Powerful desert landscape harnessed as source of inspiration and healing
Removed from the institutional setting of the acute care hospital, the comprehensive cancer clinic invokes the power of the desert landscape to define it as a place of inspiration and healing. The visual and physical access to the outdoors provides patients and staff at this intimately scaled facility with a connection to the healing power of nature.
Through the integration of the three courtyards into the building’s organisation, the extensive natural desert landscape and the distant views of the mountains, Tucson’s rugged natural beauty has been incorporated into the patients' and staff’s daily experience. Here, the science and art of healing converges; medicine and technology is integrated with a healing environment closely linked to nature.
All elements of the building’s design are intended to relate to the natural landscape. Arizona sandstone, plaster and metal panels are used on the exterior. Trellises and covered entries provide shade from the sun. Interior finishes include natural materials or materials made from natural products, such as stone flooring and wood paneling. The colour palette is neutral earth tones. Interior spaces are washed with soft, indirect light.
At the time UMC purchased the 17 acre site it accommodated facilities that were once a general hospital, then abandoned and in disrepair - an eye sore along a major street in Tucson.
The cancer center project retained an existing two story building that fronted Campbell Avenue. The building was stripped down to its structure, the courtyards were cut into the original floor plate and square footage was added in both the north and south directions.
The cancer programs were originally located at the Health Sciences Campus and had no real identity due to their location in the basement level of a research building. The people in Tucson were largely unaware of its existence and reputation.
When the center opened it transformed the city block along Campbell Avenue into 'a hip jewel in the desert'. The gardens and the soft pallet of the local sand stone are a sharp contrast to the previous abandoned building and dirt lot. There is now an identifiable cancer care program that the community and the region can see and identify with.