Built with natural materials and a no-frills design, the new St. Charles Bend Cancer Center in central Oregon reflects the earthy flavor of this pioneer town, where adventure and outdoor sports such as rock climbing, mountain biking, and skiing are a way of life.

Designed by Portland, Oregon–based ZGF Architects, the 16,000-square-foot two-story building is the latest addition to the St. Charles Medical Center, a series of wings off a large original structure, designed by SOM, that dates back to 1974.

St. Charles is the only comprehensive cancer center in the region, and patients travel up to 300 miles to receive treatment in Bend, where they might stay for up to six weeks. The new wing brings the medical oncology and radiation oncology treatment teams and services under the same roof for the first time. (Previously, medical oncology was located at a satellite campus a mile down the road, a logistical nightmare for patients who had to shuttle back and forth for their chemotherapy and radiation treatments.)

Oriented toward the southwest, the steel-frame orthogonal structure is perfectly positioned to capitalize on breathtaking views of Pilot Butte to the south and the snow-capped Cascades to the west. To blend in with the surrounding landscape, the architects clad the building with a sustainable and durable skin made of wood-like hybrid panels comprised of rice husks and mineral oil, and lightweight cement fiberboard in subtle shades of gray.

The warm natural materials continue inside, where light pours into a glazed double-height lobby with wood-paneled walls adorned by works of local artists, including a painted-tile triptych depicting Pilot Butte and the Cascades by Kathy Deggendorfer spanning the back wall. “We tried to continue that indoor-to-outdoor connectivity, with pieces that are uplifting and reflect the local scenery,” says ZGF interior designer Paul Evans.

The architects organized the first-floor examination area in layers to maximize patient comfort. An inner core, housing an open-plan staff work area, is surrounded by patient exam rooms lined by corridors with floor-to-ceiling windows on the perimeter. The actual examination rooms are enclosed by frosted-glass sliding doors with a “rice paper–like quality” that provide both privacy and indirect daylight. If patients or their family members need to take a breather, they can stroll outside around the healing garden and walk across a reflecting pool on “floating” pavers or sit on a bench and watch nesting ducks. There's also a lawn for yoga, Tai Chi, and other restorative activities. (Those services also are offered indoors in new integrative-therapy rooms, where patients can have massages, acupuncture, or Reiki.)

On the second floor, the infusion clinic—a spacious open-plan room with high ceilings and arresting views of the mountains—feels more like a spa than a hospital. Patients can sit for their infusions in groups of three or four, in a private room, or bays screened by resin sliding doors that incorporate dried grasses. “It's so open—it's not clinical—and that's what makes it comfortable,” says ZGF partner Karl Sonnenberg. If they're feeling up to it, patients can sit on a deck that overlooks the healing garden and get their treatment outdoors. “There's always a connection to nature,” says ZGF partner Gene Sandoval.

During the design process, the architects built, at a nearby dude ranch owned by the project's general contractor, full-scale mock-ups of the lobby and infusion center. Doctors, nurses, and patients reviewed and critiqued the mock-ups, with the architects making changes on the fly. “When we were talking to patients, one of the things that was really important was having options—opportunities to have conversations and interactions with their families and more of a group dynamic—and alternatives for privacy if they were feeling more withdrawn or sick,” says Evans.

The result is both functional and striking. “We didn't want to make a big statement—we wanted to complement the other buildings and be sensitive to the campus,” says Sandoval. For the patients, it provides a sense of well-being.


Formal name of building:
St. Charles Bend Cancer Center

Bend, Oregon

Completion Date:
August 2014

Gross square footage:
16,000 SF addition, 8,000 SF renovation

Total project cost:

Total construction cost:
$10 million

St. Charles Health System

St. Charles Health System

ZGF Architects LLP
1223 SW Washington Street, Suite 200
Portland, Oregon 97205

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Karl Sonnenberg, AIA, ACHA, Partner-in-Charge
Gene Sandoval, Associate, Design Partner
Malcolm Brown, AIA AIA, Project Manager
Douglas Morris, AIA, Project Architect
Paul Evans, IIDA, NCIDQ, Interior Design and Medical Planner
David Grant, ASLA, LEED AP, Landscape Architect
Trevor Lewis, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Designer
Mark Elliott, AIA, Architect
Kelvin Ono, AIA, Technical Design Architect
Barbara Anderson, RN, MN, Operational Planner
Aaron Schalon, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Technical Design Architect

Architect of record:
ZGF Architects LLP

Interior designer:
ZGF Architects LLP

Structural: Froelich Consulting Engineers

Civil: Hickman, Williams & Associates

Mechanical: PAE Consulting Engineers

Electrical: Sparling

Landscape: ZGF Architects LLP

Lighting: Sparling

Acoustical: SSA Acoustics

Other: Lean Design: Lean Healthcare West with ZGF Architects LLP

General contractor:
Howard S. Wright


16,000 square feet (addition), 8,000 square feet (renovation)

Construction cost:

$10 million

Completion date:

August 2014



Structural system
Steel frame

Exterior cladding
Metal Panels: Northclad

Curtain Wall: Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope, Guardian, Kawneer

Rainscreen: Okoskin, Resysta

Moisture barrier: Henry

Elastomeric: Carlisle EPDM

Metal frame: Kawneer

Glass: Guardian

Other: Exterior Sun Shades: Construction Specialties

Entrances: Kawneer

Metal doors: Steelcraft

Wood doors: Marshfield Door Systems

Sliding doors: Kawneer, Hafele

Special doors: Folding Glass Partitions: Modernfold

Locksets: Schlage

Closers: LCN, Rixon

Exit devices: Von Duprin

Pulls: Trimco

Security devices: Schlage

Interior finishes
Acoustical ceilings: USG

Wood Ceilings: USG

Suspension grid: USG

Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: McCarthy Manufacturing Inc.

Paints and stains: PPG

Paneling: USG TrueWood

Plastic laminate: Wilsonart

Solid surfacing: Corian, Avonite

Special surfacing: Resin Panels: 3 Form

Floor and wall tile: Floor: Pental; Wall: DalTile

Resilient flooring: Nora, Teknofloor, Mannington

Carpet: Lees

Office furniture: Herman Miller

Reception furniture: Lobby: Arcadia (chairs), Cumberland (tables)

Chairs: Herman Miller, SitOnIt Seating

Tables: Cumberland, Herman Miller, West Coast Industries

Upholstery: Architex, Momentum, ArcCom, Mayer, Maharam

Other furniture: Champion (recliner/treatment chair)

Interior ambient lighting: Lithonia, Gammalux, Waldman, Lumenpulse

Downlights: Philips

Task lighting: Eureka

Exterior: Bega, Hydrel, RAB

Dimming System or other lighting controls: Lutron, Greengate

Elevators: ThyssenKrupp

Sloan (water closet); Kohler (lavatory); Elkay (sink and water cooler); Delta (sink and Lavatory trim)