of architecture's potential for communicating compassion and instilling confidence in patients' ability to fight a life-threatening disease.