The Eastern Maine Medical Center’s Lafayette Family Cancer Center is home to Cancer Care of Maine and houses outpatient medical oncology, radiation oncology, hematology, and diagnostic services — including a blood laboratory, basic imaging, and PET-CT scanning.
The project provides state-of-the art, patient-centered care in Central Maine, an area noted for its high incidence of cancer. The project is designed to foster healing in a comfortable caring environment and also to integrate with the Maine Institute for Human Genetics and Health, a future tenant.
Evidence-based design in health care facilities has shown that a well-designed facility can aid the healing process. Premised on Maine’s enduring connections to nature, the design concept is inspired by “glacial erratics,” errant rocks often seen scattered throughout the landscape and left in the path of bygone glaciers. The erratic is unusual and unexpected and becomes a positive distraction.
This concept manifests itself in the design as a shift in color or material or shadow: a piece of colored glass in a field of clear glass, a floor paver of Maine granite in a pattern of neutral porcelain tile, or a soffit color painted in an unexpected manner. The positive distraction is intended to have a subliminal calming effect and reduce noxious stimuli.
The benefits of pattern and sequence are found in many aesthetic systems and areas of study such as feng shui, semiotics and the belief that the human mind has the capacity to generate and use concepts through the mediation of signs and pattern. The pattern can become a meditative device during prolonged treatment. A pattern/proportion sequence of 1:2:4 was developed and used throughout the facility, including ceiling tiles, flooring and building cladding. Within this pattern, “erratics” are located to create a positive distraction, if only for a moment.
Every effort was made to provide natural light and views for clients and facility staff. To that end, spaces within the building were located in relation to solar orientation at varying times of day to help individuals stay connected with the environment outside the building.
With a goal of avoiding materials known to cause cancer, VOCs, urea-formaldehyde, PVC, and other irritants were rejected. Materials made of recycled content, with rapidly renewable sources, from local sources and those easily recycled were favored. Low water use fixtures, individual comfort control, and energy efficient systems were also part of the design.