Henry Ford Health System (Detroit) has one of the largest cancer programs in the state of Michigan with its Henry Ford Cancer Institute treating nearly 10,000 new cancer patients a year. Recognizing that cancer cases are expected to continue increasing, the institute set out to create a new comprehensive cancer care that brought together services under one roof.

The new 187,000-square-foot Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion opened in January, across the street from Henry Ford’s flagship hospital in Detroit. The facility features a patient-centered healing environment for ambulatory cancer treatment, precision medicine, clinical trials, research, and enhanced support services with an infusion center, imaging and laboratory services, physical and occupational therapy, and a cancer-specific urgent care. In addition, the project offers holistic wellness for cancer patients by incorporating on-site exercise and fitness areas, nutrition planning and coaches, yoga and Eastern medicine programs, and cooking classes.

Working with SmithGroup (Detroit), the Henry Ford Cancer Institute rebranded its interior environments, pushing to develop an immersive and patient-centric experience that was less clinical in aesthetic than traditional cancer care environments. The exterior architecture features varied massing, contextual architectural references to the historic campus, and color and depth of detail to create a layered, human scale.

Inside, a curved, monumental stair in the 30-foot-tall lobby serves a key feature and a symbolic milestone for patients—at the beginning of treatment patients lack the strength to climb them, but by the end of their treatment ascending the stairs is a symbol of hope and triumph over cancer.

An extensive use of light, warm, and natural colors and materials are used throughout and complement dedicated patient spaces, including lounges. The facility also offers retail cancer services, including a pharmacy, and food services specifically designed to meet the dietary needs and tastes of cancer patients.


Project details:

Facility name: Henry Ford Cancer Institute Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion

Location: Detroit

Completion date: January 2021

Owner: Henry Ford Health System

Total building area: 187,000 sq. ft.

Total construction cost: $155 million

Cost/sq. ft.: $828.88

Medical planning, architecture, interior architecture, engineering (MEP and structural, lighting design, landscape architecture, and environmental branding: SmithGroup

General contractor: Turner Construction

Skywalk architect: SDG Associates

Parking deck architect: Rich & Associates Parking Consultants

Patient experience and organizational alignment consulting: Enviah