A healing architecture : a women's oncology center

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Behounek, Jan-Marie
Wyman, John E.
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Thesis (B. Arch.)
College of Architecture and Planning
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The thesis is an exploration of how architecture can positively affect the medical experience. Given facility through a comprehensive women's oncology center, the project evolved from the observed gender bias in medicine and a recognition of the need to more heavily address women's health issues. The thesis is intended to respond to the needs of a women who have been ignored as a result of social oppression, targeting specifically the gender bias in medicine and the medical profession. The center is intended to celebrate the health of the patient and the stature of women, recognizing past discrimination and presenting a willingness to transform the future through its program. The physical response architecture is to create an awareness of the need for equality and all-inclusion in medical treatment as well as the built environment... .essentially to make the public aware of a need to change their attitudes about the medical environment and medical care for women.Using a women's oncology center as the vehicle to explore an alternative to the medical facility presents issues both on an architectural level and social level. Socially, the project has examined the basic structure of the medical profession, gender bias in medicine, gender bias in the built environment, and education of the public. On a more architectural level, the thesis is intended to explore the issues of context, space programming for a diverse user group, urban and pedestrian scales, and how architecture can be manipulated to create a more therapeutic environment and to demystify the medical experience.With a comprehensive approach and integration of a major medical campus, the facility focuses on the benefits of on site medical research, provides alternative forms of treatment, and promotes overall wellness of the cancer patient. The site is located on the Northwestern University Chicago campus as a mediation point between the urban context and Lake Michigan. The center can have a physical connection to Northwestern Memorial Hospital to share existing necessary functions and provide direct access for emergency situations.The program for the treatment center of the facility is unique with its integration of conventional and alternative treatments. The oncology center provides the integration of research facilities, diagnostic services, conventional and alternative treatments, and provisions for expansion into inpatient care within a program of approximately 300,000 square feet. Cancer research facilities are incorporated to house studies of women’s health, including such studies as the Women’s Health Initiative grant designed to examine the health of 160,000 women from various racial and ethnic backgrounds over a fifteen year period. The cancer research portion has a projected square footage of approximately 100,000 square feet, including 40-50% support space. The treatment center comprises approximately 50,000 square feet. It is through the treatment center that transparency and opacity are considered to visually link the patient to the medical to demystify the medical experience and the personal perception of space is more heavily considered. The education center serves the patient, physician, student, and public through an open lounge/library, family services, daycare, lecture spaces, auditorium, and administration. As an additional 50,000 square feet, the focus of the education portion is the circulation path, or pedestrian street street The pedestrian street, the main circulation, is celebrated on the upper levels of the treatment and research portions as well as the lower education levels. The street is the unifying factor of the facility, bridging the university community, patient community, and physician community. Serving patients, public, physicians, and researchers the street promotes a strong wellness community dedication to the treatment of the patient through the integration of all disciplines. The elements of program for spaces and built form are based on a desire for a balanced and holistic lifestyle.