The MD Anderson Cancer Center on the Banner Gateway campus in Gilbert represents a new era of hope, treatment and care for cancer patients and their families.
And like many Banner Health facilities, the MD Anderson Cancer Center was designed and built with patient care in mind. Using the proven model called “evidence based design,” the center’s design is specifically built with healing and comfort in mind. Features such as a healing garden, a bistro-style café, a community learning center and even a boutique offering wigs and other personal items all work in concert to provide the best possible experience for cancer patients and their families. The facility, which opens Sept. 26, was designed by Cannon Design and built by DPR Construction — both leading firms with significant experience designing and building health care facilities.
The design also seamlessly merges the “high-tech” world of medicine with the “high touch” needs of cancer patients to provide care in a holistic way. Natural light, art work, water features and views of nature all work in harmony at the center. In addition, patients receiving chemotherapy and other infusion treatments will get this care in a bright, open environment with floor-to-ceiling windows that provide mountain views — patients can even receive treatments on outdoor balconies while enjoying the Arizona weather.
“We are here to offer hope, comfort and industry-leading care to cancer patients and their families,” said Pam Nenaber, CEO of Banner Gateway Medical Center and the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center. “The design of our facility will enable us to serve the community well.”
A Medical and Architectural Marvel
Several years in the making, the 133,000 SF, $109M state-of-the-art facility will deliver an unprecedented level of cancer care in Arizona. The center is a collaboration between Phoenix-based Banner Health and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The center is MD Anderson’s first full clinical extension outside of Houston and will support the multi-disciplinary care approach pioneered at MD Anderson, continually ranked as a leading provider of cancer care.
“Building on an existing occupied campus can be challenging,” said Hamilton Espinosa, national healthcare specialist for DPR Construction. “With all projects, we work through phasing and logistics plans to ensure that construction does not impact operations, paying special attention to traffic and emergency vehicle operations.
“One of the unique elements of the building is what we call ‘the Lantern of Hope,’ a three-and-a-half story architectural feature at the main entrance. Made of Gore Tenara architectural fabric, which is the same fabric used for the retractable roof over Centre Court at Wimbledon, and cut aluminum panel, the feature lights up akin to a ‘beacon of hope’ and includes a water feature underneath to serve as a place for reflection.
The Lantern of Hope was built by Chandler-based Kovach Inc., a nationwide exterior cladding contractor. Kovach provided the aluminum panels that make up the lantern’s distinctive silhouette. Starting with 30,000 pounds of raw aluminum, the panels took shape in Pennsylvania where they were milled into 38 massive plates. They were then transported to Minnesota where each one was cut into a unique pattern using a computer controlled high pressure water jet cutting tool.
Upon arrival in the Valley, each panel received structural fixtures necessary to mount them onto the lantern’s framework. As a final step, the panels were finished with a copper slag blast treatment to give them their final appearance, each weighing more than 700 pounds. The structure, which mirrors branch patterns found on the palo verde tree, rises nearly 60 feet above the center’s open-air entry area.
The design also presented an opportunity for Cannon to showcase its expertise in the project.
“Designing for a cancer patient varies quite a bit from designing for other typical healthcare patients,” said David Polzin, one of the design and planning leaders. “A cancer patient can access care over 100 times during the first year following diagnosis for surgery, radiation treatment, chemotherapy, physician visits, imaging scans, etc.
“When we first started this project, the client team was considering locating the cancer center on one of their downtown urban hospital campuses which would have been challenging for patients to access. During project, the client agreed that locating the cancer center on the Banner Gateway campus in Gilbert would provide better access for patients.”
The cancer center is sited and designed as a standalone building on the campus to provide convenience for patient access, Polzin said. A guiding principle for the building design was to merge the “high tech” with the “high touch” needs of cancer patients and their families. The building design includes simple wayfinding on each of the three floors, along with orientation to the desert landscape. For radiation patients who come for treatment over the course of 30 days in a row, convenient parking is located directly outside the center.
For infusion/chemotherapy patients whose treatment can last anywhere from two hours up to eight hours, the infusion center is located on the top floor with views to the mountains.
The Future is Now
The Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center will also inject some economic muscle into the state. Besides employing hundreds in well-paying health care jobs, the center is already attracting other health care and related industries.
A major hotel chain is planning to open a hotel nearby and other retail spaces are planned and in the works. The cancer center adds to a growing bio-medical cluster in Gilbert while town officials have been busy pushing the synergies health care operators bring to the region.
“The new Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center represents a major milestone towards our strategic goal of becoming a regional and national leader within the rapidly advancing life science industry,” Gilbert Mayor John Lewis said. “We’ve established new services, resources, and incentives to enhance our life science and business environment and attract organizations that will have a positive impact on our future economic growth.”
The Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center’s three-story outpatient facility will employ roughly 250 staff and 70 specially trained physicians. There are 30 multi-specialty clinic exam rooms, nine radiation oncology exam rooms and 40 infusion therapy stations. In addition, 76 inpatient rooms at Banner Gateway will be dedicated to cancer patient care. The center is the first of three phases — later plans call for an additional 200 SF expansion.
For more information about the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, visit MD Anderson Cancer Center’s website.