Scully Welsh Cancer Center
Situated on the Treasure Coast, sunny Vero Beach, Florida is known for housing both seasonal residents and extended-stay travelers. When local medical facility, Indian River Medical Center (Indian River), decided to renovate its cancer wing – Scully-Welsh Cancer Center – they focused specifically on the needs of this community.
“In the past, when someone received a diagnosis, they ‘went home’ to get treatment,” noted the project’s architect L. Kent Doss, principal, Array Architects, Philadelphia. “Indian River’s goal of providing ‘The Right Care, Right Here’ means its patients can get world-class care without leaving the region.” With this in mind, the building’s aesthetic needed to focus on what brought patients to the area in the first place – the natural beauty. After reviewing several cladding products, the design team knew VintageWood from Nichiha USA was the perfect solution.
Drawing inspiration from esteemed healthcare design researcher Roger Ulrich, and his work exploring the relationship of nature to healing, the design team sought to integrate principals of ecotherapy – the idea that wellness and healing can be improved through interaction with nature. Critical to this strategy is utilizing building materials that convey sensitivity and calmness during the healing process.
“The design concept was all about creating an environment that had a strong connection with nature for the patients,” said Doss. “As we started the [material] selection process, we focused on a simple and familiar palette that included local coral stone, glass that provided transparency to blur the lines between the interior and exterior spaces and the warmth of wood… we wanted to create an architecture that was natural, familiar and touchable.”
Located on the Atlantic Coast, real wood siding was not an option. Doss and his designers knew fiber cement was viable, but hadn’t had luck with it in the past – until they discovered Nichiha.
“Because this is such a harsh, tropical climate, we knew right at the beginning real wood was not the answer,” said Doss. “I’ve used a lot of fiber cements in the past and was never really satisfied. A lot of them are pretty low tech and put a lot of limits on design possibilities. We decided on Nichiha after we started looking at the system and the way it was installed – both the aesthetics and durability were what we were looking for.”
Ultimately, the design team used Nichiha VintageWood panels in Cedar to create “wood-like ribbons” that seamlessly interface with the building’s two-story glass atrium and establish a design language that is used throughout the interior. The result not only creates a technically-efficient envelope, but also achieves the natural look Array Architects intended for the facility.
The construction team also agreed that Nichiha was a good fit for the aesthetics and compared to other fiber cement brands, did not have to be stained upon purchase – saving installation time. “With Nichiha, when you receive your siding, it already has its final finished surface so you don’t have to paint it,” explained Rick MacDonald, project manager, Proctor Construction Company, Inc., Vero Beach, Florida. “We’ve never seen that before.”
Since opening its doors, the Scully-Welsh Cancer Center has received much praise – both for outstanding care and for the beauty of the building. “The Nichiha product worked really well and the building has received great reception from the community. It was really important that we didn’t just have plants – the architecture became a supporting piece of the overall feeling that you’re in nature,” said Doss. “The client was really committed to providing that atmosphere for their patients and great quality care.”
Last year, the center even won a bronze award in Modern Healthcare’s Design Awards and received quite a bit of press including a feature in local publication, Vero Beach Magazine. With help from Nichiha’s VintageWood, Indian River achieved the look they wanted to bring to the community and Doss has plans to continue using Nichiha cladding in future healthcare projects. “Nichiha has become an important part of our materials palette these days,” said Doss. “It just fits so well with that relationship to nature and natural materials…it’s great for healthcare environments.”
“We decided on Nichiha after we started looking at the system and the way it was installed – both the aesthetics and durability were what we were looking for.”