Client: Cooper University Healthcare
Location: Camden, USA
Completion date: 2013
Haley C. Driscoll, IIDA
The Art Partnership Inc.
The MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper University in Camden, NJ, improves the patient experience through a holistic approach to patient-centered care. Designed by architecture firm Francis Cauffman, the 103,000-sq.-ft., four-story, $100 million treatment center opened in 2013. The center combines high-powered efficiency and effectiveness in a calming, healing environment, including a rooftop tranquility garden, and the “Tree of Life,” a soothing feature wall in the lobby. Its design brings progressive outpatient cancer treatment services under one roof, which makes it easier for interdisciplinary specialists to communicate and collaborate, resulting in a higher level of care.
Studies show that representational nature in art reduces stress and anxiety at mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional levels. Francis Cauffman worked with consultants, the Art Partnership, on the Art for Healing Initiative. The goal of the initiative was to positively impact patient outcomes through the use of art and nature. The center features more than 100 pieces of art from local Southern New Jersey artists, each carefully selected to create a healing environment. The works were selected based on the theme “urban spa” to connect a sense of rejuvenation with the urban location of the center.
The integration of the Art for Healing Initiative into the interior and landscape design of the project was a significant consideration. A dramatic sculptural feature in the lobby, the “Tree of Life”, has branches and resin cube leaves in a stepped, relief pattern, set on a backlit translucent panel. LED lights in soothing, gently shifting colors illuminate the tree, giving the impression of moving leaves. Francis Cauffman worked with Langan’s Landscape Architecture Planning Group to create a rooftop Tranquility Garden which offers patients and families a scenic, healing space to rest and relax. Serene, attractive plantings and flowers surround the building.
Francis Cauffman partnered with the Art Partnership and a committee from Cooper University Health Care to create the Art for Healing initiative. Together, the group developed the concept and direction of the initiative. In addition, Francis Cauffman met with focus groups of past patients, whose comments shaped the design team’s understanding of an ideal healing environment. The team worked hard to find artists and select works that are meaningful to the region and the experience of the patients, and that enhance the aesthetics of the space. One of the works was developed as an artistic collaboration, twenty-two artists each created an individual square that together created one large installation representing the spirit of collaboration of care of the new center.
The new MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper is located on an urban campus. Another theme of the design is “oasis.” It manifests itself in the campus landscaping that includes a spectacular rooftop garden. This, in its own way, is another artistic expression. The landscape is lush and sophisticated in its design. It provides the living landscape painting that is changeable with the seasons. Views of the gardens are experienced throughout the building, providing the connection to nature that is almost primal in its ability to calm the soul during what can be a very stressful time.