Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center

Project Overview

  • Project Name: Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center
  • Location: Dallas
  • Total floor area: 467,000 square feet
  • Number of floors: 10
  • Construction cost: $127 million
  • Groundbreaking date: May 2009
  • Opening date: March 2011

Project Team

  • Owner and Project Manager: Duke Realty
  • Tenant: Baylor Health Care System
  • Architect and Interior Designer: Perkins+Will
  • General Contractor: MEDCO Construction
  • MEP Engineering: CCRD Partners
  • Civil Engineering: Raymond L. Goodson Jr. Inc. consultion engineers
  • Structural Engineering: L.A. Fuess Partners Inc.
  • Medical Equipment Planning: RTKL Associates Inc.
  • Landscaping: Newman, Jackson, Bieberstein Inc.

When Baylor Health Care System's Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center, Dallas, first opened its doors in 1976, "only one out of every three patients who got a diagnosis of cancer survived their cancer," says Alan Miller, M.D., the health system's chief of oncology. "Today, it's one out of every two patients."

Dedicated Baylor researchers and physicians have contributed to this remarkable progress in cancer care.

But while outcomes have improved, the number of cases in the Dallas area has risen, and this number is projected to increase significantly in the next 20 years. "We were literally out of space," for patients, physicians and support services at the existing cancer center, says Donna L. Bowers, RHIA, CHP, vice president for oncology, Baylor Health Care System.

The original Sammons Cancer Center facility, which has been renovated for use as a cancer inpatient tower, devoted approximately 175,000 square feet to outpatient care. The new, adjacent outpatient center covers 467,000 square feet, with room for more services, better care and an improved patient experience.

Distinctive design

The Dallas office of architecture, interiors and planning firm Perkins+Will designed the new building. Its exterior includes light-colored concrete panels that match the exterior palette of existing campus structures; the concrete serves as background to glass and metal panels that give the center "an updated and more appealing look," says Tom Reisenbichler, AIA, LEED AP, managing director, Perkins+

The building's curved front creates a clearly identified gateway to the campus that seems to embrace patients as they arrive.

The building's curved front creates a clearly identified gateway to the campus that seems to embrace patients as they arrive. The curve continues along an enclosed bridge that links the new outpatient center to the cancer inpatient tower, a research tower and a campus parking garage.

The lobby opens onto a two-story atrium backed by a marble wall. Light colors contrast with dark wood tones for a contemporary appearance. Light blue, similar to the health system's signature color, adds a soothing, uplifting note to the interiors.

Courtney Johnston, IIDA, LEED AP, director of design for interiors, Perkins+Will, says the center sets a new standard for design at Baylor, one that matches the level of care provided by the health system.

"A high level of attention was paid to the quality of materials, and all the materials are healthy for the patient," adds Reisenbichler. "Particularly with a cancer center, the goal is to eliminate any carcinogens from the environment." The project team is seeking Gold certification for the facility under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) core and shell 2.0 rating system.

A broad stairwell behind the main reception desk, along with a nearby elevator lobby, draws attention to the second-level concourse, where many patient amenities and the center's connecting bridge are located.

A variety of seating areas along the concourse provide patients and family members with a range of options, from private spaces to those that allow for more public interaction. Other amenities include a coffee shop, a dining area with an outdoor terrace and abundant power and data access, a gift shop and boutique that cater to cancer patients, and a meditation room. A nondenominational chapel featuring a striking blue offset cross is located prominently near the entry on the first floor. The center's Virginia R. Cvetko Patient Education and Support Center provides space for a large number of services, such as cooking classes, support groups and survivor celebrations.

The bridge between the outpatient center and inpatient tower is "a benefit both to the doctors and the patients," says Miller, because it allows doctors "to do a lot more." The proximity of the buildings enables doctors to transition quickly between hospital and clinic functions throughout the day as needed.

Treatment and research

For wayfinding purposes, a different nature concept identifies each of the upper clinic floors. Identical ceiling finish treatments and porcelain tiles help patients and visitors to locate each floor's elevator lobby easily. The reception desk of each clinic is positioned close to the elevators, to reduce walking distances.

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Medical services provided at the center include radiation therapy, lymphedema services, outpatient chemotherapy, outpatient radiology and a blood and marrow transplant program. Physical rehabilitation, speech therapy, occupational therapy, psychological services and counseling for cancer patients also are offered. And the building includes space for cardiac, dental and fitness clinics staffed by professionals who are familiar with the specific needs of these patients.

"To find specialists who understand the impact and the interplay between cancer and other diseases" is key to effective treatment and research, Miller says. "So having that on-site is just a tremendous asset."

The new facility is helping the health system to expand its cancer clinical research program. Miller says, "Being in this building is going to give us the ability to double the number of trials we do and the number of patients we impact in Phase I trials."

Phase I trials, which involve the newest treatment agents available, will be conducted in the facility's Innovative Clinical Trials Center.

'A place that gives hope'

With continued advances in care, such as precision medicine, which targets specific defects in an individual patient's tumor, Miller says he thinks in another 10 to 20 years the odds will have improved to the point that two out of every three patients diagnosed with cancer will survive the disease.

It is a positive outlook underscored by the design of the Sammons Cancer Center. Bowers, a cancer survivor herself, describes the new, light-filled facility as "a very positive building. It's a place that gives hope."

Amy Eagle is a freelance writer based in Homewood, Ill., who specializes in health care-related topics. She is a regular contributor to Health Facilities Management.

Sidebar - Easing the patient's burden

We're never going to make cancer easy to deal with," acknowledges Alan Miller, M.D., chief of oncology, Baylor Health Care System. "But by having the patient come to an environment that's warm, welcoming and meets all their needs, not just their medical and treatment needs … it makes it a little bit easier."
He adds that patients who feel comfortable are more likely to return to complete their treatment, for a greater chance of success.

The design of Baylor's new Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center is "very attuned to reducing the burden on the patient," says Tom Reisenbichler, AIA, LEED AP, managing director, Perkins+Will.

To make the building easy for patients to navigate, the architects worked to ensure the walk from the front door of the cancer center to the reception desk of each clinic is no longer than 100 feet: 50 feet from the main entrance to the elevator lobby, plus 50 feet from the elevator to the clinic. This was no easy task in a 467,000-square-foot facility but, as Reisenbichler notes, "[chemotherapy and radiation patients] are in a weakened condition and don't really have the strength or endurance to walk very far." To increase accessibility, elevators from the underground parking garage lead directly to the clinic floors.

Visual cues in the clinic spaces help patients move through the treatment process as independently as possible, to prevent them from feeling like "herded cattle," says Reisenbichler. A variety of waiting and treatment areas are designed to provide privacy, community or respite, whichever a patient needs.

The infusion bays, for example, are arranged in pods of eight to 12 chairs, each screened by curtains that can be pulled back or not depending on whether a patient prefers solitude or social support on any given day.

Sidebar - Enabling a better approach

Most days at Baylor Health Care System's Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center begin with a multidisciplinary conference in the new outpatient building's 10th-floor conference center. Around 250 such conferences are held each year, at which physicians can discuss complicated cases and get input "not just from one or two physicians, but this whole spectrum of cancer experts, to help guide the treatment for that patient in the best possible fashion," says Alan Miller, M.D., chief of oncology, Baylor Health Care System.

Miller says having space available for regular, organized reviews enables the center to offer "a true multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment," one that provides more and better options for patient care than any individual physician might develop on his or her own.

The conference center comprises several meeting rooms and teaching areas; a business center where physicians, patients or visitors can access computers, printers, fax machines and similar equipment; a large auditorium; and an outdoor plaza.

As a site for special events, the conference center is designed to be singularly elegant. "That was a floor where we could really dress things up," says Courtney Johnston, IIDA, LEED AP, director of design, Perkins+Will. Dramatic starburst lights help lend a sense of modern glamour, and pendant lighting in the restrooms adds to a feeling of gracious hospitality.

An undulating acoustic wood ceiling in the auditorium is designed to provide an even level of sound throughout the space. The auditorium's backlit sidewalls impart a soft glow. "One of the things we didn't want to do is interrupt that great ceiling with too much lighting," says Tom Reisenbichler, AIA, LEED AP, managing director, Perkins+Will.

The center's outdoor plaza provides "a fantastic panoramic view of the city," making it an ideal location for receptions, he adds.

Sidebar - SPEC SHEET

Principal Design Materials Acoustical ceilings and suspension grid: 9Wood Inc., Armstrong World Industries Inc., Rulon International and USG Corp.
Aluminum composite material: Alcoa Inc.'s Alcoa Architectural Products Cabinet hardware: Blum Inc. and Grass America Carpet: Atlas Carpet Mills Inc., Bentley Prince Street Inc., Constantine, DesignWeave, Interface Inc., J&J Industries, Karastan, Mohawk Carpet, Shaw Industries Group and Tandus Flooring Inc. Cast stone: Dallas Cast Stone Curtainwall: Kawneer North America Door hardware: C.R. Laurence Co. and Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies Doors: Curries (metal doors), Overhead Door Corp.'s Horton Automatics div. (entrances), Lone Star X-Ray Shielding Inc. (neutron shielding doors for linear accelerator and high-dose rooms), Marathon High Performance Doors and Overhead Door Corp. (overhead doors), and VT Industries Inc. (wood doors) Floor tile: Concept Surfaces, Crossville Inc., Daltile, Pantheon, Royal Mosa and Stonepeak Ceramics Inc. Glass entrances: Arch Aluminum & Glass Glass: Oldcastle Building­Envelope (formerly Oldcastle Glass) Lighting: A-Light, Finelite Inc., Innovative Lighting Inc., Kramer Lighting, Philips Day-Brite and Zumtobel Limestone: TexaStone Quarries Louvers: Construction Specialties Inc. Marble: Crema Marfil Metal composite wall system: Centria Paint: IdeaPaint, Master Coating Technologies and Sherwin-Williams Co. Paneling: Decoustics Plastic laminate: Abet Laminati, Formica Group, Lamin-Art Inc., Nevamar and Wilsonart International Resiliant flooring: Alto Limited, Armstrong World Industries Inc., Constantine, Johnsonite, Lonseal, LG Hausys Floors, Mannington Mills Inc., Mondo, nora systems, Parterre Flooring Systems, Teragren and Zaxxon Roof pavers, outdoor patio: Wausau Tile Roofing: Firestone Building Products Special surfacing: 3form and Mega Stone Wall tile: AlysEdwards, Casa Dolce Casa, Casas Mood, Daltile, Interceramic, Interstyle Ceramic & Glass and Mixed-Up Mosaics Corp. Wallcoverings: Innovations, Koroseal Interior Products Group, J. Josephson Inc., Lanark Wallcovering, Maharam, MDC Wallcoverings, Patty Madden Inc., Source One Wallcovering and Wolf-Gordon Principal Furnishings Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: Avonite Surfaces, Caesarstone, Cambria, Cosentino USA, DuPont, Greenline Industries Inc., MEDCO Millwork and Meganite Solid Surface Cafeteria seating: MEDCO Millwork (banquette seating) Major medical equipment CT and PET/CT scanners, MRI imaging equipment, nuclear medicine equipment and X-ray equipment: General Electric Co. High-dose room and linear accelerator with brain lab: Varian Medical Systems Inc. Infrastructure Building management system, centrifugal chillers and HVAC (misc.): Trane Electric equipment: Square D by Schneider Electric Elevators: ThyssenKrupp Fire safety: Simplex­Grinnell Generator: Kohler Co. Kitchen equipment: Ansul, Bally Block Co., Captive-Aire Systems, Equipex Inc., Hobart, ITW Food Equipment Group's Vulcan div., InterMetro Industries Corp., Structural Concepts, Traulsen and True Proximity reader: Farpointe Data Inc. Security: Galaxy Control Systems Water heater: PVI Industries

Information provided by Baylor Health Care System and Perkins+Will