March 1, 2010

Feeling Right at Home: Jamie Drake’s First Healthcare Commission

They seem to be polar opposites: the candy colors of residences by Interior Design Hall of Fame member Jamie Drake and the all-white environment typical of health-care facilities. Yet that didn’t stop radiation oncologist Scot Ackerman and his wife, Alexandra, whose house Drake Design Associates had previously decorated, from bringing the firm back to expand one of First Coast Oncology’s locations in Jacksonville, Florida. The 12,000-square-foot addition is not only Drake’s first health-care commission but also his first ground-up commercial project, period.

“We did a smattering of contract work in the past, say one project every two to three years. Now, we have at least four a year,” Drake notes. “They’ve come up because of the circles I’ve built over the decades.”

Speaking of circles, embracing curves appear throughout. In the main waiting area, a pair of C-shape sofas face each other beneath the celestial frosted-acrylic rings of pendant fixtures. The nurse station, a white desk 15 feet in diameter, benefits from the sun shining through five round skylights. Adding a residential feel are sea-foam green carpet, upholstery in cobalt blue and cyclamen pink, and the oak slats of the cathedral ceiling.

“We carefully assessed everything to make sure it wasn’t disturbing in any way,” Drake says. And he considered the staff as much as the patients. Take the physics lab, previously two dark, cramped rooms. Now seven staff members work in one large, sunlit space enlivened by colors and shapes that Drake calls a “cubist assemblage.”

The designer declares himself a fan of complexity of every kind: “I dislike stagnation. I love challenges—branching out into health care stretches me and exposes my work to a new demographic.” He’s already planning the renovation of a First Coast Oncology branch nearby.

Photography by Neil Rashba.

: Mark Holmquist; Hayley Singleton

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