It’s not what you’d expect to find behind a storefront window, but that’s kind of the point. The Brooklyn Infusion Center, an outpost of New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, occupies a shotgun storefront building on the busy Atlantic Avenue corridor of downtown Brooklyn. The lobby features a gallery of artwork from local artists.

Inside, cancer patients undergo treatments in an open-plan, comfortable, and surprisingly light-filled space. “Light was a real challenge,” says Jan Willemse, partner, ZGF Architects. “The shape of the building, the low ceilings, and with just the windows at the storefront—how do you create a quality environment without natural light?”

The International Interior Design Association (IIDA) awarded the center its Best in Category award for Ambulatory Care Centers in its new Healthcare Interior Design Competition , in large part for the innovations employed within this unique situation. “They really maximized the space with continuity, flow, and function,” says juror Debbie Gregory, Smith Seckman Reid Inc. “The lighting accents are subtle and effective.”

Willemse takes particular pride in what his team calls the garden zone, an area modeled in part after New York’s pocket parks, situated between the individual treatment pods. Each pod opens onto the zone via a sliding art-glass door. Patients can interact as much or as little as they want with the garden, opening the door for a little connectivity or taking their IV poles out with them to relax at a table or near the waterfall with visitors or other patients.

“I think what’s really successful is the variable degree of physical and psychological connectivity available in the zone,” Willemse says. “The patients have a lot of control. It was all very intentionally designed, to make it feel like a place that’s part of your community, a place you can take possession of, and even an extension of your home.”

For a breakdown of all the winning projects in IIDA's Healthcare Interior Design Competition, please see "Winners Announced in IIDA Healthcare Interior Design Competition". For an in-depth look at the Best in Competition winner Bayt Abdullah Children’s Hospice, please see Children’s Hospice Creates Normalcy Through Family-Friendly Design. To read more about The Summit, the Best in Category winner for Senior Living and Residential Health, Care, and Support Facilities, please see "The Summit Squashes Traditional Perceptions of Senior Living."