News | Published January 11, 2013

The Cancer Pavilion: Architecture and environment have an impact on care

The east wing, the expanded emergency department and the new Lance and Ellen Shaner Cancer Pavilion have architectural and environmental elements that research shows makes a difference in patient healing and patient satisfaction. Important to note is that beginning in 2014 up to 30 percent of a hospital’s Medicare quality score, which influences a hospital’s payments, will be based on patient satisfaction.

An article in November’s Fast Company magazine, "The Best Medicine for Fixing the Modern Hospital," sites a number of large studies, one from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, that verifies that the hospital environment has a direct impact on care. According to the research, sunlight, nature and art, classical music, colored walls and the presence of family members have an impact on patient health that includes the positive benefits of reduction of pain and a more rapid recovery.

The short list below, taken from Building Hope: 2011-2012 Cancer Program Annual Report, and describing the architectural features of the new cancer pavilion, offers a good example of what is now being considered an industry standard in “therapeutic architecture:”

  • A three-story vertical window above a drop off canopy provides a distinctive entrance to the Shaner Cancer Pavilion and a beacon to the community at night.
  • The covered canopy also allows for protected drop off and pick up of patients.
  • A bright atrium entrance, which opens into a grand three-story lobby in which a unique, hanging aluminum sculpture—“Constellation”— is suspended throughout two stories of the lobby. The warm stone walls and curved upper story elements suggest a more peaceful and less “hospital like” environment. Large two story windows allow light to enter into the lobby throughout the day and move playfully over the lobby walls and sculpture.
  • Beautiful views of the bucolic landscape including a stunning view of Mount Nittany.
  • Although housed within the Medical Center, naming the space The Lance and Ellen Shaner Cancer Pavilion, provides a welcoming and familiar association to this particular locale.

For more information about the Shaner Cancer Pavilion, visit