Setting a New Standard For Cancer Center Design

Posted by on Jun 25, 2020 in Featured Artists and Inspirations
Setting a New Standard For  Cancer Center Design

Chemotherapy is changing and unknowns exist on all levels of how treatment will be delivered in years to come. To ensure new chemotherapy/infusion spaces remain useful, healthcare designers may approach a new cancer center design differently. For example, the first collaboration between Mary Frazier and Suzen Heeley, MSK Westchester in West Harrison, N.Y., launched a 9-year partnership and inspired design that has set a new standard for cancer center design.

Flex Space

When planning Westchester, the collaborative duo recognized that chemotherapy was changing and unknowns existed on how treatment might be delivered in years to come. It’s very likely that it will all be done at home. To ensure chemotherapy/infusion spaces would remain useful, they were—and continue to be—built using demountable partitions. Additionally, a single room module of 120 square feet for both exam/consult rooms and offices, first introduced at Westchester, is now the norm to allow easy reassignment of space in the future.

Chairs with Arms

Care environments have also evolved to answer the needs of today’s cancer patients and treatment protocols. Patients in the ambulatory environment are much more acute than they’ve ever been. Waiting spaces need to be able to accommodate several wheelchairs at once. Along the same lines, seats must have arms to assist patients as they sit and stand.

Tele-Triage Program

Frazier and Heeley created a shell space to support an emerging “tele-triage” program, allowing patients who have concerns in off-hours to call into a clinician who can direct them to an appropriate next step for care.

Clinical Trial Space

Personalized medicine—treating a person’s genetic makeup rather than simply the disease—is taking a front seat in cancer treatment at MSK. That said, clinical trial spaces are included in some of these ambulatory care facilities. Clinical IT components are beefed up to track the data collected which means a data center was built to support it.

The Results

All of the original elements Heeley and Frazier introduced on MSK Westchester continue to be delivered today. Ultimately the goal of improving the patient experience, particularly in clinical spaces was achieved. It’s striking a balance between providing a space where clinicians have everything they need close at hand and creating a non-threatening environment that makes patients feel comfortable.

Marie Wikoff is the creator of Wikoff Design Studio based out of Reno, Nevada. Her expertise in healthcare design has helped modernize healthcare organizations locally, regionally, and internationally, improving patient experience and outcomes. Her credentials include Evidence-Based Design Accreditation and Certification (EDAC), American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designer (CHID), the National Council of Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) and LEED AP. Contact Marie Wikoff


Jennifer Kovacs Silvis. “Architecture.” HCD Magazine Elevate And Evolve Comments, 2020,

Photo – Provided by Halkin/Mason Photographer, LLC

The photo shows a chemotherapy/infusion rooms at MSK Nassau which was another collaboration between Frazier and Heeley.

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