Lineberger Cancer Center

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The plan for the challenging space in front of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center addressed the problem of creating calming, private spaces in a very public setting. The existing plaza in front of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Mary Ellen Jones Building was a relatively barren concrete plaza that served as a passageway between the parking deck across the street and destinations further into the medical campus. The space was rarely used as a place to sit or stop for any reason.

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A donation by a grateful patient was the impetus to develop this garden retreat in the middle of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus. Intended for patients, patient families, and staff as a place of respite and retreat from the rigors of cancer care, the garden includes heavily screened seating areas, water features, and both sunny and shaded spaces. The master plan was expanded to address the plaza as a whole in front of both the Lineberger Center and the Mary Ellen Jones Building.

We worked with physicians and staff to explore and understand the needs of people who would be using this space. Access to fresh air and green spaces were at the top of all lists. The need for privacy was essential. The plaza had to be both a front door and a retreat. Water was proposed to mask the noise of surrounding traffic and provide its unique, soothing qualities. Spaces and circulation patterns were carefully structured to provide both shared and private spaces without compromising safety. Extensive plantings were proposed to enhance spatial objectives, provide shade, and offer four seasons of aesthetic interest.