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The David H. Koch Center for Cancer Care Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center | New York, New York | 2020

The David H. Koch Center for Cancer Care Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center | New York, New York | 2020

Architects: Perkins Eastman Architects
Associate Architects: Ennead Architects
Interior Architects: MSK Design
Structural Engineers: Thornton Tomasetti
General Contractor: Turner Construction
Client: Memorial Sloan Kettering
Photographers: Andrew Rugge, Chris Coope,  and Demian Neufeld


As NYC’s largest freestanding cancer care center, The David H. Koch Center for Cancer Care at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center creates a new design paradigm for 21st-century cancer care.

The building blends clinical and amenity spaces to create a campus for patients, caregivers, and staff that engages, educates, and reduces tensions and anxieties associated with traditional healthcare environments. The overall goal of The David H. Koch Center for Cancer Care at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is to mitigate the stress and anxiety associated with cancer care in order to enhance patient outcomes.

By asking at every step of the journey, “Are we truly making a difference in healthcare?”—the design of the building’s interior and exterior sought to support the entire patient, not just their cancer. Staffed by approximately 1,300 people on 25 floors, with 231 exam rooms, 110 private infusion rooms, and 37 procedure rooms, the building also includes 16 inpatient beds for patients who may require a short stay.

The center accommodates nearly every aspect of cancer care across numerous specialties under one roof, as well as bone marrow transplantation on an outpatient basis and Phase I clinical trials, enabling investigators to more quickly bring breakthrough treatments to patients.

The 750,000 sf building is an assemblage of smaller-scaled facade elements that breaks the massing into smaller volumes, creating a welcoming building that responds to programmatic needs for openness and privacy.

Pragmatic considerations of floor plate requirements for the high-tech diagnostic imaging environments determined the use of the lower five floors. Sitting above the diagnostic base, the clinical floors are artfully arranged to feel like and function as “neighborhoods” of smaller, more intimate physician practices—supporting collaboration, collegial discussion, and research endeavors for medical staff.

For many patients, this means they can receive multiple services in a single visit, reducing their stress, waiting, and travel time; for clinicians, it enables valuable face-to-face connections with colleagues in different specialties and “coordinated care” that research supports can improve patient outcomes.

Reflecting MSK’s legacy of close collaboration between physicians and scientists, the upper floors comprise the academic offices.

The building skin provides a distinct exterior identity for this world-class institution. The varying vertical fin depths and window sizes respond to solar orientation and internal program requirements. The result is a responsive façade that reduces solar heat gain and glare, while also providing occupants access to an abundance of natural light and expansive views of the East River and the city.

The façade and massing design support MSK’s overarching commitment to provide a welcoming, healing environment that mitigates stress.
A particularly innovative aspect of the building experience is how the facility seeks to play an active role in a patient’s care. Through a curated, hospitality-like environment, meaningful patient- and staff-centered programming, and seamlessly integrated technology including Real-Time Location System (RTLS) devices, the building provides options for where and how patients and staff spend their time—importantly returning control, choice, and freedom back to patients.

Built on a river-adjacent brownfield (a former sanitation garage on a polluted site) abutting Manhattan’s busy FDR Drive, the LEED-Gold building’s systems are reinforced by design and construction features that prioritize patient safety, optimize efficiency, and can operate even in a 500-year flood event—lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy while the building was in design.

Combined, these flood mitigation and resiliency strategies have made the building a self-sufficient island—and have created a new benchmark for sustainability and resiliency in a healthcare facility.


The David H. Koch Center for Cancer Care
The David H. Koch Center for Cancer Care
The David H. Koch Center for Cancer Care

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