Since 1996, Maggie’s Centres have rejected the typical look and feel of healthcare facilities in favor of bright, unconventional buildings that emphasize social gatherings and private contemplations while introducing gardens into the everyday lives of cancer patients. From Sept. 13 to Jan.15, 2015, the Heinz Architectural Center at the Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) will host “Maggie’s Centres: A Blueprint for Cancer Care,” an exhibit offering a glimpse into how teams led by Frank Gehry, FAIA; Rem Koolhaas, Hon. FAIA; Richard Rogers, Hon. FAIA; Piers Gough; and Steven Holl, FAIA, undertake these priorities in their designs. Organized by the New York School of Interior Design, and selected by Heinz Architectural Center curator Raymund Ryan, the presentation will exemplify how the five centers throughout the U.K. put community support and emphasis on the individual at the forefront of healthcare building design.
The exhibition features models, photographs, original drawings, and videos to illustrate each center’s individual atmosphere. To reiterate the informalities of the approach to cancer care found in Maggie’s Centres, the exhibit itself encourages museum visitors to lie back and engage with the content while lounging in household furniture provided by Orla Kiely House.
While undergoing cancer treatment at West General Hospital in Edinburgh, Maggie’s Centres founder Maggie Keswick Jencks became profoundly aware of the “practical, emotional, and social support” needed by people with cancer as well as their families and friends. During that time, she and husband Charles Jencks, a leading architectural writer and landscape designer, worked to develop “a program of support that has been shown to strengthen physical and emotional wellbeing,” ultimately co-founding Maggie’s Centres. Since then, the network of cancer hospitals have grown to 16 physical centers, with six more in development, spreading Maggie Jencks’s philosophy that those with cancer should not “lose the joy of living in the fear of dying.”
Below are the five Maggie’s Centres featured in the exhibition, accompanied by statements from their respective design teams. Ed. Note: These statements have been edited for length.
Architect: Frank Gehry
Landscape design: Arabella Lennox-Boyd
Nineswells Hospital, Dundee, Scotland
The white, cottage-like building with a wavy silver roof is modeled on a traditional Scottish “butt n’ ben” dwelling, a two-roomed home comprised of a living and kitchen area, and a bedroom. The curves and folds of the interior timber structure envelop visitors, with spaces organized around the central social area of the kitchen table. The completed site includes earthwork mounds and a labyrinth designed by landscape designer Arabella Lennox-Boyd, as well as artwork by sculptor Antony Gormley.
Architect: Rem Koolhaas, OMA
Landscape design: Lily Jencks
Gartnavel General Hospital, Glasgow Scotland
The single-level building is designed as a sequence of interconnected L-shapes that create clearly distinguished areas—an arrangement that allows the rooms to flow from one to another. Lily Jencks, daughter of Maggie and Charles, designed the internal courtyard plantings and the wooded areas outside the Centre. Her landscape design provides a buffer zone that clearly distinguishes Maggie’s from its surroundings, and includes a zig-zagging woodland path that leads to a mirrored art installation, a collaboration with Archie McConnel.
Maggie’s West London
Architect: Richard Rogers, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
Landscape design: Dan Pearson
Charing Cross Hospital, London, England
Tucked between a hospital, a parking garage, and a busy road, Maggie’s West London is the most urban Centre built to date. Its roof appears to float over the building, allowing natural light to enter. Working on a domestic scale allowed the architect to focus on every element, from the partitioned walls down to the furniture. These spaces maintain a sense of openness while including private rooms to retreat. The entrance garden and three internal courtyards were designed by Dan Pearson.
Architect: Piers Gough, CZWG Architects
Landscape architect: Envert Studio
Nottingham City Hospital, Nottingham, England
The Centre is nestled within the privacy of trees, and elevated off the hillside to add privacy, preventing people outside from looking in. Inside, the comfortable interiors lead visitors past an office and library to a domestic kitchen. Upstairs the Centre provides small private rooms and a large meeting space. The interiors were designed by fashion designer Paul Smith. Using images from the Chelsea Flower Show, he printed original fabrics to upholster furnishings throughout the building, giving the Centre a quirky personality.
Architect: Steven Holl
St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, England
Holl is currently developing proposals for a three-storied, vertically designed space, envisioned as a “vessel within a vessel within a vessel.” The structure is a branching concrete frame. The inner layer is a perforated bamboo design, and the outer layer is a matte white glass with colored glass fragments. The outer layer is organized in horizontal bands, while the concrete structure branches like a hand, each finger signifying a line in a musical staff. Visitors to the Centre will be greeted with a kitchen table in the central atrium space. An open, curved staircase leads to a public roof garden and large areas for group meetings and wellness activities. Throughout the space, the interior characteristics will be shaped by colored light washing the floors and walls, changing by the time of day and season.