Approaches to healing
Jen Renzi -- Interior Design, 2/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
In some ways, New York-Presbyterian Hospital's adult and pediatric oncology facilities posed similar design challenges, and Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects responded accordingly. "The elements available to play with in medical environments are extremely limited, given the materials, function, and equipment constraints. We transcended the necessary by exploding the visual vocabulary," says partner Robert Siegel. Furthermore, explains project architect Cheryl McQueen, both adults' and children's schemes support daily activities—Web surfing, studying, playing with blocks—so patients regain a sense of the normality and control that illness strips away.
Similarities end, however, at the level of mood. One zone of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center is ordered and subdued. The other is freewheeling and invigorating—an invitation to children to imagine their own world.
The meditative adult medical-surgical oncology center features beech millwork, an overall orthogonality, and city views that reconnect patients to the world beyond hospital walls. Siegel and partner Charles Gwathmey situated treatment rooms and public areas along the perimeter, maximizing daylight. In the three waiting lounges, Gwathmey Siegel splurged on limestone flooring and beech-slat ceilings. More restricted spaces, such as the semiprivate chemotherapy rooms, owe their upscale appearance to the architects' use of curved lines, ample glazing, and beech details. A regulating datum line in the form of a 41-inch-high chair rail runs through the 30,000-square-foot space to provide a framework for furniture and architectural elements: banquettes in waiting rooms, nurse stations in hallways, partitions in treatment areas, and door detailing, for example. "It's a flexible ordering system that creates a customized, built-in look even where we sourced freestanding case goods," says Siegel.
In pediatric oncology, he continues, "Similar limitations resulted in a completely different aesthetic. While still structured, it meanders like a lively townscape." Or a colorful playland. Every available surface was attended to. An oversize photomural of an aquarium greets patients at check-in. Activity areas—which double as public spaces, rather than standing aside as separate playrooms—are defined by a custom linoleum floor depicting fish and foliage, plus structural columns painted as trees. The uplifting chromatic scheme of the public areas carries through to the tinted glazing and candy-colored vinyl of private rooms and hallways. Even the ceiling received special treatment, with prone patients in mind: A dropped-grid system softens mechanicals overhead while still allowing full access to the machinery. Finally, the human touches, from children's artwork to the project team's passion and perseverance, are what make the design so successful.
CHAIR RAIL, RECEPTION DESK (ADULT WAITING LOUNGE): RIMI WOODCRAFT CORP. TABLES: TUOHY CORPORATION. FLOORING: PORT MORRIS TILE MARBLE CORPORATION. SLAT CEILING: HOWARD MANUFACTURING. BANQUETTE FABRIC: KNOLL. CUSTOM BANQUETTE (ADULT WAITING LOUNGE), CEILING INSTALLATION, ROLLING CART (CHEMOTHERAPY AREA): HIRD/BLAKER. CURTAINS (CHEMOTHERAPY AREA): MAHARAM (POLYESTER); CASCADE COIL DRAPERY (MESH); KIRSCH (TRACK); STAR DRAPERIES (FABRICATION). TASK LIGHTING: STEELCASE. FLOORING (CHEMOTHERAPY AREA, PEDIATRIC ACTIVITY AREA): FORBO. CHAIRS, TABLES (PEDIATRIC ACTIVITY AREA): KI. FLOORING, CEILING PANELS (HALLWAY, PRIVATE ROOM): ARMSTRONG WORLD INDUSTRIES. GLAZING: MCGRORY GLASS. BED (PRIVATE ROOM): HILL-ROM SERVICES. SCONCE: LTRE THROUGH LUXLUCE. LINOLEUM, VINYL FLOOR INSTALLATION: LANES FLOOR COVERINGS. LIGHTING CONSULTANT: HILLMANN DI BERNARDO ASSOCIATES. STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: SEVERUD ASSOCIATES. CONSTRUCTION MANAGER: HRH CONSTRUCTION COMPANY (ADULTS); WEST CONTRACTING (PEDIATRIC).