Project: ProCure Treatment Center in Seattle
Located on a two-acre site at the gateway to the Northwest Hospital Medical Campus, the SCCA Proton Therapy ProCure Center is the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, critical to meeting the needs of an area where 72,000 people were diagnosed with cancer in 2011. This center, expected to be operational spring 2013, will be capable of treating 1,200 patients per year with tumors of the head and neck, central nervous system, and prostate. It’s one of a growing number of ProCure prototype facilities.
Designed by Cambridge, MA-based Tsoi/Kobus & Associates, who created seven of 10 facilities now operating in the U.S., each prototype is architecturally similar, with minor geographic subtleties. The idea is one of instant brand recognition, says Jocelyn Frederick, AIA, akin to a memorable and positive boutique hospitality experience. ProCure’s goal is to increase patients’ access to proton treatment and keep them closer to home and loved ones. However, says Frederick, should lengthy travel be necessary for a patient, each facility is the same. This helps patients feel comfortable and know the facility well, regardless of where in the nation they are traveling to receive treatment.
And similar design is also more efficient. The rapid pace of innovation in proton therapy demands ingenuity to accommodate the substantial shielding requirements, while simultaneously creating a healing environment for patients, says associate principal Jonathan Cohen. The essence of proton therapy facility design is successfully creating an environment that promotes healing while meeting the technical challenges of radiation shielding and massive equipment – proton particles must be “accelerated” inside an enormous instrument called a cyclotron, which is large, heavy, and must be well-shielded; the gantry, which holds magnets that balance the huge beam that delivers the proton, is a ferris wheel-like structure, two-and-a-half stories high and 30 feet in diameter, designed so it can be angled and pointed in any direction.
The appropriate use of color, texture, indigenous natural materials, and furnishings create a welcoming setting that is less institutional and more reassuring, says Frederick. Stress and disorientation in a heavily shielded facility are mitigated by introducing natural light into patient waiting and circulation spaces. Places of respite – anticipating the distinct physical and psychological needs of patients, spouses, and families – are among the most important issues we considered.