SOM’s Winship Cancer Institute at Emory Midtown in Atlanta establishes a holistic approach to patient care

In Service of Health

SOM’s Winship Cancer Institute at Emory Midtown in Atlanta establishes a holistic approach to patient care

The tower aims to have an approachable scale within the surrounding Peachtree Street area. (David Kresses © May Architecture)
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Architect: SOM
Atlanta, Georgia
Completion Date: May 2023

The Winship Cancer Institute at Emory Midtown, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), opened its doors to patients on the Emory University Hospital campus in May 2023. The project joins a veritable building boom in the Midtown neighborhood of Atlanta, which has seen a spate of significant projects by the likes of John Portman & Associates (now Portman Architects) and Duda|Paine Architects.

For SOM and the client, the primary consideration for the 17-story project was to establish a holistic approach to patient care, which informed both the space planning and the exterior. It houses a wide range of care facilities, including oncology facilities, infusion treatment, inpatient beds, and outpatient clinics. A total of 160 collaborators guided SOM’s design approach to the project’s wide-ranging functions. The overall facade geometry, organized in two-story increments, is intended to provide the tower with an approachable scale in relation to the surrounding Peachtree Street area.

The Winship Cancer Institute’s holistic approach to care informed its space planning and facade. (Dave Burk © SOM)

“The largest facades are east and west facing, which was necessary for programmatic reasons, but if not designed well would have challenging solar exposures,” SOM health practice leader Anthony Treu told AN. “Upon concluding our studies, we found that a serrated facade geometry would work to both reduce solar gain while also minimizing glare in the patient rooms. On the north and south tower volume, we implemented a fly-by curtain wall system to complement the expression of the two-story care communities, each centered on a specific type of cancer, and further help to minimize glare.”

(Dave Burk © SOM)

The largely 6.25-foot-wide glazing modules, manufactured by AGC Interpane, with the curtain wall panels fabricated and installed by Permasteelisa, rest on a continuous concrete curb and are secured by an attachment under the slab above. At both the podium and the tower, the serrated unitized curtain wall panels, located on the east and west facades, are supported by embeds fastened to a depression along the perimeter of the concrete slab.

The double- height lobby is finished with wood panels and fins. (David Kresses © May Architecture)

The success of any project is, of course, not limited to its construction. Considerations have to be made for the long-term maintenance of its infrastructure, especially for a curtain wall of this scale. The designers initially considered using a davit system, which lifts cleaning crews on a crane extending from the roof, but they concluded it would be safer and easier to integrate a maintenance unit into the structure. They worked with Integrity Scaffold Service Group to design a custom building-maintenance unit, comprising a pantograph cradle—a gondola system with a counterweight extension—to access the facade beneath its protruding horizontal sunshades. “Some of the most intricate design challenges came from coordinating the maintenance of the facade, specifically the horizontal sunshades facing the north and south of the building,” said Treu. “We are able to maintain facade access throughout the entire tower with one efficient system situated on the roof.”

The building’s facade is organized in two-story increments of unitized curtain wall panels. (Dave Burk © SOM)

Through this methodical approach, the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory Midtown is well positioned to remain at the vanguard of patient care for years to come.

Matthew Marani, studying city and regional planning at Pratt Institute, writes about architecture and urban design.


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