Chris O’Brien Life­house - Syd­ney, Aus­tralia

Modern Healthcare - - DESIGN AWARDS -

TYPE OF FA­CIL­ITY Can­cer cen­ter


CON­STRUC­TION MAN­AGER Brook­field Mul­ti­plex

COM­PLETED Novem­ber 2013

SIZE 430,560 square feet

CON­STRUC­TION COST $233 mil­lion


Dr. Chris O’Brien was the founder of the Syd­ney Head and Neck Can­cer In­sti­tute. He died in June 2009 from a brain tu­mor, but not be­fore us­ing his ex­pe­ri­ence to de­velop a 96-bed in­te­grated can­certreat­ment cen­ter, where out­pa­tient care, clin­i­cal tri­als, re­search, ed­u­ca­tion, com­ple­men­tary ther­a­pies and psy­choso­cial support for pa­tients could be of­fered in one place.

The Chris O’Brien Life­house is a pri­vate in­sti­tu­tion on the cam­pus of the pub­lic Royal Prince Al­fred Hos­pi­tal in Syd­ney. It was de­signed by the Aus­tralian ar­chi­tec­tural firm Rice Daub­ney, which was ac­quired last Oc­to­ber by Omaha, Neb.-based HDR.

“A lot of Chris’ vi­sion was about pa­tient dig­nity,” said Ron­ald Hicks, di­rec­tor of health and re­search for HDR Rice Daub­ney. “It’s a very spe­cial build­ing for me.”

Hicks told of how pa­tients have dif­fer­ent re­ac­tions when they hear their di­ag­no­sis of can­cer. Some want to con­tinue talk­ing or take a walk, while oth­ers just want to be alone. For the lat­ter group of pa­tients, Hicks said all re­strooms in the common ar­eas are sin­gleper­son oc­cu­pancy as a way of of­fer­ing a needed pri­vate space in a busy hos­pi­tal.

Ev­ery­thing in the fa­cil­ity re­volves around a nine-story atrium that fills the fa­cil­ity with nat­u­ral light and serves as an ori­en­ta­tion de­vice, eas­ing nav­i­ga­tion be­tween am­bu­la­tory ser­vices on the bot­tom floors, support and acute­care ser­vices in the mid­dle and in­pa­tient fa­cil­i­ties on top. “It truly does stand out,” De­sign Awards judge Ni­cholas Te­jeda said. “Just about ev­ery el­e­ment is dif­fer­ent from any­thing you’ll find in any other can­cer cen­ter—even the name it­self.”

Awards judge James Bi­cak agreed, not­ing that the project re­flected a fine “ur­ban re­sponse” to its hos­pi­tal cam­pus lo­ca­tion and was full of “small things done to great ef­fect.”

“What I saw was a de­gree of skill in the ex­e­cu­tion that seemed to re­ally un­der­stand the pa­tient ex­pe­ri­ence for what that fa­cil­ity was de­signed for,” Bi­cak said.

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