UNC Rex Cancer Center

  • area / size 145,000 sqft
  • Completed 2022
  • BSA LifeStructures designed the UNC Rex Cancer Center with a priority given to human connection and healing in Raleigh, North Carolina.

    Cancer affects so many. The UNC Rex Cancer Center, a 145,000 sf outpatient building, offers hope, healing, and support in a welcoming and calming way.

    The site responds to the challenges that patients often face when undergoing treatment and offers moments of respite. The grade from the parking lot to the entrance is subtle while landscape berms offer a moment to pause and take a breath. By positioning the building’s entry away from the bustling public roadways, it offers the dignity to arrive during a vulnerable time. The arrival sequence of patios, gardens, and gathering rooms signals this is much more than a cancer clinic, it is a supportive place to conquer cancer together.

    Human connection is the essence of the public space of the building. Staff members are immediately visible to aid patients in navigating the building. Waiting rooms are transformed into living rooms, complete with the warmth of a limestone hearth, to act as wayfinding and gathering moments throughout. By consciously deciding to remove televisions from the facility and thoughtfully arranging furniture, social interaction is prioritized.

    A highly collaborative design process involved medical staff, architects, engineers, design researchers as well as survivors, patients and their family caregivers. Through simulation research, the services of the building were stratified by the amount of time patients would occupy the building. Shorter duration services, such as radiation treatment and lab, are located immediately off the first floor lobby. Longer durations, such as infusion treatment, are positioned at the highest levels of the building with the best view of the surrounding treetops. Natural daylighting, views of nature, and outdoor access for patients, caregivers, and medical staff promote revitalization. The interior finishes improve indoor air quality, reduce cancer causing toxins, and balance infection control for the immunocompromised. Engagement with the survivors, patients, and family members led to a re-imagination of the infusion bays to offer private, semi-private, or communal arrangements of treatment chairs, as many cancer patients gather strength from one another, but other days desire isolation.

    To support the emotional journey of patients, caregivers, and the medical staff, convenient areas of respite are located throughout the building. They vary from a spiritual room for prayer or meditation, business-center spaces for remote work, to intimate seating areas with local artists’ murals, to an outdoor terrace for a moment of fresh air.

    By offering ease of use, healthy choices to revitalize, and control over the environment, UNC Rex Healthcare’s new Cancer Care facility supports the emotional journey of those affected by cancer makes an impact on the Raleigh community to conquer cancer together.

    Design: BSA LifeStructures
    Contractor: Brasfield & Gorrie
    Photography: Caleb Tkach